Maximilian Karl Scharf

Vice Chair

Henriette Engelke

Simon Kirchmann


Bahareh Azad

PhD Council

PhD Council

In accordance with section 9, paragraph 4 of the Lower Saxony Higher Education Act (NHG, January 2016), the elected PhD Council represents the PhD candidates and students of the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg and is charged with discussing matters concerning doctoral students and issuing recommendations to bodies of the university.


Foundation of the Bundesverband Promovierende e.V. (Federal Association of Doctoral Students)

On 26 September, the Bundesverband Promovierende e.V. (Federal Association of PhD Students) was founded from an association of PhD students' representatives from all over Germany. Among other things, it is to be the voice of doctoral researchers on central issues such as the Wissenschafts-Zeitvertrags-Gesetz (WissZeitVG). The new website is:

DAAD STIBET Final Degree Scholarship

From 25.05.2023, until 16.06.2023, international students and doctoral candidates at the University of Oldenburg can once again apply for a DAAD STIBET study completion scholarship. (Applications are always possible from May-June and November-January).

If you are one of the international students and doctoral candidates who will successfully complete their studies/doctorate within the next 12 months, you can apply. STIBET funds can cover up to 500 euros per month for 3-4 months of support. The funds are paid out in the winter semester. Scholarship holders must still be enrolled during the payment period.

Further information and the application form can be found here:


Oscar Romero Scholarship

For the winter semester, there is also the Oscar Romero Scholarship of up to 1000,- EUR for international students and doctoral candidates of the University of Oldenburg who are in financial need.


Award for outstanding doctoral supervisor

For the third time, the Oldenburg University Society (UGO) is offering a prize of 2,000 euros for outstanding doctoral supervision. Nominations can be submitted until 31.07.2023. If you would like to nominate your supervisor, you can find more information on the UGO website.

WissZeitVG position letter to BMBF

We have signed the following open letter:

Statement by the representatives of doctoral researchers on the planned amendment to the Act on Temporary Academic Contracts (Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz)

Dear BMBF, Minister Stark-Watzinger, On 17.03.23, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) published its key points of a draft bill to amend the Wissenschaftszeit-vertragsgesetz (WissZeitVG - German Act on Fixed-Term Contracts for Researchers).1 A number of status groups and interest groups have already expressed their views on this draft reform, but it does not include a clear position for doctoral researchers, even though they are the largest group of those affected by the WissZeitVG and a mainstay of the German science system.

Doctoral researchers not only conduct research on their own projects or in teams, they also teach, publish and administer to a considerable extent, and do so for lower pay and in 98 percent of cases in temporary positions, if they have any employment at all. We, as doctoral student representatives from all over Germany, are addressing the need for our own voice in the debate in this position paper. Our network comprises 43 local and supra-regional representatives at universities and non-university research institutions, representing around 100,000, i.e. 50 percent of all German doctoral researchers. We welcome your initiative to "improve working conditions in science" and to "adapt contract periods for doctorates to the expected duration of the doctorate".

Both goals are particularly worthy of support and we hope for their consistent implementation in concrete measures. However, we still see a need for adjustment in this implementation. The proposed minimum contract duration of three years is an improvement over the status quo, but it does not prevent chain contracts. Three years are not enough to complete a doctorate in any subject culture. According to the Federal Report on Young Academics 2021, in which you as the BMBF were involved, the general duration of a doctorate is 5.7 years on average (excluding human medicine). We demand that the WissZeitVG follow the statistics and make six years of employment the binding rule and not the exception. A subject-specific shortening of this regulation should only be possible in consensus with a doctoral student representation. In principle, we welcome the linking of the qualification goal and the duration of the time limit, but we miss consistent implementation here as well. The target regulations proposed in the draft reform do not provide any planning security for all those involved, and the patchwork of university- and state-dependent procedures that currently exists would thus continue to exist. We therefore call for the proposed durations of fixed-term contracts to be mandatory.

Unfortunately, your key issues paper does not yet ensure effective protection of doctoral researchers against exploitation. This is because international doctoral candidates in particular face existential dangers due to chain contracts: Their visas are often linked to their employment contracts. Combined with a fixed-term contract that does not cover the actual duration of the doctorate, those affected end up in precarious conditions of dependency. For all doctoral researchers, gaps in funding inhibit or interrupt independent academic work or even completely prevent continuation. The German Council of Science and Humanities rightly demands that these circumstances should not be at the expense of doctoral researchers.4 We therefore see it as your duty as the BMBF to counteract this deplorable state of affairs through good legislation.

Doctoral researchers take on indispensable tasks in teaching and academic self-administration that go beyond their work on their own research, in positions as research assistants or within the framework of teaching assignments. We see these additional tasks as enrichment, as long as they do not unduly interfere with the work on the doctorate, which unfortunately is not infrequently the case. Tasks that are independent of qualifications extend the doctoral period, but so far have not led to an extension of the minimum time limit. We therefore demand that the reformed WissZeitVG clearly define the concept of qualification and create measures to limit the additional workload. There must be a guaranteed minimum of 75 percent of paid hours for work on one's own research only. The vast majority of doctoral researchers are involuntarily employed in part-time positions.5 The positions neither reflect the workload of doctoral researchers, who usually work significantly more than the paid hours, nor does part-time employment extend the term of the appointment. The deadlines listed in the law would therefore have to refer to a full-time position and be extended proportionately for part-time positions. Otherwise, the payment of doctorates will remain unequal in terms of monthly salary and total paid research duration without justification. In order to keep Germany attractive and competitive as a science location in the long term and to prevent the not unjustly feared "brain drain", scientific careers must also become an attractive choice for young people.

PhD students are intrinsically highly motivated,6 but the unnecessary hurdles created by the system mainly sift out those who cannot afford or do not want uncertainty and dependence, and not those who would be best suited for research and teaching. We therefore welcome the announced revision of the draft reform and demand that it does justice to your claim for fundamental improvements in working conditions.

Our demands for a sustainable WissZeitVGare summarised below:

  • Six years of regular employment duration instead of systematic chain contracts
  • Mandatory regulations for minimum fixed-term contracts, exceptions only with consensus with the doctoral student representation
  • Percentage-based corresponding extension of the fixed-term period for part-time positions
  • Clear definition of the concept of qualification - Protection against additional workload independent of qualification by guaranteeing 75% of paid working time for own research

Yours sincerely



2 98% of scientific employees under 35 years of age at universities are employed on a fixed-term basis, see pp. 29. Cf. also nacaps-

3 "Overall, a doctorate thus takes an average of 4.7 years. If one excludes human medicine/health sciences and data outside the study area classification/other subjects, the average total duration is 5.7 years." p. 137.

4 p. 8.

5 6

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