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International IST Doctoral Program

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ISTScholar (International IST Doctoral Program)

Reporting period: 2015-10-01 to 2017-09-30

The ISTScholar programme offers PhD training in biology, neuroscience, computers science, mathematics, physics and related interdisciplinary areas. The overarching goal is to produce intellectually broad, curious, open minded scientists who are able to approach problems from multiple angles.
ISTScholar, and its PhD programme, is designed according to the model of North American Graduate Schools. It offers a customized path for each PhD student, taking into account the student’s previous academic background and leveraging an individual’s potential. The curriculum has a strong focus on interdisciplinary training, promoting not only depth and breadth of knowledge in a particular research area, but encouraging students to think across the boundaries of disciplines and to cooperate with different kinds of scientists. The duration of the program is four to five years, typically four years for graduates with a Master’s degree and five years for graduates with a Bachelor’s degree. The language of the program is English.
In the first period we launched the first two calls of the programme. This involved developing the necessary organizational structures, such as the selection committee, compiling the call information for the applicants and publishing those on the newly developed programme website, as well as designing and distributing various dissemination materials and starting communication measures using different channels.
The selection process has been implemented and worked out as planned and the two cohorts started in fall 2016 and 2017, respectively. The main deviation from the plan is the number of scholars, as we are currently below the target for this period. We’ve been analyzing the reasons and already started to implement various measures to compensate for this in the next call.
ISTScholar pursues three main goals, which are not limited to the actual participants of the program. These are:
• Educate a new generation of scientists
• Enhance the employability of its alumni
• Develop a responsible leadership
ISTScholar takes concrete steps to improve the quality of the doctoral education at the institute and is enhancing the overall working conditions of all scientists at IST Austria. We are using the framework and additional funds to further improve and/or newly develop our activities, such as the Career Development Program and our outreach formats. Intensified dissemination activities will help to bridge the gap between scientists and the public.
On a scientific level, all aspects of the ISTScholar programme are reviewed and improved on an annual basis with the support of the Advisory Board. The Advisory Board looks at the advertisement of the program, the application requirements and selection process, the adequacy of the scholarship offers and program administration, and the career development opportunities for the scholars.