‘I’m like a snail carrying my entire house with me’

Doctoral fellows’ experiences of a mobile life

in Volume 11 (2018): Issue 2 (Jun 2018): Mobility in doctoral education – and beyond. Guest editors: Corina Balaban and Susan Wright
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EU policies promote mobility as a part of contemporary doctoral education. EU-funded doctoral candidates are expected to move country, establish international research networks; travel for workshops, conferences and research stays abroad; and collaborate across disciplines as well as work in other sectors during their doctoral training. As far as EU policies are concerned, competence in all these ‘mobilities’ is essential for future knowledge workers in a competitive, global economy. But how do doctoral fellows themselves experience mobility? A survey of 3,410 EU-funded doctoral fellows shed light on their experiences of geographical, sectoral, interdisciplinary and social mobility. It showed that many PhD candidates are excited by the opportunities they see in their doctoral programmes, but they often experience tensions between their professional and personal desires.