To help local and regional authorities to address challenges ahead, project ‘1000 doctorants pour les territoires’ sends PhD students in local administrations
‘1000 doctorants pour les territoires’ is a national programme to increase the number of young researchers doing their PhDs in local governments or NGOs.
• To help local and regional authorities address challenges ahead, including circular economy;
• To help PhDs in humanities finance their research;
• To give doctors new opportunities outside academia.
How does it work?
PhD students are employed by the municipality or a local public institution for 3 years (i.e. the entire time of their doctoral studies). Their time is split between the university and the local administration, which receives a state grant of 14 000 € per year that covers half of the doctoral student's salary.
1. Informing students and local institutions
2. Connecting local governments with PhD Candidates. A national website has been created to help this matchmaking process. https://1000doctorants.hesam.eu
3. Support in setting up the research project.
The programme has been supporting several thesis in circular economy for the benefit of local authorities (e. g. a doctoral student in architecture is working for a rural inter-municipality on the energy renovation of buildings; another one is doing her PhD in the Occitanie Region on the use and dissemination of design principles in local authorities.
The minimum wage for a PhD student is 23 484 € (about 33 200 € for the hiring local authority). The state subsidy is 14 000 € per year.
Created and run by HESAM, the match making programme is funded by the French Ministry of Research (120k€ per year for project management).
Evidence of success
Local and regional authorities have been eligible for this subsidy scheme for the employment of a doctoral student for years. Nevertheless, when the project was set up in 2016, only about 60 PhD students per year were employed in a local authority thanks to this scheme. This figure has more than doubled by 2020.
Local authorities such as Cluny in Burgundy Franche Comté were forerunners and have used the scheme to support developments in the local wood industry or renovation
Find local funding partners. Despite the subsidy, some local authorities, especially the smallest ones, find it difficult to cover the remaining costs.
Anticipate the time needed to set up the project (6 to 18 months from the information phase to the actual recruitment)
Potential for learning or transfer
Within the framework of the COLOR CIRCLE project, the ‘1000 doctorants pour les territoires’ initiative has been transferred in Granada, Spain as the Puentes (Bridges) project. It will allow the transfer of knowledge from the academy to the territory, thanks to extracurricular internships of university students in their last year of their degree or master's degree for a 6-month period. The internship will be done in the framework of actions of Local Urban Agenda of municipalities that are in their implementation phase and will imply a previous specific training in local development and circular economy. It is expected that the knowledge acquired by students thanks to this training will be incorporated to the projects they are going to design for the municipality they have been destined.
Other similar initiatives exist in Europe (Municipal PhD in the Skanne region, Sweden) and in the world (the knowledge transfer programme in Cape Town South Africa or the Future City Node in Austra