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You will find here a collection of contributions of different authors sharing their ideas, views or lessons learnt during their professional development. Please feel encouraged to comment on the contributions and share your experiences on the various topics. If you would like to add your own contribution, please get in contact with us.

Life cycles of a small scale Doctoral School. The case of NOVA Doctoral School

The beginning
NOVA’s Doctoral School (DS) launched in 2013. Without interfering with the structured PhD programs of each of the nine schools of the university, NOVA DS embraced a specific mission – to reinforce personal and professional development of PhD students and supervisors through transferable skills training.

Building a team
We started with a very simplified and flexible organizational model and with a very small team - two Coordinators, a Counselling Committee of teachers and another of students, coming
from the different schools, and a small non-academic staff team.
Three girls constitute our non-academic staff. They were recruited based on specific criteria: Competence and Flexibility (skilled people but flexible enough to be polyvalent); Creativity
(able to find solutions for unexpected situations); Boldness and teamwork capacity (able to accept challenges and to work as a supportive team). Furthermore specific and differentiated professional profiles were considered and we built our non-academic team with a specialist in Project and Quality Management, a specialist in Education and Training and a specialist in
Communication.

Growing as a project
First stage: From the beginning, “our” three girls accepted to contribute with their specific know-how but also to develop administrative work. At start all of them worked very close to
each other, planning activities, organizing courses, interacting with students, solving problems, collecting and treating evaluation data. Two of them were also tutors in two of the courses
offered by the school.

Present stage: After the first two years of establishing and implementing the first steps of the project, the school is in another development stage. Specific capacities of our three members
of the non-academic staff are felt as crucial. Nowadays we can think about developing specific domains and to build a more differentiated response to our students. Above all we would like to give an opportunity for the contribution of specific expertise in order to be able to offer a dynamic educational atmosphere, a sound organisational and teaching quality management system and an efficient communication process within the school and outside the school.
Furthermore the personal and professional development of our staff has become one of our priorities.

Lessons learned
As any innovation process, NOVA Doctoral School has experienced different life cycles. It was crucial to start the project with a small team. Non-academic staff was part of the team and needed to feel involved as partners. Although there are different professional profiles within the non-academic team, the initial effort to operate in an apparently undifferentiated manner contributed to build the desired team spirit.
After the first phase, training and establishing good practices are crucial to consolidate the project. This is one of the reasons why we joined the PRIDE Project.

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We believe in knowledge-sharing as a competitive advantage and try to achieve this with interactive webinars organised by professionals, for professionals. Our second webinar aimed at professionals who want to set up, improve or reflect on their training offers in transferable skills.

Watch the webinar with Verity Eston and Christian Dumpidak an Transferable Skills Training recorded in November 2018!

About the Association

The PRIDE-network Association aims at representing the community of Professionals in Doctoral Education within Europe and beyond.

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