Photographer:Fotograaf: Herman Pijpers
MAASTRICHT. It is an impressive list; not as many as two years ago, says beadle Len Cuppens, but still, 61 researchers will defend their theses in December. “Sometimes, that is literally running from one hall to another, because we only have one official rod. One minute there is the ‘hora est’ in one hall, the next minute you enter another hall with the same rod. It's about time we bought a second one. After all, we do have several chains.”
On the busiest days, we have five PhD ceremonies scheduled. That is when some PhD graduates move to the first floor, where a little lecture hall will be transformed into a small auditorium at the beginning of December. “We don't force anyone to go there,” says Cuppens. “Many foreign graduates choose it themselves, because they only bring along a handful of visitors. They don't want to graduate in a half-empty large auditorium.”
No matter how busy it is, says Cuppens, “for a PhD graduate, it is always a special day, so we do our best to maintain that unique feeling. That is our ambition.” Traditionally, most PhD ceremonies are on the roll for before the summer and just before the end of the year.
The 2015 calendar year was an absolute record. In that year, 357 PhD graduates defended their theses. Most of them were female: 203 out of those 357. Since 2006, women have invariably been in the majority – with the exception of 2008 when there was just one man more.
The boom of 2015 was the result of major research programmes that had started years before with extra money from natural gas benefits and in which many PhD candidates took part. The exact numbers for 2017 are not known yet.