The TSP can be used to structure the PhD candidate’s learning process; it is used to discuss what should be learned and why. At the same time, the TSP is an action plan, pointing out how this should be learned. It is also a flexible plan that can be adapted to changing circumstances, insights or needs. The training plan will vary per candidate and is tailored to the discipline, the education background and the requirements of the research project as well as the personal interests and ambitions for the future. However, there is also common elements to the training plan, that reflect the competences to be achieved according to the learning targets of the Wageningen PhD programme (see doctoral conferral regulations). For each (sub)category of competences a number of credits should be obtained. This number of credits has been based on a comparison to other social sciences graduate schools in Europe.
Approval of the TSP
Before submitting the final signed version of the TSP, PhD candidates are recommended to send a draft version to the WASS Education Coordinator by email. Once approved by the Education Coordinator and supervisors, the final signed TSP should be sent, both by e-mail and in hard copy, to the secretariat of WASS.
An approved TSP is one of the necessary conditions to have access to the individual education budget of €3500 (the so-called ‘backpack’). In addition, PhD candidates with an approved TSP are eligible for reduced fees (generally 50%) on WASS and WGS courses. Often, the same reduction applies for courses organised by the other graduate schools of Wageningen University.
Completing the TSP within the framework of a graduate school is a necessary condition to receive an education certificate. This is also a requirement for the chair group to collect the full promotion fee provided by the University after the graduation of the PhD candidate. To obtain the certificate, PhD candidates need to submit their completed TSP together with the proofs for the learning activities to the secretariat of WASS.
In the first year of the PhD trajectory, WASS starts implementing a monitoring system that helps PhD candidates and supervisors to keep track of the steps taken in the process and to adapt planning if necessary. The system yearly incites PhD candidates and supervisors to get into conversation about results, progress and planning.
Monitoring in WASS involves an alert system. This means that supervisors and PhD candidates will receive an email when it is time to have a monitoring conversation. In case of formal delays (part time workers, pregnancy leave etc.) the WASS secretariat will adapt the time-line of the monitoring system to the new situation. In the first year, the monitoring conversation will precede the formal go/no go decision by the supervisors. After the first year, the monitoring form can be used for an annual conversation with all PhD candidates. For employed PhD candidates, the monitoring form can be used instead of an R&O form for PhD candidates. The (co-) promotor can upload the monitoring form in the digital R&O tool. If deemed necessary based on the content of the monitoring form, WASS will contact the PhD candidate and/or supervisor.
In addition to facilitating a yearly monitoring conversation between PhD candidates and supervisors, WASS has installed a confidential, cohort-based monitoring system. In this system, PhD candidates are asked at 9-months (or, depending of their start-date, at the latest 15 months) and in their last year (36+ months) to fill out a questionnaire (strictly confidential) and then attend a WASS monitoring meeting with their cohort and WASS’ confidential advisors. The questionnaires contain questions that are relevant to the stage the PhD candidates are in at that particular moment.