Doctoral fellow

Last application date
Mar 08, 2024 00:00
RE23 - Department of Criminology, Criminal Law and Social Law
Limited duration
Master's degree in Law
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff


Ghent University is a world of its own. Employing more than 15.000 people, it is actively involved in education and research, management and administration, as well as technical and social service provision on a daily basis. It is one of the largest, most exciting employers in the area and offers great career opportunities.

With its 11 faculties and more than 85 departments offering state-of-the-art study programmes grounded in research in a wide range of academic fields, Ghent University is a logical choice for its staff and students.

Job description

Scientific researcher for a four-year research project, leading to a doctoral dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Tom Balthazar and Prof. Sylvie Tack

Content of the research project

The research will focus on the research project described below (supported by the ‘BOF’ of Ghent University)

“Care choices in times of scarcity: legal aspects”

A crisis or emergency occurs regularly in healthcare. Such a crisis has usually a short term and existing emergency plans are in principle sufficient to handle the crisis relatively fast. However, healthcare also faces long-term or large-scale crises, such as the recent Covid pandemic. Measures had to be taken to increase the capacity of the healthcare system and to focus more selectively on the treatment of patients affected by Covid-19 . These measures presuppose a reorientation of the healthcare system, and in particular of healthcare institutions such as hospitals and residential care centers. To this end, drastic measures had to be taken with regard to both healthcare professionals and patients, such as postponing non-urgent or non-essential care.

Today, healthcare is faced with another much more difficult problem: staff shortages. Due to the increasing aging population, there has been an increased need for qualified healthcare providers for years, but due to the so-called "double aging" the outflow within healthcare is greater than the inflow and the vacancies are not fully occupied. The COVID pandemic has made this problem even worse: the enormous workload has resulted in many staff members being absent, which has increased the pressure on existing staff members, resulting in even greater shortage due to staff members leaving the profession. As a result, healthcare institutions must, once again, take measures that limit the supply of care, e.g. closing departments or reorienting internal cooperation. More and more healthcare providers providing care outside healthcare institutions have also introduced a patient stop.

Such measures risk conflicting with the right to healthcare of patients and the professional autonomy of healthcare providers. However, this can only be imposed and enforced if there exists a clear legal basis.

The study aims to make a thorough and comparative legal analysis of various legal issues regarding healthcare choices in times of scarcity. First, the question arises regarding the legal basis for taking restrictive measures in times of scarcity: which governments, agencies and/or persons are authorized to introduce such restrictive measures and/or to issue guidelines on decision-making in the event of scarcity?

A second question concerns the decision-making itself: on which (legal and/or ethical) criteria decision-making in times of scarcity should be based? Who determines these criteria and at what level should guidelines and measures be developed? Are certain procedures for testing and/or evaluating this decision-making necessary?

Thirdly, the relationship with the existing rights and freedoms of the actors involved should be examined. How are the rights of patients, healthcare institutions and individual healthcare providers determined in times of scarcity? To what extent can rights such as 'right to state of the art healthcare', 'therapeutic freedom' and 'freedom of association' be invoked and applied by the persons involved?

Fourthly, the research also addresses the ‘medicolegal’ consequences of scarcity: what is the impact on the legal responsibility of healthcare providers? To what extent does scarcity determines the standard of care imposed on healthcare providers and can this be qualified as force majeure?

This research will be carried out by comparing the law of six European countries, supplemented with a European and international law analysis. This analysis is further substantiated by an empirical study focused on Belgian healthcare via a thorough survey (by means of semi-structured interviews) among various actors involved, e.g. those responsible for the management of healthcare institutions (e.g. chief physicians and general managers ) and various officials from governmental bodies involved in health policy.

Based on the comparative legal study and the survey, recommendations will be formulated for a possible update or improvement of the existing legal framework.

Job profile

  • You have a Master's degree in Law. You had very good study results.
  • You have knowledge of Belgian and European law.
  • You have a demonstrable interest in health law. You are also interested in other related branches and disciplines of law that are closely related to health law.
  • You have good writing and presentation skills in Dutch and English.
  • You are able to independently monitor a research project and make adjustments after feedback.
  • You are communicative and a team player, but at the same time show a high degree of independence, creativity and a sense of initiative.


  • We offer a full-time position as a doctoral fellow, consisting of an initial period of 12 months, which - after a positive evaluation, will be extended to a total maximum of 48 months.
  • Your contract will start on 05/01/2024 ( 1st of May) at the earliest.
  • The fellowship amount is 100% of the net salary of an AAP member in equal family circumstances. The individual fellowship amount is determined by the Department of Personnel and Organization based on family status and seniority. A grant that meets the conditions and criteria of the regulations for doctoral fellowships is considered free of personal income tax. Click here for more information about our salary scales
  • All Ghent University staff members enjoy a number of benefits, such as a wide range of training and education opportunities, 36 days of holiday leave (on an annual basis for a full-time job) supplemented by annual fixed bridge days, bicycle allowance and eco vouchers. Click here for a complete overview of all the staff benefits (in Dutch).

How to apply

Send your CV, copy of your study results, copy of your diploma (if already in your possession), your master’s thesis, and a motivation letter to

We do not accept late applications.

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Prof. name (, +32 (0)477 260 110)