PhD Student

Last application date
Mar 31, 2021 00:00
EB22 - Department of Accounting, Corporate Finance and Taxation
Limited duration
Master degree in Computer Science, Business Engineering, Informatics, Engineering or equivalent
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description


  • Fundamental and applied research will be performed at Ghent University under the supervision of prof. Joke Baeck (Faculty of Law and Criminology), prof. Klaas Mulier (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration), and prof. Thomas Demeester (Faculty of Engineering and Architecture).
  • The proposed research fits within the FWO-funded research project “Evaluation of distressed enterprises using explainable machine learning: construction of an artificial intelligence algorithm to assist judges in Belgian Enterprise Courts”.
  • The activities of the PhD are embedded in a stimulating interdisciplinary environment, with the focus on contributions in explainable AI and corporate bankruptcy prediction, within the setting of law.
  • The PhD candidate will thus work on the intersection between Data Science, Corporate Finance and Bankruptcy Law. Depending on the candidate’s preference, emphasis can be placed either on the economic aspect (within the Corporate Finance research group), or on the computer science part (within the Internet and Data Science research group).


  • In close collaboration with the supervisors as well as a post-doctoral researcher with expertise in both computer science and law, the Ph.D. candidate will apply machine learning techniques and tools to mine and leverage economic enterprise data (such as balance sheets and profit & loss accounts) for predicting corporate distress and potential bankruptcy to assist judges.
  • Numerical data as well as free-text notes will be injected into the models, which will require a considerable level of transparency and explainability in order to be valuable in practice.
  • Model evaluations will be performed iteratively in collaboration with Enterprise Court judges in Flanders and/or on a wider geographic scale.
  • The candidate will also contribute to developing proof-of-concept tools and rolling out field tests at Belgian Enterprise Courts.
  • The candidate will present research results at major international conferences and publish in international peer reviewed journals, as part of meeting the requirements for the PhD.

Job profile


We are looking for a highly creative and motivated PhD student with the following qualifications and skills:

  • You have (or will obtain in the next months) a master degree in Computer Science, Business Engineering, Informatics, Engineering, or equivalent, with excellent qualifications at bachelor and master level.
  • You are strongly interested in computer science (and machine learning in particular) as well as in economics and corporate finance, and have strong skills in at least one of these areas. You are eager to advance the state-of-the-art in these areas.
  • Experience with machine learning algorithmic approaches or frameworks (such as PyTorch, Tensorflow, etc.) is considered a plus.
  • You have excellent analytical skills to interpret the obtained research results.
  • You are a team player and have strong communication skills. - You have good knowledge of Dutch, and your English is fluent, both speaking and writing.


  • We offer a full-time position as a Ph.D. scholarship recipient, consisting of an initial period of 12 months, which –upon positive evaluation– will be extended to a maximum of 3 or 4 years.
  • We offer a dynamic and international work environment with a competitive salary and ample training and self-development opportunities.
  • The PhD position is available starting September 2021.

How to apply


We are looking forward to hear from you! Please apply by e-mail to Prof. Joke Baeck at before 31 March 2021. Your application should include the following documents (merged in one pdf-file):

  • Motivation letter
  • CV
  • Diploma and transcript of records (bachelor and master)


For more information about this vacancy please contact Prof. Thomas Demeester at (if your main interest is in the computer science part of the project) or Prof. Klaas Mulier at (if your main interest is in the economic aspect of the project). Ghent University seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments.