My role as expert in the Examination Board

  • As a member of the Examination Board, you are responsible for the appraisal of the dissertation of the doctoral student. The Examination Board shall consist of five to eight members who are qualified to vote, including the chair, three to five experts (including you) who form the ‘reading committee’, and one or two study programme representatives who are called ‘rapporteurs’. The supervisors of the dissertation are welcome to attend the sessions of the Examination Board, but they will not be qualified to vote. (One of) the study programme representative(s) will be assigned as secretary. As soon as the Examination Board has been composed by the Faculty Council, the chair of the Examination Board and/or the Faculty Student Administration (FSA) will act as your contact person.
  • With the exception of the chair, each voting member of the Examination Board will draw up a written appraisal of the dissertation prior to the doctoral exam. You will appraise the dissertation in full and spend extra attention to the chapters that are in close keeping with your expertise. The report of an expert usually counts approximately 1,500 words and is written in the language in which the doctoral examination will take place, i.e. in English or in Dutch. If the dissertation has another language as its subject, it is possible to depart from this rule. It is important that all parties involved in the examination understand the language(s) used. The written appraisal states a number of positive and negative elements about the dissertation (e.g. about the bibliography, the methodology, the analysis, the discussion, the conclusion, the use of source material), as well as a number of possible points of special interest for the doctoral student. At least seven working days prior to the first session, you need to deliver the report to the Faculty Student Administration (FSA) via fsa.lw@ugent.be. The FSA will deliver all the reports to the doctoral student.
  • The doctoral exam consists of two separate sessions that are each deliberated on and assessed: (1) the (closed) first deliberation of the Examination Board on the doctoral dissertation, and (2) the public defence of said dissertation.
  • As a member of the Examination Board, you need to attend the two sessions of the Examination Board. If you are unable to attend a meeting, you immediately need to notify the chair of the Examination Board. If needed, you may attend the meeting through video conferencing.
  • During the first session, the Examination Board members assess the doctoral student’s skills and competencies by means of a conversation. The Examination Board members and the doctoral student have a substantive discussion. Subsequently, the members deliberate on the basis of (1) the written reports and (2) the hearing of the doctoral student. The members of the Examination Board decide by simple majority of the votes, abstentions not taken into consideration. If a second voting round again results in a tie, the decision will not be in the student’s favour, in accordance with the Education and Examination Code at Ghent University. The secretary is to substantiate and include the outcome of this deliberation round in a deliberation report, together with the attendance register. The deliberation will result in one of the appraisals below:
    • The default option:
      “Admission to the second part (public defence)”; possibly in combination with the request to make some small corrections.
    • The option if a number of bigger problems arise:
      “Admission to the second part, following corrections to the dissertation.”
    • The option if serious problems that are not easily solved arise:
      “No admission to the second part of the examination.”
    • Additional criteria for an article-based doctorate
  • The second session (public defence) takes place within 60 calendar days after the first session (the precise date is fixed in joint consultation after the Examination Board has taken a deliberation decision during the first part of the doctoral examination). During the second session, which takes one to two hours, the doctoral student puts forward an oral and public defence of his/her doctoral dissertation before the Examination Board. The session starts with a short presentation by the doctoral student, which lasts no more than 20 minutes. Next, each member of the Examination Board is given the opportunity to ask one or more questions. The session takes place in Dutch or English, unless otherwise established.
  • Whether the (authorised) Examination Board members should wear a gown during the public defence or not, is usually a decision taken by the doctoral student. If necessary, the faculty can put at the student’s disposal a gown in the colours of the faculty.
  • The Examination Board deliberates in camera on the examination as a whole, immediately after the public defence. The Examination Board members decide by simple majority of the votes, abstentions not taken into consideration, whether or not the academic degree of doctor is to be awarded. If a second voting round again results in a tie, the decision will not be in the student’s favour. The secretary is to substantiate and include the decision in a deliberation report, together with the attendance register.
  • The examination decision is publicly announced by the chair immediately after the deliberation, following the second session. Ghent University does not grant grades of merit within the context of a doctorate, nor does it ‘congratulate’ the student. Doctoral students pass or do not pass. In case of a positive decision, one of the supervisors may hold a laudatio. The doctoral student will receive his/her degree and a beret.