KU Leuven PhD Scholarships 2022/2023 for Students from Developing Countries

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The KU Leuven is pleased to be offering 10 PhD scholarships to excellent students from the Global South. By training researchers from low income countries, we help build institutional capacity in their home countries and tackle development challenges together.

Application Deadline: 10th March, 2022 at 5 p.m.

Eligible Countries: Developing countries

To be taken at (country): Belgium

About KU Leuven PhD Scholarships:

KU Leuven invests in research on sustainable development by excellent students from low resource countries. The goal is to support research relevant to the development of countries in the Global South, to strengthen the local capacity building of the local institution and to ensure the local embeddedness of the researcher upon completing the PhD. KU Leuven promoters can apply for a 4 year PhD project for a candidate from a developing country who wishes to obtain a doctorate at KU Leuven (“developing country” refers to a country on the  OECD DAC-list from the categories “Least Developed Countries”, “Low Income Countries” of “Low Middle Income Countries”). The project must address a topic that is relevant for sustainable development. To strengthen the embeddedness of the research within the concerned country, a co-promoter affiliated with a university or research institute from the same or another developing country must be involved in the project.. Upon completion of the doctorate, the aim is for the candidate to return in order to strengthen the capacity of the collaborating institution.

Type: PhD

Eligibility: The KU Leuven applicant and (optional) co-promoter meet the conditions to be a promoter or co-promoter of a project under Internal Funds. The applicant will also be the promoter of the doctorate at KU Leuven.

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The foreseen doctorate must meet the KU Leuven requirements for the attainment of a doctoral degree (see regulation doctoral degrees and guidelines joint doctoral degree). The following additional conditions apply:
  • There is a co-promoter in the concerned developing country. This co-promoter should have the necessary scientific expertise to supervise the project and is an authority in the field and the institute. This co-promoter should play an active role in the project, remotely or as host during short stays;
  • The research should be conducted at KU Leuven. Short stays or missions to the concerned developing country and/or other foreign stays are allowed, but they must be described in the original application. In case of approval of the application, these stays must be reported to the Research Coordination Office and must be in line with the original application;
  • The dissertation should be defended within the period of 4 years. The KU Leuven promoter must confirm that this is feasible and that they will do whatever is necessary in order to make sure the doctorate can be finished within the foreseen time period.
  • The PhD candidate must in principle still complete the whole doctoral trajectory. It is possible that the PhD candidate has already started a predoc or a doctorate at KU Leuven, but no longer than 8 months (incl. the predoctoral period) on the deadline date of this call;
  • The PhD candidate has not applied for a Global Mind PhD Scholarship;

Selection Criteria: The following selection criteria will be used by the Research Council (or its Bureau):

  • Mainly the scientific quality of the doctoral project and the research competency of the candidate;
  • The scientific quality of all the (co-)promoters;
  • The quality of the planned supervision of the doctorate.
The following selection criteria will be used by the IRO Selection Committee:
  • The importance of the described developmental problem in relation to its local context on which the research will have impact;
  • The added value of the proposal for the solution or better understanding of the developmental problem that is the subject of the research;
  • The local embedding in the developing country: the efficiency and sustainability of the project.

Number of Awards: Each year a maximum of 10 ‘PhD scholarships for researchers from the South’ can be funded at KU Leuven.

Value of KU Leuven PhD Scholarships: an approval contains a doctoral scholarship at KU Leuven for 4 years, a predoctoral period of max. 12 months (if the doctoral committee advises to do so) and a one-off reimbursement of travel costs from the home country of the PhD student to Belgium at the start of the doctorate (max. €1000 and based on proof of expenditure). The PhD student is exempt from the tuition fee at KU Leuven. In case a predoctoral period is imposed and the predoc is not successful, the involved candidate can also claim reimbursement of travel costs for the return trip to the home country (max. €1000 and based on proof of expenditure).

Duration of Programme: The doctoral scholarships have a duration of maximum 4 years. The mandate starts on October 1st of the year of the approval (other starting dates are possible on request). In case the PhD student has obtained a doctoral scholarship at KU Leuven before, that period will be subtracted from the 4 year period.

How to Apply: The application must mainly contain the following elements (see digital application form for further specifications):

  • Authorization from the doctoral committee to enroll as a PhD researcher. (this authorization is academic and does not guarantee the funding of a PhD scholarship!)
  • An identification of the KU Leuven promoter and (optional) co-promoter with their CV and a description of the supervision of the PhD student;
  • An identification of the co-promoter at the university or research institute in the developing country with CV and a description of the supervision of the PhD student;
  • The project description and work plan of the doctoral project, demonstrating the academic strength of the proposal, as well as the relevance in a developmental context and the potential impact, and the local embedding and the potential to increase the local capacity. In the work plan, any planned foreign stays must explicitly be described (max. 5p);
  • The curriculum vitae of the candidate, including a motivation about the stay at the KU Leuven research group and its relevance for the home country (max. 3p);
  • A detailed description of the collaboration and the supervision of the doctorate (max. 1p);
  • A motivation letter from the KU Leuven promoter containing (a) a clarification of the scientific added value of the project, (b) the relevance for the development of the country concerned, (c) a description of the aimed for (or current) collaboration with the foreign co-promoter, and (d) a formal confirmation to fulfill the supervising and logistic task in order to enable the completion of the doctorate within the foreseen time period.

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Note: for applications for which extensive fieldwork is foreseen/necessary, we refer to the Global Minds PhD scholarships Global Minds PhD Scholarships (sandwich formula).


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