Conference objectives  
The initiative to organize European conference on the harmonization of PhD programs has been prompted by:
  1. The variety of organizational models of European PhD programs in biomedicine and health sciences. Some countries do not have PhD programs in medicine and health sciences at all. There are considerable differences among different universities in the same country, and even in the same country we can find two degrees: PhD and DSc. Most important information about PhD programs in medicine and public health in most European countries are not internationally available. Let us come together and exchange our experiences. Since the time available is limited, we should write information on our PhD programs in advance. Thus we are all to become active participants in the Conference, and the first booklet on PhD programs, with our contribution, will be waiting for us in Zagreb.
  2. On the other hand, in the attempt to comply with the "Bologna Process", many universities are now organizing new PhD programs. According to the Bologna Process, the PhD program is the last step in higher education, but in its best tradition, it is a research as well, and should therefore be completed with a PhD Thesis. What is the place of advanced learning in such programs and should there be some minimal criteria for scientific accomplishments in one's PhD Thesis? Is the PhD title the beginning or a "crown" of one's academic and scientific career, or is it only the last step in education wherein research is not obligatory. If internationally recognized research should be the basis, how is possible to organize good PhD programs in countries with a "small scientific community" (and a small scientific output). Following formally Bologna requirements, is there a danger to create a very diversified output? Is there a proper solution to these problems? Is it possible to reach a consensus on what exactly a PhD program should be, or perhaps even to offer certain recommendations for basic organizational and scientific requirements?
  3. The additional important questions are: the position of the existing Master programs in the light of the "Bologna Process", introduction of ECTS in postgraduate education, and an open possibility to connect all forms of postgraduate and lifelong learning by means of ECTS. The problem of Master programs can be best observed in the field of public health where such programs are entered by scholars of different professional background (MDs which equals MSc according to the Bologna Process, MSc or even BSc degrees in social sciences, economics etc.). Is then a Master program in public health a postgraduate or additional graduate (MSc) program?

The solution to some of the above mentioned problems could be achieved by creating a regional i.e. international network(s) which would enable an increased fluctuation of students and academic staff, the exchange of new achievements and a wider range of subjects. Probably no country in Europe can meet the highest standards in all fields of current medical research on its own. Along with an improvement of quality, the aim of international co-operation is the broadening of contents, in order to be as close as possible to the dissertation topic of each individual attendant of the doctoral study. Therefore, this kind of network(s) represents an indispensable way of cooperation.

And finally, the major aim of the Conference is to gather in one place the representatives of European medical schools, schools of public health and research institutes participating in PhD programs in medicine and public health, who will give an insight into their experiences and the experiences of their countries, as well as try to propose the best way of mutual harmonisation. Even if the only outcome would be the first publication of PhD programs in Europe, it would still be an important guideline for many universities in creating or reshaping their PhD programs. If, additionally, we propose certain recommendations and start initiatives for mutual cooperation, it will still represent a significant achievement.

Conference topics
  1. Overview of PhD programs in biomedicine and health sciences in different universities and countries
  2. PhD programs in the Bologna process
  3. Master programs in medicine and public health: where to place them in the "Bologna process", interrelations among master programs, PhD programs and specialization programs
  4. Is there a need for regional and European harmonization of PhD programs, modalities of possible regional and/or European cooperative network(s)?
  5. Concluding discussion, recommendations etc.