ACCES:Call for phd applications

ACCES:Call for phd applications

ACCESS: Call for PhD Applications





The “African Centre for Career Enhancement & Skills Support (ACCESS)”, a consortium of six African Universities and the University of Leipzig in Germany invites applications for PhD grants. The programme which is financed by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), will analyse the employability of university graduates within the African context. The programme aims to research how graduates in Africa search and find work and build up their careers, and to develop and test innovative concepts for employability promotion at Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) in Africa. Employers in Africa say that they are looking for graduates who can think for themselves, take initiatives, integrate into fast-paced work environments, learn new ways of working and develop creative solutions to real problems. But what does this mean in practice? How can students best be supported in developing these job-relevant capabilities that rely more on methodology and key skills than on academic content? How can job-relevant learning approaches be integrated into all disciplines and study programs (curricula) at African and European Universities? What can be learnt from the experiences of existing graduates and from the existing efforts at employability promotion at universities in African and Europe? How can university employability promotion be developed in collaboration with partners outside universities in the private or public sector? What do we know about the functionalities and experiences with digital (coaching) platforms?

As of May 1, 2020 six PhD grants (ca. €1,200 per month) will be available. ACCESS is an interdisciplinary programme, therefore applicants from a wide range of disciplines, including History, Politics, Economics, Business Studies, Education, Anthropology, Human Geography, Information Systems, Engineering and cognate disciplines, may be considered. One candidate will be accepted from each of the following countries: Benin, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Tunisia.

The successful doctoral candidates will be supported for a maximum of three years, within which they will be expected to produce their PhD thesis in the subject area. They will become member of the Research Academy at the University of Leipzig. Each PhD candidate will be coached and supervised by at least two academic supervisors: one from his/her home institution in Africa and one from Leipzig University




1.       Applicants should have an excellent Master (or equivalent) degree that qualifies for studies in doctoral programmes at Leipzig University;

2.       Previous studies in areas such as History, Politics, Economics, Business Studies, Education, Anthropology, Human Geography, Information Systems, Engineering, etc.; 3.           A PhD topic which is related to the aims of the ACCESS programme;

        4.     Be a citizen of Benin, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, or Tunisia.

Potential Research Topics include:

      Identification of existing evaluation tools within the HEIs. Tools that aim to improve and/or adjust teaching skills in general and knowledge about labour market requirements in particular (e.g. questionnaire / feedback on courses and seminars). Assessing the scope of these tools to increase the access into labour markets.

      Identification and analysis of already existing interfaces between HEIs and potential employers (e.g. career centres, counselling desks for unemployed graduates, fairs, internships). Possibly considering a historical perspective comprising thestate as well as the private sector.

      What skills are required within the informal sector? How would workers in the informal sector vis-à-vis public workers or the self-employed describe the required skills for their profession? How can work in the informal sector be transformed/upgraded to be accepted by public institutions?

      Which mechanisms of social security already exist in the formal sector, how could these mechanisms be applied to the informal sector and which ones have been already internalized by university graduates as entitlement to be acquired for a secured professional life?

      How do gender, labour and education relate to each other? Although females increasingly graduate, they do not necessarily enter labour markets: How do paid work requirements correspond to gendered roles in family and society?

      What recruitment strategies do employers apply in the public and private sector that are structuring the access to labour markets? What knowledge do graduates have about these strategies?

      How do graduates obtain information about labour markets? How relevant are social networks, family, patronage relations and internet information in order to find job opportunities?

Applications should include:

1.       A certified copy of the Master (or equivalent) degree, including completed and official certificates and transcripts of previous university studies (academic records which are not in German or in English must be accompanied by English translations);

2.       A research proposal in which an innovative project which falls into the research areas of the programme is outlined. This proposal of not more than 3,500 words should include: a brief summary of the proposed project (max. 15 lines); of the international state of the art of research on the topic; and a work plan indicating how the project will be completed within a maximum of three years;

3.       A curriculum vitae;

4.       Two references from academic referees;

5.       When the language of instruction at the candidate's university is not English then evidence of sufficient English language skills is required (TOEFL 78% or B2 of the European Reference Framework).

Successful applicants will be expected to take up residence in Leipzig, to participate in a course programme, as well as to undertake field research in their home country. Travel and family grants are paid according to DAAD guidelines.

The University of Leipzig is an equal opportunity employer. Women are encouraged to apply. Severely challenged persons with the same occupational aptitude will be privileged.

Please send your application as one or separate PDF documents by E-Mail (indicating in the subject header which of the six African universities you wish to be considered by) to:

All applications must be received by 15 March 2020

Added the Sept. 13, 2019, 9:02 a.m.