In the Netherlands, too, Chinese PhD candidates with a scholarship from the China Scholarship Council (CSC) have to report to their embassy: they are supposed to fill in a form about their progress every semester and email it to the embassy. This emerges from a report published by Delta, the independent journalistic platform of Delft University of Technology. The editorial team in Delft has a copy of one of these forms.


The embassy asks PhD candidates with scholarships for a brief summary of the progress of their research. The form has to be signed by their professor or supervisor.

It is not known whether this actually happens in practice. Delta spoke to several Chinese PhD candidates with scholarships, who wished to remain anonymous because they fear reprisals by the Chinese government. They don’t take the form particularly seriously. “There are around two thousand Chinese PhD candidates in the Netherlands at this moment. Do you really think the embassy has time to read through all our forms?”, one of them told Delta.


In Germany, it came to light last month that some Chinese PhD candidates are required to keep their embassy or consulate informed about their research and contacts. Moreover, family members in China have to act as personal guarantors for these doctoral students. They have to pay the costs if the PhD candidate terminates the programme prematurely, if the candidate’s academic performance is inadequate or if the candidate does not return to China on time after the PhD programme. Sums of up to 75,000 euros are involved.

Because of the alarming signals Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf announced last week that an investigation is to be carried out into ‘the total number of PhD candidates with a CSC scholarship in the Netherlands and in which disciplines they are active’. That investigation also aims to clarify ‘the type of contract conditions’ under which the PhD candidates come to work in the Netherlands.

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