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Dutch Theoretical Physics reviewed as excellent

The Dutch Research School for Theoretical Physics (DRSTP) has received excellent ratings from an independent international committee. The DRSTP is a school for PhD training which has grown out of a collaboration between the theoretical physics departments at six Dutch universities—including Leiden—and the high-energy physics institute Nikhef. Last year, the research quality of the Leiden Institute of Physics was already evaluated as “World leading / excellent”.

The review focused on quality, relevance to society and viability. For this first assessment, the committee looked into the quality of the PhD educational programme in an international context. Furthermore, the employability of the DRSTP graduates was reviewed as proof of the relevance of the School’s educational activities to society. The committee looked into the DRSTP’s viability by paying attention to the aims and objectives of the programme, its financial support, the governance and leadership and quality assurance mechanisms.


PhD students reported back that they value the broad scope of the training programme, that they felt encouraged and challenged to move beyond their field. The committee was highly impressed by the quality of the offered educational programme, and found plenty of evidence regarding the standing of the DRSTP within the international community. In the committee’s view, the DRSTP creates conformity within the PhD programmes in theoretical physics in the Netherlands and also allow students to look beyond their own area of expertise. The reviewers were very impressed with the amount of dedication to communication and community building created through the established institutional links. The curriculum of the DRSTP is, in the eyes of the committee members, of excellent quality with a balanced approach, addressing relevant themes, good structure of courses, and interactive set up.

Society and Viability

The committee noted that the DRSTP delivers highly skilled young scientist who easily find employment inside and out of academia. PhD students were also appreciative about the ways in which the DRSTP created a platform of interaction between the academic and professional field. In the eyes of the committee, theoretical physics in the Netherlands as a field should consider itself fortunate with the current state of affairs. The committee concluded that the future for the DRSTP looks bright.

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