Regulations for Special PhD Fellowship
Detailed information, full regulations and forms are available online.
Any additional information can be obtained from the secretariat of the Research Foundation - Flanders, Egmontstraat 5, 1000 BRUSSELS, tel 02 512 91 10.
These regulations apply to Special PhD Fellowships (*) of the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO).
(*) French nomenclature: Bourse spéciale de doctorat du Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique –Flandre (FWO).
German nomenclature: Besonderes Doktorstipendium des Fonds für Wissenschaftliche Forschung – Flandern (FWO).
Dutch nomenclature: Bijzondere Doctoraatsbeurs van het Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek – Vlaanderen (FWO).
Applications and seniority
§1. A special temporary fellowship, without any obligation to repay, can be granted to PhD candidates, in order to help them complete their research, with a view to obtaining a PhD by thesis.
§2. The candidates must be employed in a permanent position. They must be able to obtain study leave (for scientific activities or for activities of general interest) or unpaid leave (not a sabbatical) for one year, with the guarantee of being able to return to their job at the end of this period of leave.
§3. The candidate must possess a master degree (*) from one of the countries of the European Union or the European Economic Area (**) or Switzerland. The candidate must submit proof of permission from the university trustees to do a PhD thesis (only required if the diploma has not been awarded or will not be awarded by a Flemish university).
* excluded are master-after-master diplomas as described in the Higher Education Register
** The EU countries plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.
Candidates must submit their applications in English and be affiliated to a university in the Flemish Community or one of the officially registered higher education institutions (Article II 1 of the Flemish Codex on Higher Education of 11 October 2013) that can award a PhD degree (Article II 73 of the Flemish Codex on Higher Education of 11 October 2013), possibly in collaboration with a Flemish or Federal scientific institution where they conduct their research. If the research is conducted in collaboration with a university college, it shall be carried out under the supervision and responsibility of a Flemish university. Candidates with an academic degree (second cycle) from a university outside the Flemish Community are assumed to have sufficient knowledge of Dutch to enable their integration into the research team.
Clinicians cannot apply for the Special PhD fellowship; they can apply for the Clinical PhD fellowship.
Persons cannot apply for a Special PhD fellowship if they have previously, even if only partially, been the beneficiary of a predoctoral fellowship.
Due to the specific aim of the Special PhD fellowship, those working in scientific research (*) at the time of application are not eligible to apply.
* For the university colleges this excludes group 2 assistant staff as well as group 3 staff, but not group 1 staff (junior practical lector, senior practical lector, junior lector and senior lector). Junior practical lectors or practical assistants with an appointment of maximum 50% are eligible to apply.
When submitting their application, candidates must present a certificate from their supervisor in which the latter:
a) agrees to assume the scientific responsibility for the relevant research and to act as supervisor of the candidate at the faculty where he/she wants to present his/her PhD thesis;
b) affirms that the research has advanced sufficiently to be completed subject to one year's full time work;
c) confirms that the research is of such a nature that it cannot be completed without the candidate being released from his/her duties.
The supervisor shall be either:
1° an Independent Academic Staff member with a remunerated appointment of more than 10% at a Flemish university;
2° an Independent Academic Staff member with a remunerated appointment of 10% at a Flemish university and whose main task is research;
3° an Independent Academic Staff member with a remunerated appointment of 5% at a Flemish university and with an appointment as (assistant) clinical head or an equal function in a university hospital;
4° an academic staff member with a remunerated appointment at the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Leuven and the Faculty for Protestant Theology in Brussels;
5° a research director of the FWO;
6° a designated beneficiary of an ERC Starting Grant, an ERC Consolidator Grant, an ERC Advanced Grant or an Odysseus II grant.
All co-supervisors have to be researchers of at least postdoctoral level. Co-supervisors have to be affiliated with a remunerated appointmen to a Flemish university, or a Flemish research institution, or a Flemish university hospital, or the Transnational University Limburg, or the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Leuven, or the Faculty for Protestant Theology in Brussels, or a federal scientific institution where the co-supervisor belongs to the Dutch-speaking community.
The applications will be submitted for evaluation to the Expertpanels who will judge the qualifications of the candidates. The Expertpanels will provide advice to the Board. The Board of Trustees will make the final decision.
The Special PhD fellowship is a grant (*) subject to the National Social Security system by virtue of Art. 15, paragraph 2 of the Royal Decree of 28 November 1969, exempt from income tax pursuant to Art. 90, paragraph 2 of the Income Tax Code 1992 (*), which starts on 1 September and ends on 31 August of the following year.
* Com.I.B. 41/22, first paragraph and Circular Letter from Directorate II/6 Ci. RH 241/430.824 by Inspector General G.A. DE GROOTE.
Special PhD fellows will receive the applicable fellowship terms and conditions from the FWO.
Special PhD fellows shall not be members of the Academic Assistant Staff or Independent Academic Staff (ZAP) of the universities or assimilated institutions.
Art. 10 bis.
Subject to the general law of contract termination, the grant agreement, will, as a rule, terminate upon expiry of a period of 1 year.
The grant agreement will be immediately terminated by operation of law, without any compensation, if the holder of the special PhD fellowship is no longer affiliated to a university in the Flemish Community or to the Evangelic Protestant Faculty in Leuven or the Faculty for Protestant Theology in Brussels, possibly in collaboration with a Flemish or Federal institution, or if the supervisor no longer holds at least one of the following positions:
1° Independent Academic Staff member with a remunerated appointment of more than 10% at a Flemish university;
2° Independent Academic Staff member with a remunerated appointment of 10% at a Flemish university and whose main task is research;
3° Independent Academic Staff member with a remunerated appointment of 5% at a Flemish university and with an appointment as (assistant) clinical head or an equal function in a university hospital;
4° academic staff member with a remunerated appointment at the Evangelical Protestant Faculty in Leuven and the Faculty for Protestant Theology in Brussels;
5° research director of FWO;
6° a designated beneficiary of an ERC Starting Grant, an ERC Consolidator Grant, an Advanced Grant or an Odysseus II grant, with a Flemish university as host institution.
However, the holder of a special PhD fellowship will, where appropriate, have the right to designate, in consultation with the host institution, an alternative supervisor who meets at least one the required criteria, and thus prevent dissolution of the agreement.
Also if the supervisor of the holder of a special PhD fellowship is found to have committed a serious breach of integrity which, in the opinion of the host institution, is serious enough to disqualify him/her as supervisor, can the holder of the special PhD fellowship designate an alternative supervisor in consultation with the host institution.
Art. 10 ter.
Furthermore, the grant agreement will be terminated by operation of law, without compensation or notice to the researcher, if the latter commits a breach of integrity which immediately and definitively renders any professional collaboration between the FWO and the researcher impossible.
Art. 10 quater.
As soon as the FWO becomes aware of breaches of the scientific integrity of one of its researchers, the FWO will hear the researcher.
The researcher has the right to legal counsel.
After having heard the researcher, the FWO can make the following decisions:
- close the case without taking further action;
- have the facts put down on record and include this record in the personal file of the grant holder with the FWO;
- issue a formal warning and include this warning in the personal file of the grant holder with the FWO;
- dissolve the agreement by operation of law as provided for in article 10ter of the regulations.
Rights and obligations of holders of a special PhD fellowship
Special PhD fellows are administratively and legally dependent on the FWO Board of Trustees, represented by its Chair and its Secretary General. In disciplinary matters, they are subject to the academic authority of the university.
In addition, they undertake to comply with the FWO regulations and those of the academic authorities of the university.
The research project proposed by the fellowship holders must be carried out under the direction of a supervisor, affiliated to a Flemish university and in officially registered higher education institutions (Article II 1 of the Flemish Codex on Higher Education of 11 October 2013) that can award a PhD degree (Article II 73 of the Flemish Codex on Higher Education of 11 October 2013), possibly in collaboration with a co-supervisor affiliated to a Flemish or Federal scientific institution.
Beneficiaries of a Special PhD fellowship may not change the subject of their research without the consent of their supervisor and the FWO. They cannot change host institutions. Host institutions may mutually agree on collaboration and place of employment.
Holders of a Special PhD fellowship undertake to complete a PhD by thesis.
Fellowship holders are not allowed to follow courses or to engage in teaching activities. Masters or Doctors of Law, holding an FWO grant, must not have been registered with the Bar.
The fellowship may not be accumulated with any other remuneration or compensation. The fellows may not engage in any other function or accept any other appointment whatsoever. However, at the request of the fellow, the Foundation may allow full or partial accumulation with grants for study stays abroad. Holders of a travel grant from the FWO, the Flemish Community, the Federal Government or as part of Cultural Agreements, may accumulate such grant with their fellowship. They are requested to notify the FWO thereof.
In all publications and reprints, grantees must mention their Special PhD Fellowship of the Research Foundation – Flanders.
Holders of a Special PhD fellowship who wish to spend a study stay abroad must ask for permission from the FWO. If the stay is to take place in one of the countries of the European Union or in one of the countries with which Belgium has entered into a social security agreement, the FWO will provide the necessary health insurance documents.
Holders of a Special PhD fellowship have to notify the FWO as soon as possible of any temporary interruption in their research, regardless of the cause.
Holders of a PhD fellowship have to register as compulsorily insured persons with the health insurance fund of their choice. In case of illness, they have to send a medical certificate stating the period of incapacity to the FWO within 48 hours; a copy has to be sent, via the supervisor, to the relevant department of the university where the fellowship holder carries out his/her research.
In case of an occupational accident, the FWO Personnel Department has to be notified by telephone within 24 hours in order to avoid penal consequences. The official statement together with a medical certificate has to be sent to the FWO as soon as possible. The occupational medical service of the institution and the supervisor will have to be notified as well.
The fellowship holder is required to notify the FWO forthwith in writing of any change in his/her situation (marital status, birth, change of address, etc.).
The fellowship may be suspended in cases of prolonged sickness leave, pregnancy and breastfeeding leave, parental leave, and palliative leave. In these cases the fellowship will be extended by the period during which no payments were received. Extensions of less than two weeks will not be taken into consideration. Extensions will only be effective if the study leave is extended as well.
Holders of a fellowship should notify the FWO as soon as possible of such interruptions in their activities.
The fellowship cannot be suspended or delayed for any other reason.
Calculation of the grant
The amount of the grant corresponds with the last net amount of the principal activity. For persons holding a permanent appointment in education, only the salary of one full time employment is taken into account. Furthermore, in line with the general principle of predoctoral fellowships, the candidate is required to give up any secondary activity and the associated remuneration.
Travel cost allowance: holders of a Special PhD fellowship of the FWO are entitled to a commuter travel allowance to the same extent as established for academic staff of the universities in the Flemish Community (the allowance does not cover car expenses).
The grant is linked to the health index as applicable to the academic staff of the universities in the Flemish Community.
The grant is deposited monthly, at the end of the month, in a Belgian financial account.
Occupational accidents and liability
Special PhD fellows are covered by legally required insurance against risks inherent in regular seminar and/or laboratory work, and against accidents on the way to and from work. This insurance covers also temporary foreign assignments for which prior permission has been granted by the FWO. For their travels, fellows may use all the usual means of transportation allowed for carrying passengers over water, in the air or on roads, provided they are not part of the crew.
The third-party liability of fellows is covered by a collective insurance policy taken out by the FWO.
The FWO must be notified of all births. The Foundation will provide the required forms to obtain both the child allowance and the birth premium, which can be requested from the 6th month of the pregnancy. To preserve their right to child allowance, fellows with dependent children are advised to notify the FWO of any travel abroad. During their stay abroad they must also maintain a domicile in Belgium.
The holiday periods are the same as those indicated in the regulations of the host institution and are established in consultation with the supervisor. Fellows shall inform the FWO secretariat of the dates of their annual holidays. The holiday pay, calculated on the basis of the grant of the month of June, will be paid into the holder's account during the month of May.
A fellow who has worked in the private sector must, before 31 December, provide the FWO with a holiday slip, issued by the employer(s), showing that he/she was employed during the year when the fellowship was awarded.
The years spent at the FWO are recognised as seniority when determining the salary of holders who are appointed at Community or subsidised institutions for secondary and higher education with full curriculum, as well as at Flemish and Federal scientific institutions and ministries.
Special PhD fellows may at any time resign their fellowship provided they have notified the head of the host institution, their supervisor and the FWO thereof.