Application procedure


>> Application form and instructions

Here, you can download the application form. Please send the form by e-mail and in English to the LIMES Programme Office

♦ Download the application form  

♦ Download the ethics self-assessment document 

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>> Career prospects

The LIMES programme is geared towards enhancing the PhD candidates’ career prospects in the academic, public, and private sector, through training in a wide range of skills, tailor-made secondments and intersectoral exposure. Both the results of the individual research projects and the programme as a whole contribute to strengthening the European Research Area.

As employability is one of the main objectives of LIMES, the training programme prepares candidates for a career in academia, as well as other sectors. Transferable skills trainings, e.g. presentation or entrepreneurship training, are part of the programme. The partner organisations offer the candidates work experience and training in new environments, thereby broadening their professional horizon, and helping them in future (non-academic) careers. The PhD candidates also receive training in how to obtain funding, both for pursuing an academic career and for other types of jobs. During the summer and winter schools, LIMES PhD candidates also participate in workshops on creativity and entrepreneurship, ethics, data management, cultural diversity, team work, professional behaviour, networking and personal branding, and research communication, also with the general public. To give one example, the workshop on creativity and entrepreneurship stimulates the PhD candidates to think beyond what they know already/are familiar with. For example: What further uses are there for their research data? And: How to find other stakeholders that could benefit from their research? Maastricht University's Language Centre offers a broad range of language training to the PhD candidates. The Centre can help them communicate effectively in an international environment.

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>> Contact information

During the application and recruitment phase the candidate can contact the Programme Office for questions and assistance on technical issues around the application process. They are invited to contact supervisors (as communicated in the vacancy text) to discuss the content of the research proposal.

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>> FAQs

1. What is an MSCA-COFUND?

This stands for Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), COFUND of regional, national and international programmes. Read more on the EU's research and innovation actions.

2. Why does a mobility criterion apply to LIMES PhD positions?

LIMES is an MSCA-COFUND, which is a funding scheme under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. Mobility is a key requirement in this funding scheme, where researchers receive funding on the condition that they move from one country to another. This is because, at system level, the MSCA-COFUNDs aim to increase international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral mobility of researchers in Europe.

3. Am I eligible if I am a national of the same country where the recruiting university is based, or if I have resided in this country?

Nationality is not a criterion, only the country of residence is.

You may not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands (country of employment) for more than 12 months in the three years preceding the end of the call date.

Time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention, compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account.

4. Do I need to document my country of residence?

We do not require certified documentation at the application stage.

However, if it is not evident from the application that the mobility criterion is met, please include an explanation as part of your application, including your country of residence up to the end of the call date. We will only consider candidates who can demonstrate that they fulfill the criteria.

Before contract signature, the recruited candidates will have to document that the mobility criteria is met by providing documented evidence that they have not resided more than 12 months in the Netherlands in the three years preceding the end of the call date.

5. Terminology PhD candidate - ESR

The vacancy text uses the term "PhD candidate"; the European Commission uses the term "ESR", which stands for Early Stage Researcher. Both words define the same. 

6. How are the first four years of an Early Stage Researcher’s research career calculated?

Early-Stage Researchers (ESR) must at the end of the call date be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and not yet have been awarded a doctoral degree. 

Full-Time Equivalent Research Experience is measured from the date when a researcher obtained the degree entitling him or her to embark on a doctorate, either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the researcher is recruited, even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged. Part-time research experience will be counted pro-rata.

As an example, if you obtained a degree entitling you to embark on a doctorate five years ago and spent the equivalent of two years attending taught classes and three years gaining research experience, you are still eligible as ESR. Your research experience is considered to be three years, as the time enrolled in formal taught classes is not considered as research experience. Similarly, compulsory national service is not considered as research experience.

Before contract signature, the recruited candidates will have to document that the research career stage criteria are met.

7. GPA conversion 

Education in the Netherlands
Candidates who follow, or have concluded, an academic education in the Netherlands will usually have been graded on a scale from 1 to 10. In case the candidate has concluded, or follows, an academic education in the Netherlands, the minimal average grades relate to the Dutch grading system, i.e. the overall weighted average for the bachelor’s programme must be at least a 7,5, for the concluded first year of the master’s programme (or the concluded master’s programme) the weighted average grade must at least be 8,0. The average grades are calculated to one decimal maximally. A weighted average includes the weight that has been allocated to courses in the programme, usually expressed in ECTS.

LIMES provides a conversion table for Dutch grades to the 4-point scale US GPA. On the basis of this table, the Dutch grade 7,5 equals a GPA of 3.37, and the Dutch grade 8,0 equals a GPA of 3.95.

Education outside of the Netherlands
Candidates who follow, or have concluded, (parts of) their academic education outside of the Netherlands, will most likely have been graded according to a different system. In these cases, candidates are asked to calculate a United States Grade Point Average (GPA) on a 4 pointscale. A GPA is also a weighted averaged, taking into account the weight that has been allocated to courses followed. There are different ways to calculate and represent a GPA. LIMES follows the calculation and representation that is common in the United States, using the four point scale. GPA’s on a different scale than the US 4 point scale will not be taken into consideration.

On the internet, several calculators are available to convert grades to a GPA on a 4-point scale, many of which are adaptable to the grading system used in a given country. Calculators converting US letter grades to a GPA on a 4-point scale are available on the internet as well.

In case you have calculated your GPA on a 4-point scale, you are requested to provide either the link to the online calculator, or provide the formula used. LIMES reserves the right to check the provided results at random.

8. How should I calculate full-time equivalent research experience?

If you received your MA diploma (which entitled you to be enrolled in a PhD programme in the country of recruitment) more than 4 years ago, and you have considerable research experience in this period, you might want to break the years into smaller units (i.e. months) to calculate your total full-time research experience.

If your main activity has been research, you could explicitly note what you have done that could be subtracted from the period, such as taught classes, compulsory national service, parental leave, etc.

Please make sure to also count the full period up until the end of the call date to make sure that you fulfil the criteria.

9. What is the duration of the fellowship?

Each fellowship will be granted for 4 years.

10. If I am selected for the LIMES fellowship, when can I possibly start my research project at Maastricht University?

Your research project, if selected by the LIMES selection committee, will start within one month after employment contract signature, depending on the COVID-19 crisis.

11. How many applications do you expect?

Based on our past experience, we received about 15-20 applications per project. You will find further information on our website (see below "feed-back application round") with regards to statistics of the first and second selection rounds.

12. Can I submit multiple applications to various LIMES projects?

Yes, you can apply for more than one LIMES project.

13. Which language do I have to use in my application file and, if successful, during my PhD?

MSCA-COFUND is a European programme dedicated to international researchers. That's why the general communication is in English. Your application file must be submitted in English, as it will be evaluated by international experts. For the communication with the LIMES Programme Office, privileged language will be English.

Maastricht University is located in the Netherlands, but it is an English-speaking university, due to its international dimension. Ask your supervisor which language would be preferred for the project you are applying for.

14. When do I receive feed-back on my application?

If your application is found eligible, you will receive feed-back within two weeks after the submission deadline (after the first assessment round).

If you are rejected, you will receive an assessment summary report, based on the evaluation criteria and summarising the findings of the supervisors and the reasons behind their decision.

The shortlisted applicants (max. four/project) are informed about the dates of the interview.

If your application is found ineligible, you will receive feed-back from the Programme Office by e-mail within ten working days after receipt of the application.

15. Will there be an interview of the candidates?

Yes, in the second round, shortlisted candidates (max. four/project) will be invited for an interview. See also the selection process document of the website.

16. Is there a reserve list?

Yes, the selection committee will draft a ranked reserve list.

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>> Feed-back application round

In the first application round (deadline 26 August 2019), we received 83 applications. 64 applications were found eligible and have been submitted for the first assessment round. 18 applications were found ineligible because they did not meet the EC mobility requirement (15) or the EC research experience requirement (3). Furthermore, one application file was incomplete and hence not further assessed. 

In the second application round (deadline 30 September 2019), 7 vacancies were re-opened. We received 42 applications; 37 applications were found eligible and have been submitted for the first assessment round. 3 applications were found ineligible because they did not meet the EC mobility requirement (1) or the EC research experience requirement (2). Furthermore, two application files were incomplete and hence not further assessed.

For the application round for project 7 we received 43 applications. 27 applications were found eligible and have been submitted for the first assessment round. 16 applications were found ineligible because they did not meet (one of) the application requirements. Furthermore, four application files were incomplete and hence not further assessed. 

Candidates for the following projects have been selected (overview of candidates and projects):

1. Youth Mobilities of Unaccompanied Minors in Border Regions

2. Soft EU Borders in Africa. How Migration Campaigns and Social Media affect Young Senegalese Men’s Migration Aspirations and Sense of Social Justice 

3. Hardening and Softening of Borders in European Integration Enlargement

4. Liberal Arts Education in Europe: Making or Breaking Borders

5. Study and Work Experiences across the Border: their Impact on Cross-border Careers

6. Foreign Students and Graduates in European Border Regions

7. The Role of EU Agencies in the Management and Guarding of Borders in the EU

9. The Atelier Glasschilderkunst F. Nicolas en Zonen in Roermond (NL) (1855-1968) and the Revival of Stained Glass Production in Western Europe in the 19th and 20th Century 

10. All Together or All Alone? How Demographic and Digital Trends affect Socialisation and Isolation at Work 

11. Linguistic and Cultural Borders: Transparent or Not

12. Educational Borders: Multilingualism or Not

13. The Impact of Borders on the Effectiveness of Active Ownership by European Asset Owners 

The recruitment procedure for Project 8, Coal at the cross roads: the rise and fall of an industry in the 19th and 20th century, is ongoing. 

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