In the research of researchers’ careers, we not only use a unique data collection based on administrative data such as the HRRF, but we also focus on surveys that more thoroughly examine the perceptions of the researchers themselves.

This has led to some important insights in recent years. It was observed, for example, that the research population has grown strongly in the past 2 decades, both at junior and senior level. Among the new entrants, the proportion of female researchers, and especially the proportion of foreign researchers, has risen during that period. At postdoctoral level, the increase in the number of new postdoctoral researchers since 2008 can even be attributed solely to the increase in the number of foreign postdoctoral researchers.

The chances of success in obtaining a PhD have risen sharply over time; in the most recent cohort of PhD students for which success rates can be calculated, 70% obtained the PhD. There are major differences in function of the type of funding of the PhD; the greatest chance of success is observed among competitively acquired mandates from the FWO and the VLAIO (85%). We also notice differences between the scientific clusters, with lower chances of success in the social and human sciences (61% and 64% respectively).

The largest share of the PhD holders leaves the Flemish university after obtaining their PhD: 80% of the PhD holders are no longer academically active at a Flemish university 5 years after obtaining their PhD (cohort PhD holders 2009-2012). Only a small proportion eventually promotes to professor* (10% is professor 8 years after obtaining the PhD - cohort PhD holders 2006-2008). The foreigners holding a Flemish PhD hardly promote to professor. Among Belgian researchers, we see the largest promotion rates in the social sciences (29% of men and 20% of women); the lowest promotion rates are seen in the natural sciences (5% of men and 4% of women).

* assistant professor ≥ 50%, associate professor, full professor, senior full professor