Innovative Practice 2017 on Employment, Work and Vocational Education and Training

Being employed by a university for the duration of PhD study

In 2012 the University of Köln (Cologne) initiated a project called Promi to enable and promote post-graduate education for students with disabilities. Since then it has created 45 job positions at 21 partner universities in Germany where students can simultaneously obtain a PhD degree.

“I am amazed at the talent, the drive, and the depth of the Promi people. Working with them is a pleasure and highly rewarding.”

About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Being employed by a university for the duration of PhD study
Organisation:Universität zu Köln, Lehrstuhl für Arbeit und berufliche Rehabilitation – project “Promi”
of Implementation


    • Jobs created until 2014: 24 (one position is the project leader)
    • Jobs created in 2015: 19
    • Jobs created in 2016: 3


Approximately 7 per cent of all university students have some form of disability. Often neglected as a group, research shows that even with a university degree, barriers remain for people with disabilities in finding employment in the open labour market.


One way to break down the barriers of disability is to encourage college graduates to pursue a PhD degree. Under the guidance of the University of Köln, Promi (which stands for promotion included – inclusive doctoral studies) and in cooperation with the German Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, which funds the project, 45 graduates with disabilities have been placed in PhD programme and provided with employment at their university for the duration of their studies. The participants’ fields of studies include law, ethnology, education, art history, literature, psychology, chemistry, astrophysics, and information technology. Notably, some of the research projects conducted by the students are associated with issues of disability and inclusion. In terms of support, the students are connected via an exchange platform, which enables them to learn from each other’s experience; and there are yearly meetings at which they can meet in person. Moreover, there is a contact person at every university to facilitate integration and address day-to-day issues.


In 2015, the project cost was €668,250. In addition, scientific and social support costs approximately €124,000 per year. The project is partly funded by public grants, and the universities pay between 30 and 50 per cent of the personnel cost.

Ms. Jana BAUER
+49 221 470 2314


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