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    KTU opens PhD in mathematics, joint degree with two top-class universities

    The contemporary world is made of ever-growing, often interconnected data. Managing it needs expertise, based on fundamental and applied knowledge in mathematics. The experts agree that international collaboration is the key to educating professionals for high-value-added industries.

    With such an agenda in mind, Kaunas University of Technology in Lithuania, Charles University in Prague, Czechia and the University of Göttingen in Germany have established a joint PhD programme in mathematics.

    There is a clear shortage of highly qualified mathematicians across the EU, especially in applied mathematics. Thanks to international cooperation, the new PhD programme will effectively achieve the high level of quality demanded today by both businesses and academia.

    One of the universities that makes up this PhD programme in mathematics is the University of Göttingen, one of the oldest and most prestigious in Germany.

    “47 of the Nobel Prize winners in science are in one way or another connected to the city of Göttingen. Knowing the deep tradition of mathematical science at the University of Göttingen, we will now be able to offer a very high level of doctoral studies in mathematics in Kaunas. This PhD is important not only for KTU but also for the entire Lithuanian scientific community, as it promotes research in new areas of mathematics, educates highly qualified specialists and contributes to the country’s image in the world of science,” says Kęstutis Baltakys, KTU Vice-Rector for Research.

    International PhD degree – more attractive to employers

    Prof. Miloš Kopa, a mathematician and professor at Charles University in Prague, says that although Charles University is much larger than KTU, the same cosy academic spirit is characteristic of both.

    “I am incredibly pleased to have been able to contribute to the joint PhD programme in mathematics,” said Prof. Kopa, adding that there are numerous benefits of studying in an international PhD programme.

    Firstly, according to him, three universities together could offer a much wider range of courses, conferences, projects, and all kinds of cooperation than a single university. Secondly, for those students who are planning their future careers at a university or research institute, experiences at other universities are very valuable.

    “Students can learn how to do research differently and perhaps better. They can establish research collaborations that will help them improve their academic careers. Moreover, students who move into business and industry will find that they are more attractive to employers, especially large international companies,” says Prof. Kopa.

    The job market is thirsty for highly qualified mathematicians

    According to Prof. Bronė Narkevičienė, the Dean of KTU Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, the shortage of highly qualified mathematicians, especially in applied mathematics, is evident throughout the EU.

    “Every year, companies turn to our researchers for a variety of mathematical solutions, as the application of mathematical methods can help optimise business and production processes, solve problems in medical diagnostics and drug research, optimize organization processes and many other areas,” says Prof. Narkevičienė.

    The Dean emphasises the importance of the annual “Workshop of Mathematical Solutions in Business and Industry” where the scientists of the KTU Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences work on business cases.

    She believes that the progress and economic success of any country depends on the quality education of its people, as well as on the ability of professionals to effectively apply their knowledge and unleash their talents.

    “The need for highly skilled mathematics professionals in the job market is obvious. However, training such experts requires a high-quality, long-term PhD programme. We believe that international cooperation will enable the new programme to quickly reach the top level of quality demanded by both companies and academic institutions,” says Prof. Narkevičienė.

    The new programme covers both applied and fundamental research

    The Dean of KTU Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences is convinced that mathematics opens the doors to successful careers as there is no field in the world where it is not applied. She believes that ample opportunities wait for highly qualified professionals and independent researchers who can choose a post-doctoral researcher’s path or seek a career in business and industry.

    “Studying at three universities will provide the opportunity to receive a high quality and broad-spectrum education, learning and growing alongside world-renowned scientists,” says Prof. Narkevičienė.

    The new programme will cover both fundamental and applied mathematical research in areas such as differential equations, financial mathematics, mathematical modelling of biomedical systems, and mathematical theory of operations and its applications. Therefore, the students will have a wide choice for their research and thesis topic.

    “Those students who are thinking about careers in banking, medicine or defence may be inclined to choose applied topics. However, this doesn’t imply that fundamental research in mathematics lacks significance. I believe it will soon find applications in business which has been adopting modern technologies very rapidly. In addition, theoretical topics could be more attractive to students thinking about an academic career,” says The Dean of the KTU Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.

    Joint research projects already ongoing

    Prof. Kopa is convinced that the future students of the joint PhD programme will find the opportunity to travel across three campuses while studying, fascinating.

    “I think that a temporary move to another country or university is beneficial. It helps to make new contacts, to participate in joint research projects, to feel the pulse of other colleagues from the visiting countries,” says Charles University in Prague mathematics professor.

    He notes that there is an Erasmus agreement between KTU and Charles University in Prague in place, which should help to enhance student mobility between the two institutions.

    The Czech professor says he always feels very welcome at KTU and enjoys its friendly atmosphere. With his KTU colleagues Dr Audrius Kabašinskas and Dr Kristina Šutienė, Prof. Kopa has published several research papers in recent years and more are coming.

    “We are interested in financial mathematics, especially pension system analysis. As far as the pension system is concerned, Lithuania has a much more developed second pension pillar than the Czech Republic and other Central/Eastern European countries, that is why I like to analyse funds in Lithuania and other Baltic countries,” explains Prof. Kopa.

    Since in Lithuania, the 2nd pension pillar was established more than 15 years ago, an analysis can draw upon not only theoretical concepts but also real data. The project is funded by the Research Council of Lithuania.

    “I also enjoy lecturing to KTU undergraduates and postgraduates. While students may sometimes be shy, they are always interested in new topics,” says Prof. Kopa, who wishes the best of luck to the new PhD programme in mathematics, organised together by KTU, Charles University in Prague and The University of Göttingen in Germany.