Now hiring: A PhD position on the topic of Early predictors of school success

Now hiring: A PhD position on the topic of Early predictors of school success

Published Deadline Location
19 Aug 14 Sep Maastricht

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Job description

Description of the project

In this project we investigate (early) predictors of and mechanisms behind educational success. More specifically, we study how lifestyle, different aspects of health and (un)healthy behaviour of primary and secondary school pupils affect their educational performance and educational career. The positive relationships between healthy behaviour, the physical, mental and social health of children and their school performance are assumed as a given in many prevention policies but are poorly understood due to a lack of good data. We propose two ways of data improvement. First, we bring data from existing periodic national health surveys from Youth Health Care to the Nationaal Cohort Onderzoek Onderwijs. In addition, we collect new data at two crucial education transition moments at selected schools in primary and secondary education. We survey pupils and their parents, combining reliable and validated survey measurements with innovative ways of data collection. This provides unique data on (un)healthy behaviour, mental, physical and social health of pupils, as well as their social environment. This data combination enables us (and others) to investigate the influence of family, friends, and schools on health, behaviour, and educational performance.

Job description

The Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) of Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics is seeking to appoint one PhD candidate on the project: (Early) predictors of educational performance and careers: physical, mental and social health and behaviour. Candidates should have a solid understanding of quantitative methods, and a strong background in quantitative social science (such as quantitative sociology, demography, health sciences, economics, applied econometrics, statistics, psychology, pedagogy, or a related discipline). Experience with data collection and register data is an advantage.

The candidate will be part of a vibrant multidisciplinary research group, specialized in the relation between various dimensions of health and educational success. The project team is composed of sociologists from ROA and health scientists, psychiatrists and psychologists from the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences. The PhD candidate will be supervised by prof. dr. Tim Huijts, prof. dr. Philippe Delespaul (FHML) and prof. dr. Thérèse van Amelsvoort (FHML), and work closely with prof. dr. Mark Levels (ROA, project leader) and prof. dr. Maria Jansen (FHML). The team is further comprised of various PhD students that are working on similar topics, and a research and data manager. We will be closely coordinating the research with the national coordinator for the Nationaal Cohortonderzoek Onderwijs (prof. dr. Carla Haelermans) and her team, also based at ROA.

The PhD candidate is expected to (1) assist in data linkage and setting up data collections, and (2) complete studies that will be published in leading peer-reviewed journals.


Maastricht University (UM)


Candidates will be judged on the basis of the requirements outlined below. To be considered, candidates should make sure that their application letter demonstrates how they meet these requirements:

  • Successful completion of a Research Master degree (or two-year equivalent) in quantitative sociology, health sciences, demography, economics, applied econometrics, statistics, psychology, pedagogy, or other relevant fields.
  • Advanced skills in research design and relevant quantitative analysis, as demonstrated in education (and work, if applicable) so far.
  • Preferably experience with data collection and register data.
  • Strong analytical capacity.
  • Affinity with work in an interdisciplinary and international environment.
  • Outstanding organizational, verbal and written communication and interpersonal skills.

The planned starting date is November 1, 2022.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO). Furthermore, local UM provisions also apply. For more information look at the website > About UM > Working at UM.


Maastricht University

Maastricht University is renowned for its unique, innovative, problem-based learning system, which is characterized by a small-scale and student-oriented approach. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic approach, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. Maastricht University has around 22,000 students and about 5,000 employees. Reflecting the university's strong international profile, a fair amount of both students and staff are from abroad. The university hosts 6 faculties: Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience. For more information, visit


The Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market

The Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) is a research institute of the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics, established in 1986. The overarching research theme of ROA is the acquisition and depreciation of human capital over the life course in relation to the skills demanded on the labor market.

ROA’s mission is to conduct high quality research that has a strong policy impact. Building on a strong position in academia, ROA aims to inform and inspire policymakers and academics, and thereby to contribute to both scientific research and public and organizations’ human resource development policies. ROA’s research program is organized in four themes:

  • Education and Transition to Work
  • Health, Skills, and Inequality
  • Labor Market and Training
  • Human Capital in the Region

The first two themes focus on education and skills as point of departure and study the drivers and outcomes at the individual, organizational and societal level. The last two programs study the developments in skill supply and demand on the labor market and the interactions between the two at the national and regional level.

In these fields ROA contributes to both the academic literature and the public debate on education and labor market issues. ROA’s research activities are being carried out and supported by a dedicated scientific and support staff, consisting of about 60 employees.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society; Economics; Health
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • AT2022.362


Maastricht University (UM)

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