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Currently I'm a master in statistics student in a European country and I'm planning to graduate in June 2021. During my master's thesis, I became interested in doing research and therefore, I have decided to pursue a PhD. I've already started looking for PhD vacancies at different universities but they all seem to look for someone who can start immediately. I've also made a list of potential supervisors and research groups that I want to contact, since sometimes not all available PhD positions are mentioned on the websites of the universities. My question now is: when should I start contacting potential supervisors? I'm afraid to contact them too early and that they haven't got time yet to look for funding or projects.

I'm mostly interested in doing a PhD in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany or France.

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    Hi and welcome to Academia SE. Europe is not a uniform block, and each country has its own admission procedures and schedules. So, please, specify which countries you are considering, otherwise the question would be likely closed as too broad. – Massimo Ortolano Jan 13 at 13:31
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Can't give you a generic answer, but here is my particular situation: I am an assistant professor in the Netherlands. Contacting me to pursue a PhD is futile, since I have no funding at the moment to host PhDs. If such funding would become available (which can happen at any time; there is no rhythm to this), positions will appear on my university's vancancies page. You are most welcome to apply to any such positions, but contacting me beforehand is not necessary.

In all of the Netherlands, PhD students are viewed as university employees. Therefore, a PhD vacancy is not a matter of student admission, but a matter of employee hiring. As a consequence, the human resources department will manage the bulk of the procedure; although professors definitely get to choose people that would be a good topical match, the hiring process is much more centralized than in some other countries. In Germany, situations vary: at some universities and in some groups, PhD positions are 100% paid as jobs, while at other universities and in other groups, PhD positions are 50% employee, 50% student. I cannot vouch for the situation in Belgium and/or France.

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