PHD Student

Ghent University

Full time

Ghent, Belgium

Feb 24


  • Fundamental and applied research will be performed at Ghent University under the supervision of prof. Joke Baeck (Faculty of Law and Criminology), prof. Klaas Mulier (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration), and prof. Thomas Demeester (Faculty of Engineering and Architecture).
  • The proposed research fits within the FWO-funded research project “Evaluation of distressed enterprises using explainable machine learning: construction of an artificial intelligence algorithm to assist judges in Belgian Enterprise Courts”.
  • The activities of the PhD are embedded in a stimulating interdisciplinary environment, with the focus on contributions in explainable AI and corporate bankruptcy prediction, within the setting of law.
  • The PhD candidate will thus work on the intersection between Data Science, Corporate Finance and Bankruptcy Law. Depending on the candidate’s preference, emphasis can be placed either on the economic aspect (within the Corporate Finance research group), or on the computer science part (within the Internet and Data Science research group).

Job Description

  • In close collaboration with the supervisors as well as a post-doctoral researcher with expertise in both computer science and law, the Ph.D. candidate will apply machine learning techniques and tools to mine and leverage economic enterprise data (such as balance sheets and profit & loss accounts) for predicting corporate distress and potential bankruptcy to assist judges.
  • Numerical data as well as free-text notes will be injected into the models, which will require a considerable level of transparency and explainability in order to be valuable in practice.
  • Model evaluations will be performed iteratively in collaboration with Enterprise Court judges in Flanders and/or on a wider geographic scale.
  • The candidate will also contribute to developing proof-of-concept tools and rolling out field tests at Belgian Enterprise Courts.
  • The candidate will present research results at major international conferences and publish in international peer reviewed journals, as part of meeting the requirements for the PhD.

Job profile

We are looking for a highly creative and motivated PhD student with the following qualifications and skills:

  • You have (or will obtain in the next months) a master degree in Computer Science, Business Engineering, Informatics, Engineering, or equivalent, with excellent qualifications at bachelor and master level.
  • You are strongly interested in computer science (and machine learning in particular) as well as in economics and corporate finance, and have strong skills in at least one of these areas. You are eager to advance the state-of-the-art in these areas.
  • Experience with machine learning algorithmic approaches or frameworks (such as PyTorch, Tensorflow, etc.) is considered a plus.
  • You have excellent analytical skills to interpret the obtained research results.
  • You are a team player and have strong communication skills. - You have good knowledge of Dutch, and your English is fluent, both speaking and writing.

We offer

  • We offer a full-time position as a Ph.D. scholarship recipient, consisting of an initial period of 12 months, which –upon positive evaluation– will be extended to a maximum of 3 or 4 years.
  • We offer a dynamic and international work environment with a competitive salary and ample training and self-development opportunities.
  • The PhD position is available starting September 2021.

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Personal Information



Ghent University

Ghent University is a top 100 university and one of the major universities in Belgium.

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