A cross-disciplinary doctorate to become a better policymaker
Having previously studied for a master’s degree at the University of Oxford, Ivaylo Iaydjiev was already well acquainted with Oxford and followed the Blavatnik School of Government’s development and events with interest, until he became one of the first four students to join our newly launched doctoral programme in 2014.
“My interest lies in policy with an international dimension, and I felt that the Blavatnik School of Government offered exactly that. I did not want to pursue an academic career – for me studying for a doctorate is a way become a better policymaker. The fact that the DPhil at the School is geared towards training people to be better practitioners – rather than necessarily just academics – is one of the reasons which made me decide to apply.”
Before coming to the Blavatnik School, Ivaylo was involved with policy-making and cooperation in a variety of roles, mainly working as advisor to the Bulgarian deputy-Minister of Defence during the caretaker government in 2014. Prior to that, he was a strategy and policy analyst at the Office of the President of Bulgaria and a trainee at the European Commission.
His work at the School focuses on global financial governance and in particular how to ensure the cooperation necessary for efficient and equitable financial integration that also serves the needs of developing countries. For his DPhil he is exploring the role of international institutions in cross–border banking regulation, with a focus on the boom-and-bust cycle that led to the twin Eastern European and Eurozone crises.
Like most policy questions, it’s a broad topic and requires insights from more than one discipline to answer it. In Ivaylo’s case, the question spans across international relations and political sciences, but also political economy, finance and law. He explains:
“I don’t feel bound to a discipline. My research focuses on answering a specific question and to be able to answer it in policy terms, boundaries between disciplines have to come down. At the Blavatnik School, I am encouraged to think about the audience for my research as practitioners, rather than academics.”
The time investment was also a reason that attracted Ivaylo towards the Blavatnik School doctoral programme:
“Most doctorates require a substantial time investment in the academic environment, which is perfect for those who want to continue their career in academia. But I didn’t want to spend too much time away from practicing in the ‘real-world’ of policymaking, and the three years for the Blavatnik School doctorate seemed right.”
Part of Ivaylo’s work is speaking to senior policy practitioners about their experience before and after the banking crisis – for example at the International Monetary Fund, or the World Bank. He’s confident that studying at the University of Oxford helps with contacting senior-level people, and he’s also benefitted from meeting useful contacts for his research through the School’s events and seminars.
When it comes to talking about the future, Ivaylo’s idea is to work in international institutions on financial regulation issues. He would like to maintain a focus on Europe, and perhaps one day go back to Bulgaria to work in public administration.
Ivaylo Iaydjiev completed his DPhil in Public Policy in November 2018.