Answer by Sathyamyla Kanthabhabhajeya:
Being a PhD student in Sweden, I think, I can write my views on Scandinavian Schools. Because, it is even different system within Europe.
In Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, a PhD study extends from 4 to 5 years. And this length varies if additional teaching duties included. In these countries, according to the school, a PhD student is considered as employee. So, the student will receive a monthly salary which is taxable. It is not scholarship. In Sweden for example, a PhD student pays approximately 28% tax to the Government. And the salary, is utmost equal to the grad students earning from industry.
The school also provides work space other than the lab. Usually, one will get access to a Desktop or Laptop and a working area with internet. The student gets hold of all publications from any publication society for free, since the schools pay for them. Necessary software, or other resources for the research can be purchased through the project funding from the research group, one is working for.
A PhD student is allowed to either present or simply attend at least one conference happening anywhere in the world. And the expenses for the travel, registration, etc are taken care by the research group. And depending on the research group, there may be a need for some course credits to be obtained during the study years.
In Sweden, there is one more half-way degree called Licentiate. It also varies between different departments that in some, this degree is mandatory. For this degree, one needs to write a thesis, and defend his/her research work so far. An opponent will be present.
The nature of research is more self motivating. Since the number of years of study is more, the student gets the freedom to take time and involve in the problem and analyze different possible solutions to it. A supervisor and a co-supervisor will be there to guide you.
To sum up, it’s challenging in a different way, and less stressful on the funding and economical part, able to travel and meet people who works in your research field, one can also go for study visits, a better office setup, gain employee status in the schools and better research environments.
From what I heard from friends, not in all universities in US help in scholarships & funds. The students need to spend time in project/scholarship applications.