SiN has passed the following positions
- Internationalization (spring 2022, English/Norsk)
- Quality in PhD Education (fall 2021)
- Postdoctoral training (fall 2021)
- Collective organization of PhDs and Postdocs (fall 2021)
- Effects of the Pandemic (fall 2021)
It is the position of Stipendiatorganisasjonene i Norge (SiN) that internationalization in the Norwegian academic sector is a net positive for Norway and Norwegian society.
SiN, as an organization, believes that international researchers, and indeed international research provide a net benefit to Norway. Science and knowledge are, by nature, borderless; acknowledging this will enable Norway to recruit the best and brightest researchers to its institutes of higher education. In addition to raising Norway’s profile on the international research scene, international researchers bring tangible and intangible benefits to Norway – regardless of whether they remain in Norway after finishing their studies or move to another country. International dissemination of research brings attention to groundbreaking work performed in Norway, including work with direct impact on Norwegian society.
Researchers who stay in Norway will contribute not only to their research area but will play a role in shaping the future of Norway through their work as professors or researchers at Norway’s universities and university colleges. This can range from taking an active role in educating the next generations, participating in public debate, as well as a more general strengthening of and drawing visibility to the Norwegian research and teaching community. Furthermore, early-career researchers who leave academia and join the Norwegian workforce can apply their competencies and knowledge to their new positions.
Furthermore, most academic positions, permanent or otherwise, at Norwegian institutes of higher learning require experience from an international research environment, making in- and outbound mobility of PhD and postdoctoral researchers all the more important. SiN believes that more can be done in terms of incentivizing young researchers to remain in Norway after completing their PhDs. Potential incentives range from more-easily accessible language and integration courses to more opportunities both within and especially outside of academia for holders of PhD degrees.
Researchers who choose to leave Norway after completing their PhD studies or postdoctoral fellowships also benefit Norway by diversifying Norwegian research networks. By virtue of having worked in Norway for the duration of their doctoral or postdoctoral careers, these researchers will have established strong networks within the Norwegian research community. These linkages between researchers bring attention to research areas where Norwegian research leads the way and increase the profile of Norwegian researchers and Norwegian institutions.
SiN’s position is that internationalization of research is a net positive. Internationalization should include Norwegian early-career researchers going abroad, as well as international researchers coming to Norway for their PhD studies and post-doctoral research. While SiN recognizes the importance of strong domestic research communities in specific areas such as law, we believe that these communities will only benefit from the inclusion of international researchers. A more balanced research milieu in all fields will encourage more cross-cultural and international cooperation, in turn increasing knowledge generated by Norwegian institutions, and raising Norway’s global research profile.
- Internationalization is a net positive, regardless of whether it comes as increased integration and participation by non-Norwegian researchers or Norwegian researchers.
- More work is needed towards this goal, both in terms of integration of non-Norwegian academics and incentives for an academic career for Norwegians.
Stipendiatorganisasjonene I Norge (SiN) mener at internasjonalisering i UH-sektoren er positivt for Norge og det norske samfunnet.
SiN mener at internasjonale forskere og internasjonal forskning gir en netto gevinst for Norge. Vitenskap og kunnskap kjenner ingen landegrenser, og en erkjennelse av dette vil muliggjøre rekruttering av de beste og dyktigste forskerne til den norske UH-sektoren. I tillegg til å løfte Norges profil på den internasjonale forskningsscenen, tilfører internasjonale forskere konkrete og immaterielle fordeler til Norge – uavhengig av om de blir her etter endte studier eller flytter til et annet land. Internasjonal formidling av forskning kan også rette oppmerksomheten mot banebrytende forskning utført i Norge, inkludert forskning med direkte påvirkning på det norske samfunnet.
Forskere som oppholder seg i Norge vil ikke bare eksplisitt bidra til eget forskningsområde, de vil også bidra i å forme Norges fremtid gjennom arbeidet som ansatt ved norske universiteter og høgskoler, eksempelvis gjennom en aktiv rolle i utdanningen av neste generasjoner, ved deltakelse i det offentlige ordskiftet, eller gjennom en generell styrking og synliggjøring av det norske forsknings- og undervisningsmiljøet. Videre kan forskere tidlig i karrieren som forlater akademia for en jobb i det norske arbeidslivet, bruke sin kompetanse og kunnskap i sine nye stillinger.
De fleste akademiske stillinger ved norske høyere utdanningsinstitusjoner, faste eller andre, krever også ofte erfaring fra et internasjonalt forskningsmiljø, noe som gjør inn- og utgående mobilitet av PhD- og postdoktorer desto viktigere. SiN mener det kan gjøres mer for å stimulere unge ikke-norske forskere til å bli i Norge etter fullført doktorgrad. Potensielle insentiver spenner fra mer tilgjengelige språk- og integreringskurs til flere muligheter både innenfor og spesielt utenfor akademia for dem med doktorgrader.
Forskere som velger å forlate Norge etter fullførte PhD-studier eller postdoktor-arbeid, vil gjennom sin tilknytning til norske forskningsmiljø, også kunne utgjøre en fordel for norske interesser. I kraft av å ha jobbet i Norge i løpet av sin doktorgrads- eller postdoktorkarriere, vil disse forskerne ha etablert sterke nettverk i det norske forskningsmiljøet. Disse koblingene mellom forskere bringer oppmerksomhet til forskningsområder der norsk forskning leder an, noe som kan tenkes å øke profilen til norske forskere og norske institusjoner.
SiNs oppfatning er at internasjonalisering av forskning er netto positivt. Internasjonalisering bør inkludere norske forskere tidlig i karrieren som reiser til utlandet, samt internasjonale forskere som kommer til Norge for doktorgradsstudier og postdoktor-arbeid. SiN anerkjenner viktigheten av sterke nasjonale forskningsmiljøer på spesifikke områder som eksempelvis jus, men vi mener samtidig at disse miljøene også vil dra nytte av å inkludere internasjonale forskere. Et mer balansert forskningsmiljø på alle felt vil stimulere til mer tverrkulturelt og internasjonalt samarbeid, noe som følgelig vil øke kunnskapen fra norske institusjoner, og øke Norges internasjonale forskningsprofil.
- Internasjonalisering er netto positivt, uavhengig om det kommer i form av økt integrering og deltakelse fra ikke-norske forskere eller fra norske forskere.
- Det trengs mer målrettet arbeid i så henseende, både når det gjelder integrering av ikke-norske akademikere og insentiver for en akademisk karriere for norske forskere.
Quality in PhD Education
The Norwegian PhD program should prepare candidates for future careers both inside and outside the academic sector while also providing all candidates with academic excellence in their doctoral education.
The doctoral education is the basic requirement for a continued career within academia. Over the last twenty years, Norway has more than doubled the number of PhD positions, from 700 PhD graduates in 2002 to 1600 in 2020. As a result, the number of annual PhD graduates has far surpassed the demand within the academic sector. This means that the competition for permanent positions in academia has increased dramatically and that a significant portion of PhD graduates will be employed in non-academic sectors.
SiN therefore believes that the PhD education should be structured to accommodate this diversity of post-graduate career paths. A flexible structure will make it possible to tailor the trajectory of a PhD to better meet the requirements for a career (whether in or outside academia), while still providing candidates with academic excellence in their doctoral education. Measures should also be in place to increase PhD students’ awareness of the breadth of future career opportunities. In this regard, universities play a key role in providing career guidance as well as more opportunities to collaborate with non-academic sectors through industrial and public sector PhD programs. SiN is critical towards universities using the number of annual PhD graduates as the sole way of evaluating the quality of their PhD programs. Alternative ways for evaluation should be considered. PhDs in need of additional time after their contract has expired should be allowed to receive additional funding, either through the possibility of grant applications or through unemployment benefits from NAV.
Furthermore, it is SiN’s opinion that the normative time of employment as a doctoral student should be the 3 + 1 model with 25% duty work, rather than three years. An additional year will allow PhD candidates to expand their academic and non-academic skills and gain a broader understanding of their research field. SiN also promotes the possibility that part of the 25% duty work is used to gain experience by working in or collaborating with non-academic partner institutions. Ideally, duty work can encompass a range of tasks, including teaching, research dissemination, project management, supervision of master and bachelor students, etc., that can be combined to match the interests, ambitions, and future career of the individual. A career plan should be drafted by the PhD candidate together with their supervisor and department tailored to the wishes of the PhD candidate.
- The PhD education must reflect future career possibilities both inside and outside of academia
- Career development should primarily be tailored to the interests of the candidate.
Postdocs are meant to prepare researchers for senior academic positions such as associate professor or professor. The primary purpose of doing a postdoc should therefore be to qualify for research and teaching on the highest academic level. It must be ensured that postdoc positions are not used as just “cheap labour” for projects.
The number of announced postdoc positions within a respective field should be in a realistic relation to the available senior academic positions. The reason for this is that the postdoc position is, in contrast to the PhD degree, a qualification mainly aiming for academia. Here the appropriate consideration of international fluctuation and the practice of completing more than one postdoc positions is challenging, however, there will still be a share of the postdoc candidates that will choose a career path out of academia after their post-docs.
The requirements regarding time/duration, work, and education that are done for a given postdoc period can vary significantly depending upon the respective field and the respective candidate. Taking into account the purpose of qualification, we encourage flexible use of a set percentage of their working time that enables postdocs to strengthen their skills in fields that match their professional needs and ambitions and leave the implementation up to the individual. However, all postdoc positions should enable the candidate to develop his individual skillset (e.g. by allocating 25% of his full-time equivalent).
While we advocate for a postdoc position that is competitive on an international level, we still think that it should be possible to apply for extended postdocs if the goal is to continue at the institution or country of residence. For more successful integration of talented postdocs we recommend the use of (changing to) tenure track positions to give young researchers a reliable career perspective and security.
A postdoc education cannot be seen on an isolated national scale, it needs to be competitive and compatible with international career pathways. Postdoc positions that are tailored for a Norwegian career may deter international applicants from applying, resulting in potentially missing talents entering the academic sector in Norway, as well as be a hindrance for those who wish to have an academic career outside of Norway after doing a postdoc.
- Postdoctoral training should be primarily a qualifying step for top academic positions in a global research community
- Like PhD positions, postdoctoral positions should offer space for competence development in areas important to academia through an (optional) fixed percentage of non-research activities.
Collective organization of PhD and Postdocs
SiN is committed to protecting the interests and making the voices heard of all PhDs and postdocs in Norway, when it comes to matters of higher education and research policy.
It is our aim that all (post-)doctoral researchers are represented through local interest organizations, connected through the inter-institutional network that SiN provides, and strengthened by procedures of open dialogue and consultation. To this end, SiN promotes the collective organization of PhD students and postdocs at all institutions where they are embedded, in order to effectively raise their concerns at the universities that employ them, the wider national governance arena, and in international collaborations.
We believe that all higher education and research institutions that enroll and employ early career research can play a key role in facilitating this collective voice, and we therefore advocate for the right of PhDs and postdocs to receive the key infrastructure, administrative support and funding required to establish and operate an effective local doctoral interest organization at their institution. In recognition of the fixed-term employment of the members that these organisations are supposed to represent and the fact that representation and organization can only be as good as the time available to the people in charge of them, we strongly recommend all institutions to compensate for these efforts in a form that is commensurate with the value of the time devoted to them and scaled to the size of the organisation.
We make these recommendations in the knowledge that the presence of strong doctoral organisations is a necessary tier to mobilise and engage the voices of temporary researchers across all levels of higher education and research governance, and will benefit both the individual researchers, the intellectual and professional climate at their institutions and Norwegian society at large.
- All institutions that offer PhD and postdoctoral programmes should help to establish a local organization that represents their interests, by offering them the required infrastructure, administrative resources and funding.
- PhDs and postdocs who contribute to the daily operation of these interest organisations should be compensated for their work commensurate with their contractual wages.
The effects of the pandemic
Since March 2020, COVID-19 has had an ongoing impact on research and higher education. The effects of the pandemic will persist and have consequences for academia and young researchers long after the measures have been lifted. PhDs and postdocs are at a stage in their careers that is crucial for their future in academia, and as temporary employees, on fixed term contracts, COVID-19 has hit us particularly hard.
Despite the institutional underspending because of the pandemic, it is still very difficult for PhDs to get contract extensions to compensate COVID-19 related delays, as well as measures that mitigate the changes in the – and sometimes complete lack of – socio-academic infrastructure. This has been especially challenging for researchers who started just before or during COVID-19 and have not had the chance to establish a network and integrate into their working environment.
We think it is very concerning that Norwegian institutions have and still are handling the pandemic so differently, creating arbitrary differences in the treatment of PhDs and postdocs between universities, faculties, and departments, right down to the level of individual research groups. We demand that the government intervenes and helps to make sure that all researchers on temporary contracts get at least a 2-month extension of their contracts. In addition, there should be a financial capacity to give longer extensions to those who need it, based on a more inclusive set of criteria that does not involve lengthy procedures where they have to argue for individual circumstances that are hard to measure objectively. People have and still are experiencing differences in the way their work is affected by the pandemic, and this needs to be acknowledged without it creating an unnecessary bureaucratic burden.
We also demand that all institutions make it a priority to provide alternative socio-academic programmes to their (post)-doctoral researchers, that afford networking and learning opportunities in the form of workshops, seminars, lectures, and other career development. This is needed to get early career researchers up to speed after more than a year of minimal professional and educational activities. If we want quality research in the future, we need to support those who will create this research now.
- SiN urgently recommends a minimum of two months extensions for all PhDs and postdocs to compensate for research delays caused by the pandemic
- Extra socio-academic events and infrastructure are needed to give the hired PhDs and postdocs the career development opportunities they missed since early 2020, and should start as soon as possible (ideally in fall 2021), and last for however long is necessary.