Publisert 21. desember 2023 kl. 16:37
Until February 2022, political scientist Ivan Fomin and human rights researcher Dmitry Dubrovsky (pictured) worked at the Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Russia. As critics of the current regime, they chose to leave the country after Russia invaded Ukraine and are now teaching a programme in Russian politics at Charles University in Prague. They were recently invited by Professor Kari Aga Myklebost of the University of Tromsø to talk about academic freedom in Russia.
Both men experience that their lives are in limbo. Not only are their research careers in jeopardy whenever contracts expire, but also their chances of getting a visa. Dubrovsky is taking an added risk by teaching Russian students online for the independent Free University, set up by academics after Crimea was annexed. With the Norwegian sanctions against Russian academia, Myklebost says that even working with colleagues at HSE on a personal level may put them at risk, adding: ‘The best we can do now is to work with researchers in exile.’
Nadim Khoury is an associate professor at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences. His research focuses on the potential for Israelis and Palestinians to live together in a democracy. The war in Gaza may have changed everything.
’Does your dual identity as a Palestinian political scientist give you different answers to the question: Is Gaza is experiencing genocide?’
‘Yes. For my people this is genocide. Israel says they are targeting Hamas, but this is collective punishment. As an academic I try to see if reality fits with UN’s definition of genocide as an act intended to destroy an ethnic group, but it’s complicated. Some say it isn’t genocide because Israel has asked people to move south. I wouldn’t have said this a few weeks ago, but we need our own state to feel safe.’
’What about an academic boycott of Israel?’
‘Yes, of course. Think of Russia – or South Africa, where a boycott helped to end apartheid. It’s the only weapon we have in civil society.’
Which trade union university and university college employees belong to has had a direct impact on their salaries in 2023. Members of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions and the Confederation of Vocational Unions have received a universal pay rise of 31,000 kroner, whereas members of the Confederation of Unions for Professionals and the Federation of Norwegian Professional Associations have had increases of up to 7.4 percent. Clearly, those on low incomes gain less from pay rise in percent, while those on high incomes gain more. Little was given in individual increases this year.
The government has asked universities to hire more staff on permanent contracts. According to figures from the Database for Statistics on Higher Education (DBH), some universities and colleges have shown a slight improvement, with altogether 11.12 percent temporary staff in 2022 and 10.54 percent in 2023. Yet there are big variations between institutions. The University of Oslo has most temporary staff, dropping from 14.71 percent last year to 14.27 percent this year. Statistics are based on the institutions’ annual reports to DBH and show full-time equivalents on the count date of 1 October.