Publisert 20. desember 2023 kl. 12:07
In a survey on working conditions in the institute sector, half the respondents say they work more than a normal working week, and many answer that not enough time or funding is allocated to research projects. According to Sebastian Eiter (pictured), senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, the results of the survey point to a disparity between what clients want and what institutes can provide. He says that no one should feel pressured to work more than they are supposed to. Another problem is that researchers accumulate extra hours without ever being compensated for them.
The survey also reveals that there are positive sides to working in the institute sector, however, with many respondents very satisfied with their working environment. Most researchers say they have access to good channels for publishing their own work and good opportunities for professional development. The vast majority also have permanent positions, in contrast to researchers in higher education.
Rector Klaus Mohn of the University of Stavanger (UiS) is critical of the government’s budget proposal for 2024, with its 0.7 percent real reduction in funding to universities and colleges compared with this year’s revised budget. He says that the UiS will lose out because the government has prioritised education over research and institutions with decentralised solutions over those with a single campus. The UiS has invested in research and also internationalisation, while non-EU/EEA students now have to pay tuition fees.
The government calls the cuts a reduction aimed at releasing funds for new investments and priorities, but for Mohn they are a continuation of the previous government’s controversial cuts. Not all universities are losers, however.
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences is among the multicampus institutions set to benefit from the budget. They will get 40 new student places and funding for a research centre. Other winners include the Arctic University of Norway.
– Fixed-term appointments are only allowed when competence in creative or performing arts is an essential element of the requirements. The government thinks this exemption clause is being abused by arts academies and wants to see more permanent appointments. Professor Live Maria Roggen at the Norwegian Academy of Music agrees.
– Is it ever sensible to use fixed-term contracts?
– The reason it’s allowed is to attract fresh blood. It gives flexibility for changes in content and teaching forms. But it takes time to become a good teacher and understand how an institution works. The best solution would be to require institutions to give precise reasons for fixed-term appointments in each instance, otherwise it shouldn’t be allowed.
– Is it better for employees to be hired for maximum six years rather than twelve, as the government proposes?
– Twelve years is a long time to devote yourself to something and then leave. Maybe it’s easier after six years to maintain networks and become a freelancer again.