Publisert 9. november 2022 kl. 13:13
A survey conducted by the Norwegian Association of Researchers (NAR) reveals that over 50 percent of temporary staff think it is unrealistic to expect to get a permanent job. One of them is Bjarte Aarmo Lund (pictured), a postdoc at the Arctic University of Norway who gave up his dream of a career in research and became a programmer instead.
‘I was disappointed at not being offered a permanent post at the university and I gradually lost the motivation to continue,’ says Lund, who now enjoys working in a professional environment, with a higher salary and less overtime. He still recommends research positions at universities, but only if the goal is not just a permanent job.
According to president of NAR Guro Elisabeth Lind, it isn’t unusual that academics start working in the private sector, not least for financial reasons. Referring to the results of the survey, she expresses concern that in the future it will be difficult for universities to both recruit researchers and hold onto competent staff.
The government proposes to remove earmarked funding for PhD candidates and postdoctoral positions. In an interview with Forskerforum, pro-rector Finn-Arne Weltzien at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) expresses fears that the national budget will affect the recruitment of researchers at universities and university colleges.
Isn’t it better to have greater freedom in higher education?
‘In theory, yes. But with the difficult times we’re facing now, I’m quite sure it will mean cuts in the number of research posts available. This will lead to less research and fewer published articles. Universities in Northern Norway may be in favour of this flexibility, but here in the south we must prioritise our huge energy bills.’
What is the alternative?
‘Maybe this money could be earmarked for academic research positions instead. This would prevent research being deprioritised, and provide more flexibility. It might also help solve the problem with all the temporary jobs in the sector.’
The government’s proposed national budget for 2023 means a decrease in real terms for the vast majority of universities and colleges. Some of the most popular study programmes at the University of Bergen (UiB), created with extra funds provided during the pandemic, risk being cut. Universities in southern Norway are particularly concerned about increased energy prices. Institutions also face higher wage levels and cuts to travel costs. The unexpected requirement for non-EU/EEA students to pay tuition fees is meant to ease the situation, but a dean at UiB doubts that it will help.
Minister of Research and Higher Education Ola Borten Moe has announced that the amount of applications and of resources spent on writing research applications is to go down, while the percentage of successful applications is to rise. In a letter to the Research Council, he writes that no less than 25 percent of applications should be granted. CEO Mari Sundli Tveit says to Khrono that she hopes to implement a new system by next summer. The proposed changes include limiting the number of applications per institution, suspensions for weak assessment, and flexible funding per application.