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Conditions for PhD students and postdocs

A doctoral degree can be an opportunity to fulfil your dream, but it can also mean tough working conditions. Information and important terms and conditions that apply to students who intend to become, or already are, PhD student or postdocs can be found below.

Becoming a PhD student means that you have been admitted to a postgraduate degree course. There are two degrees in postgraduate education in Sweden today:

  • Licentiate, which comprises 120 higher education credits, i.e. two years of full-time studies. The thesis must be equivalent to at least 60 higher education credits.
  • Studies up to a doctoral degree include 240 higher education credits, i.e. four years of full-time studies. The thesis must be the equivalent of at least 120 higher education credits.

In order to be admitted to a postgraduate programme, the applicant must:

  • Possess the basic qualification, which is a university education equivalent to 270 higher education credits.
  • Fulfil any special qualifications that the university/university college/faculty may have established.
  • Fulfil the preconditions to complete the programme.
  • According to the Higher Education Ordinance, which regulates all higher education programmes, universities may only accept students for postgraduate education who can be offered supervision and acceptable study conditions in general and whose positions are financed in some way.

It is possible to be employed as a PhD student or to use other types of funding. New legislation stipulates that the university is required to employ PhD students on scholarships when three years remain of their study period. This change will come into force on 1 July 2018 and apply to those who are admitted from that date.

There is no interim or probationary employment period in postgraduate education. You are entitled to be admitted directly. A person who commences postgraduate education without being formally admitted is usually called a shadow PhD student. These often live in a very uncertain world as they are usually funded by scholarships, which do not provide social insurance benefits. There may also be problems in laboratory subjects if university insurance covers only formally-admitted students. There is also no guarantee that a person who is a shadow PhD student will actually be admitted.

Naturvetarna's positions on PhD student issues:

  • Permanent positions must be the norm after your first post-doctoral appointment.
  • Mobility between academia and the rest of the labour market needs be improved, and scientists' career opportunities outside academia need to be promoted more strongly.
  • PhD positions shall be publicly advertised and the recruitment process needs to be transparent and based on equal criteria.
  • Academia must encourage quality, creativity and equal opportunities.
  • All higher education and research must be of the highest quality, and we believe that good employment conditions lead to higher quality.
  • Working at a university must be equated with a strong position on the labour market, high status, and good working conditions.
  • The pedagogical education of PhD students must be prioritised, and teaching should not be seen as a secondary work task.
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