Proposals to increase rights
KTH’s management is well aware of the problems surrounding researchers, says Dean of Faculty Katja Grillner. The Faculty Council has therefore established a working group that has completed an investigation and come up with several suggestions as to how to improve the situation.
“One important issue to get to grips with is influence. We propose that all researchers who have a long-term association with KTH are given voting rights at the Faculty Assembly.” says Katja Grillner.
The problems relating to researchers’ career development – an issue that has been raised by a researcher network at KTH – can be traced back to the introduction of the academic career system Tenure Track. It is in itself a successful and positive reform, she says.
“It has strengthened our international recruitment, reduced the risk of academic nepotism and weeded out any lack of clarity and shortcuts into the system. But its clarity means that the system creates barriers for employees outside Tenure Track, including researchers and lecturers. Both these categories of employee are important for KTH, but researchers’ conditions in relation to Tenure Track have been particularly poorly defined,” says Katja Grillner.
Researchers can, however, apply for a docent position. The working group is now also proposing that researchers who are docents are given the right to examine at postgraduate level.
With regard to researchers’ teaching time, Katja Grillner can see several explanations for why many teach despite it not being their original plan.
“You can end up taking on a teaching role because you’re good at it. A researcher is also easier to recruit and some may want to handpick their teachers. But we shouldn’t be recruiting in that way. It should be a process involving open competition.”
All areas of activity that involve researchers who do a lot of teaching will now be urged to analyse how the situation has come about. The reasons may vary. Are there associate professors and professors who do not do any teaching at all? Is there a shortage of teaching staff?
“Most of all, the researchers who are in this situation need to be given support and the opportunity to discuss their future. Ensuring they don’t teach for more than 20 percent of their time could be a possible solution.”
The schools are also being encouraged to develop their skills provision plans, in order to create more cohesive procedures. The working group is also keen to see researchers being included in KTH’s appointments procedure, which currently only regulates teaching positions. This will make the system easier to understand for both managers and employees.
“The dissatisfaction felt by some researchers may be down to lack of clarity. It’s hard to know what rules apply,” says Katja Grillner.
Text: Ann Patmalnieks