Individual mobility – a chance for development

Mobility between Umeå University and the surrounding community is an important form of cooperation. It contributes to a mutual exchange of knowledge and experience, and often constitutes a first step towards deeper collaboration with organisations outside the academy.


Photo: Elin Berge

Individual mobility can contribute to strengthening the research and education conducted at Umeå University in several ways. Through the exchange of skills, we build networks and let knowledge meet new contexts and problems.

An example of personnel mobility is when people from other organisations are co-opted or affiliated to the university for a period of time. Another is when our researchers and teachers spend part of their working time at a company or organisation to, for instance, collaborate on a specific research problem.


Co-opting people to the university may be relevant when a specific competence is needed, or to strengthen the connection to the surrounding society.

Worth considering

  • What is the purpose? Is there, for example, a need for special competence in teaching, in a research project or in order to develop new courses or modules?
  • What are the specific tasks that the person being co-opted must perform?

  • How does this benefit the department and the university, in the short and long term? Can the person who is co-opted share their knowledge and experience with teachers and researchers so that competence is developed and retained? 

Would you like to know more about co-opting? Please contact the personnel function at your faculty.

Outward personnel mobility

Outward personnel mobility is when employees at Umeå University stay in an external organisation, which often contribute to development for both parties.

For example, researchers and teachers can gain valuable insights into an organisation's current challenges, as well as the systems and methods used in practice. This can then be related to education and/or research. The organisation, for its part, can get help with everything from subject expertise to contact with both the research front and university students.

Outward personnel mobility can either take place within the framework of the employment at Umeå University or through leave of absence.

Within the position at Umeå university

In general, these steps are good to follow:

  • Contact the personnel function at your department/faculty to get updated information and help.
  • Ask the head of department to make a written request to the external party.
  • Book a personal meeting where you go through, and agree on, tasks, scope in time and expectations of the collaboration from all parties. 
  • Create a joint letter of intent to be signed by both the head of department and the manager at the workplace. Here it should also be stated whether the time spent externally is seen as fulfillment of working time in research, teaching or administration, or as skills development.
  • Clarify what applies to results and IPR (intellectual property rights). Is a non-disclosure agreement required? In that case, contact one of the legal officers at Umeå University for further advice.
  • Raise the issue of union cooperation with the receiving organisation.
  • Submit the signed letter of intent to the faculty's personnel secretary.

Outside the position – shorter assignment for an external party

In most cases, this means going through the standard procedure for applying for unpaid leave.

Read more about unpaid leave


There are various funding opportunities that can facilitate mobility.

Tips on mobility funders

Internal planning for an external stay

Worth considering

  • Planning an external stay should take place in consultation between the head of department and teacher/researcher. Make an initial agreement and then check this on an ongoing basis – before, during and after.
  • Remember to take into account, for example, pension and social security systems. It is important that such issues are clarified before any agreements are signed. Do you have any questions? Contact the Human Resources Office.
  • Be sure to plan well in advance. Create opportunities to remove something from normal tasks and find a substitute if necessary.
  • Choose an external environment where there are both opportunities for and interest in collaboration.
  • Agree on a suitable arrangement. For example, are occasional visits for one to two months sufficient or should the external stay be at least one day a week for an entire semester?
  • Be curious. Get to know the receiving organisation by asking questions and, if possible, participating in, for example, coffee. This has been pointed out as important by academics who have been in external organisations in the past.
  • Keep in mind that the exchange may lead to continued collaboration opportunities and look at ways to ensure the transition to your department. Would it be possible to use your newly acquired skills in a broader perspective?


The Research Support and Collaboration Office


Lena Holmberg