A new and much welcome postdoctoral agreement

6 December 2021

The new agreement for postdoctoral appointments will benefit postdoctoral fellows, higher education institutions and Sweden's international competitiveness alike.

The higher education sector has long since expressed a desire to renegotiate the current postdoctoral agreement, not least to extend the maximum period of postdoctoral appointments. The Swedish Agency for Government Employers, the Public Employees' Negotiation Council (OFR) and Saco-S have now agreed on a new agreement for fixed-term appointments of postdoctoral fellows. The agreement is valid from 1 February 2022 and will replace previous agreements.

Hans Adolfsson, Vice-Chancellor, Umeå University

Photo: Mattias Pettersson

I'm pleased that the agreement has now been settled. The new agreement contains several improvements that will be advantageous for postdoctoral fellows, Umeå University and Sweden's international competitiveness in general.

The biggest improvement is that the new agreement supports the university in appointing postdoctoral fellows for a longer period of time, now for a maximum of three years instead of two. The agreement also enables prospective postdoctoral fellows to apply for appointment before completing their doctoral degree, which was previously a limitation. Please note, however, that the doctoral degree must be completed before the appointment decision is made.

A potential three-year postdoctoral appointment means that we can ensure a more secure and long-term employment for the postdoctoral fellow, for the head of research and for the research environment. Since a postdoctoral appointment is often the first step in the academic career, a longer appointment period enables better opportunities for the postdoctoral fellow to gain the expertise and qualifications needed for a future assistant or associate professorship. An opportunity to offer a three-year postdoctoral appointment is also better suited to the time periods for external project grants often used to fund postdoctoral appointments.

We compete internationally for competent postdoctoral fellows and I'm certain that the new agreement will strengthen Sweden as a knowledge nation and hence increase the university's international attractivity. It's crucial that we safeguard a diversity of students and staff, and international postdoctoral fellows add the skills, experiences and perspectives needed to develop the university's academic environment. Now, we will be able to provide this group of employees with better terms.

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