Information about scholarships

The purpose of a postdoctoral scholarship is to enable researchers to visit Umeå University and carry out independent research in order to qualify for further training and academic positions. There are certain conditions for scholarships in Sweden.

Internal and external scholarships

In Sweden, scholarships are tax free as long as they are given for educational purposes and not compensation for work. 

There are two different kinds of scholarships at Umeå University:

  • Internal - scholarship paid to you via Umeå University, regulated in Rule for scholarships at Umeå University
  • External - scholarship paid directly to you from the funding body. Each funding body decides about the conditions and routines (for example Kempestiftelserna, Carl Tryggers Stiftelse)

There are differences between internal and external scholarship when it comes to conditions, payment routines e.g.

Scholarship conditions

The following applies for all scholarships (both internal and external)

  • You cannot work when you have a tax free scholarship. Teaching and supervising students is regarded as work and therefore not allowed.
  • You are not employed and do not have access to employment benefits such as fitness reimbursement.
  • You cannot receive any taxed payments during your time as a scholarship holders. If so, you might have to pay tax for all your income.
  • You cannot receive any unemployment benefits after the scholarship ends.
  • You do not have any official parental leave, but instead the scholarship normally continues to be paid out - this can vary depending on research group, department and scholarship foundation.
  • You do not receive any payments into any pension scheme.
  • In case you turn ill, no sick deduction is made on your scholarship. If you are on long-term sick leave, you and your supervisor must agree together on how you will solve your research assignment. No sickness benefit is paid from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency.
  • You are encouraged to take at least 25 days of vacation each year. There will be no deduction of your scholarship. We recommend that you plan your vacation in discussion with your supervisor.
  • You have access to certain parts of the occupational healthcare supply.
  • You might have access to national health benefits based on "living in Sweden" from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. See checklist.
  • You can be a member with the local union SULF and get some support and have access to some of their member benefits.

Development plan

To make it clear that the scholarship is intended for further qualifications and does not constitute compensation for work, the head of department is responsible for making sure that a professional development plan is drawn up and a supervisor is appointed. The aim of the plan is to guarantee that the scholarship holder will receive high-quality training, as well as to show that the scholarship is awarded for educational purposes and not as compensation for work.

Draft of a professional development plan for scholarship holders. 

Development plan

Taxation rules

The rules for scholarships are regulated in the Income Tax Act (1999:1229). The Swedish Tax Agency states that:

A scholarship is tax exempt if

  • it is intended for the education of the recipient or the recipient receives the scholarship for other reasons than the recipient's education such as research
  • disbursements are not made periodically, i.e. disbursed over a period exceeding three years, or monthly exceeding one year
  • the condition that a scholarship does not constitute compensation for work carried out or to be carried out on the disburser's behalf.
  • The principle is that a scholarship is always taxable if it is tied to the performance of some service in return.

Scholarships paid via Umeå University (internal) are limited to two years.

Scholarships paid by external funders might sometimes continue for a longer time period, make sure that the total time will not exceed the three year rule. If so, your scholarship might be come an object to taxation.

Payment routines

Make sure to get information about the payment routines for your specific scholarship. Ask your PI or HR support at the department.

  • For scholarships disbursed from Umeå University we are responsible for the disbursement process.
  • For scholarships disbursed directly from a foundation etc. the funding body to the scholarship holder they are responsible for the disbursement process. Some funding organisation will only disburse the scholarship to a Swedish bank account. More information about opening a bank account, see checklist
Jannike Hurenkamp