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Scholarship rules restrict competitiveness

The possibility of accepting international scholarships is vital if Swedish universities are to be competitive. Rules that are clear, understandable and logical ought to be self-evident. Squareness is a step towards stagnation and puts Swedish universities at a disadvantage.

We need to be able to offer international scholarships to study at KTH. The rules and regulations must be based on scholars being remunerated in line with a doctoral student post and that terms and conditions for researchers and teachers must be clear and logical.

Study scholarships were previously often associated with lower bursaries and less advantageous terms and conditions than doctoral student posts, for example. With such a starting point, the scope to use scholarships for doctoral students has gradually been tightened.

Today, in accordance with the Higher Education Ordinance, a doctoral student with a scholarship is to be offered a regular doctoral student post after one year.

Exceptions can be granted for scholarships from countries where agreements are with a scholarship organisation directly. In such cases, a supplementary bursary is required that must be financed by private external funds. As many researchers lack funds for a doctoral student post lasting at least three years, the student cannot be accepted. This does not help internationalisation and creates irritation among researchers.

Clearly, a doctoral student financed by a scholarship should have the same terms and conditions when it comes to salary, insurance and travel expenses, but regulations and rules must not be allowed to restrict opportunities to accept doctoral students that are in receipt of a scholarship from their home country.

Doctoral student posts should continue to be the first choice, but in the majority of countries with whom KTH cooperates, scholarships are the conventional way of financing doctoral studies. Generally speaking, there are well-established organisations that award scholarships to doctoral students, masters students and postdocs. These scholarships often also cover tuition fees that ought to be able to be used for supplementary bursaries as third cycle education is not subject to tuition fees.

A simple and logical regulatory framework would not only benefit Swedish research and KTH but also and not least, the students concerned.