Inquiry into recruitment processes reveals many short-term appointments
Uppsala University has conducted an inquiry into recruitment processes that reveals that 79% of announced researcher and teacher positions during 2017 were fixed-term positions.
The purpose of Uppsala University’s inquiry was to investigate how the university’s recruitment processes function, as well as to identify underlying explanations for the observed patterns. The database used is comprised of 657 researcher and teacher positions announced during 2017. This material was supplemented with interviews with representatives of seven university departments.
One contributory factor behind the decision to conduct the inquiry was the Swedish Association of University Teachers and Researchers’ (SULF) report "Ett spel för galleriet? Om anställningsprocesserna i akademin". On recruitment processes in the academic world), published in spring 2018. The report, which looked into recruitment processes at three Swedish faculties including the Faculty of Medicine at Uppsala University, revealed a high proportion of fixed-term appointments, tight application deadlines, small numbers of applicants and a high level of internal appointments. In SULF’s opinion, there were indications that recruitment processes were not conducted in a correct manner.
Is SULF’s report consistent with what you have seen at our university?
“The results are not entirely comparable with SULF’s report, given that neither the population nor the period of time are the same. We have of course included all of the faculties at the university and also considered a number of other factors, such as various technicalities that affect application deadlines, registration errors, etc., which SULF’s report has not done. Although our results appear better, the pattern remains the same in some areas,” says Louise Kennerberg, who conducted the Uppsala University inquiry together with Maria Lind.
What is better here?
“The percentage of fixed-term appointments announced is roughly the same as in the SULF report; however, we generally see fewer announcements with tight call deadlines, with few applicants, that are hurriedly filled and with the appointment of internal applicants.”
The Uppsala University inquiry shows that 516 (79%) of all announcements during 2017 were for fixed-term appointments, although in certain groups the percentage was higher: 81% for senior lecturers in the humanities and social sciences; and 80% for all announced research positions. It is also likely that many permanent research appointments were linked to project funding, meaning that the researchers risk having their employment terminated at the end of the project.
The results contained in SULF’s report also showed tight call deadlines, few applicants, many appointments made before the application deadline or within a very short period of time thereafter and a high percentage of internal appointments. This is also reflected at Uppsala University with regard to fixed-term appointments of lecturers and senior lecturers, as well as in the employment of researchers.
When it comes to the permanent appointment of lecturers, senior lecturers and career-development positions and the appointment of professors, however, there were no instances of tight call deadlines or hurried appointments. It was more common to find few applicants and internal appointments.
In contrast to the above, there were generally many applicants for post-doctoral positions: of 148 recruitments, 118 had five or more applicants.