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Stipends for PhD students

This is a difficult situation. We just had a case with one Swedish PhD student who decided to quit after almost one year PhD studies. He explained that "this is not his topic and he is interested to do something else in his life". He is a smart guy with high grades, but our department spent already appr. 500 000 SEK (including social costs, overheads etc.) ... for nothing (?). No results were obtained, no papers were written, etc. We have to urgently find a replacement because his project is financed from a company. We have a dilema: one is not allowed to admit a Swedish student to PhD studies on a tax-free stipend. On the other hand, admiting a Swedish MSc student to PhD studies with full PhD salary (plus social costs and overheads) from the first year is a very risky business (see above). We cannot allowed the department economy to collaps because PhD students will suddenly change their minds and quit... What is a way out from this paradox? I think that Swedish Universities do need back "the old-before-1995-option" of stipends for Swedish PhD students during first 2 - 2.5 years till the Licentiate degree and the full PhD salary with all social coverage after the Licentiate degree during the last 2-2.5 years till their PhD degree. This should be legal and officially accepted by politicians as a possible solution for Universities. The number of PhD students has dropped by 50% during the years 1995-2005 as was already discussed many times by Tentakel. There are more senior researches than PhD students in many laboratories, which of course is not right. Personally I think that the main reason for that is the fact that a PhD student suddenly became "too expensive" for univeristies (a PhD student costs 750 000 SEK/year in our university), while an experienced post-doc receives a tax-free stipend from a private foundation of 200 000 SEK/year and a foreign PhD stipendiate will receive 150 000 SEK/year. One should't be a Professor in mathematics in order to understand why many Heads of Divisions try to avoid the first option and why they chose the last two. Of course this creates many conflicts similar to one discussed in the article, which I comment.

Prof. Oleg N. Antzutkin
Head of Division of Chemistry
Luleå University of Technology

Oleg Antzutkin
2007-03-26
17:23:18
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