Don’t forget the budding young researchers!

Don’t forget the budding young researchers!

We hope that there is still room for young researchers, from different countries, even after Ola Borten Moe announced the drastic renewal of the university and college sector.

In Forskerforum No. 4 in April this year, we can read about the Portuguese José Cerca, a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Evolutionary and Ecological Structure (CEES) at UiO who enjoys doing research in Norway. The report was about international recruitment and whether Norwegian universities and research benefit from the education of an increasingly large pool of foreign scholars.

Various issues, both capacity building and retention, costs, priorities and working conditions have been raised in academia and beyond. A familiar topic, and everything, as you know, is connected to everything. Therefore, we at the Academy of Young Researchers (AYF) and the Scholarship Organizations of Norway (SiN) hope that Ola Borten Moe and the government will not forget the value and potential of young international researchers. to Norway in hasty extreme renewals of the sector.


When renovating, it helps to not only consider the details you don’t like about the home, but also what it will look like and use next. For AYF and SiN, there are two questions we think Borten Moe and the government must answer as they now embark on a severe renewal: when (Norwegian) students choose a career path, what research can offer them; And for those (international) who want to become budding researchers, why research Norway?

Employment and career research

We never get tired of quoting the Minister “We run out of people before we run out of money,” which is why employment in the research profession continues to be important. Especially when polling Forskerforbundet “I like being a researcher, but…” From last year it showed that one in three permanent academic staff is considering leaving academia and only one in five postdocs would recommend others to become researchers. The NIFU report found the same thing A ‘variable research role’ from 2021 Many of the benefits and incentives of the past have vanished. If the researchers themselves can’t recommend others to become so, who will?

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Language requirements or language proficiency?

Norwegian proficiency is a constantly recurring theme when it comes to international recruitment, most recently in the government’s proposal for a new higher education law and in the Action Plan for the Norwegian professional language in academia. But this is a more complex topic than the discussion unfortunately demonstrates. On the one hand, Norwegian proficiency opens up significant teaching experience, participation in institutions, and integration into Norwegian society off-campus, while on the other hand, it is very time-consuming and not necessarily relevant to an academic career, neither here in Norway nor internationally.

Like SiN I have indicated earlier Most Norwegian universities place two conflicting requirements on young international researchers: you must learn Norwegian, but if you don’t spend the same amount of time researching, you will be left in the struggle for survival-permanent positions.

Therefore, we do not support the government’s requirement for at least 15 credits in Norwegian during doctoral education, but we believe that institutions should offer Norwegian training and make arrangements for this also for temporary staff. This is important for a possible further career in Norway and so that we can retain more of the competency that is being built. We can use the Norwegian education as an opportunity to include or not. As the government itself points out in an article about Cerca, Norwegian society spends a lot of money on research training, so we must work to ensure that those who come here feel at home enough to want to stay.

Vocational guidance and sector mobility

In addition to the Norwegian competency, (international) fellows should also receive better career orientation, so that they become familiar with the possibilities that exist after moving to a new post-doctoral position in a new country. The Swedish Research Society’s leader, Guru E. Lind recently expressed the need for quality career guidance for young researchers, and we share her expectations on the Department of Education’s researcher recruitment and career development strategy, including HK-dir’s ongoing work with the Career Guidance Framework for Research Fellows.

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Experiences from the UiO Centers of Research Excellence show, among others, that good career guidance should be an integral part of research project and/or training, and we also believe that closer and more prescriptive follow-up will provide a better and more consistent understanding of what each researcher needs – also when It’s about language skills.

Predictable career paths

Finally and perhaps most important of all are safe and predictable working conditions. Here, the government has informed and taken measures, including that postdoctoral positions must last at least three years. This is a good start, but to be a hiring position it is intended to be, it must last four years and have clear guidelines to facilitate qualification for a permanent position.

The diversity stats in Statistics Norway specifically show that international researchers dominate employment positions, But to a much lesser extent, he moved to permanent positions in Norwegian academic circles. Here, we believe that all of the above factors come into play and the sum of it all is that there are still thresholds for young international researchers which means we are not getting the experience we could have gained in Norway.

Search Norwegian is counting on employment on a large scale and also internationally in the future. Not only to keep the wheels turning, but also because different backgrounds and skills lead to richer fields of study and better research. The government is already taking measures to reduce temporary work and better career guidance, but it is important to remember that all measures work together and that in this regard we must keep an eye on the recruitment and continuous follow-up of young international researchers.

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Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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