Norway universities’ temporary staff levels stifle quality and debate, researcher argues / News / The Foreigner

Norway universities’ temporary staff levels stifle quality and debate, researcher argues. More people in Norway are taking higher education but there are still not adequate permanent job position possibilities, particularly within academia. The previous government aimed to decrease the extensive use of temporary employees in academia.  But numbers from the Database for Statistics on Higher Education (DBH) show the government did not succeed in doing so, reported Dagsavisen, Monday.

norwayeducation, norwayuniversities, norwaycolleges



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Norway universities’ temporary staff levels stifle quality and debate, researcher argues

Published on Monday, 2nd December, 2013 at 20:48 under the news category, by Linn Schjerven and Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 2nd December 2013 at 22:28.

More people in Norway are taking higher education but there are still not adequate permanent job position possibilities, particularly within academia.

Education and Research Minister Isaksen
Minister Thorbjørn Røe Isaksen will be scrutinising Norway educational institutions' high use of temporary academic positionsEducation and Research Minister Isaksen
Photo: Thomas Haugersveen/Office of the PM


The previous government aimed to decrease the extensive use of temporary employees in academia. 

But numbers from the Database for Statistics on Higher Education (DBH) show the government did not succeed in doing so, reported Dagsavisen, Monday.

Jan Magne Gjerde holds a post doctorate in archeology. He has been active in the work environment for 15 years, but has never had a permanent job.

“I hope that I will get a permanent position by the time I turn 45,” Mr. Gjerde told the paper in an interview.

He has currently found himself a temporary research position up to 2016, for which he feels lucky.

At the same time, the father-of-three commutes between northern Norway’s Tromsø and Oslo bi-weekly.

He also comments that temporary positions are subject to inequality, and non-permanent staff is not able to integrate into the social working environment in the same way as regular employees do.

“We don’t get the same pension rights, and getting a mortgage with a short-term contract is almost impossible,” he added.

One in five teachers and researchers at Norwegian universities are still employed on a temporary basis.

Norwegian Association of Researchers (NAR) leader Petter Aalestad is concerned about the continued degree of temporary personnel at universities and colleges.

This is set against a backdrop of these institutions having been instructed to tighten the practice and an increasing number of students applying. Staff retirement age is also high.

“Temporary positions are a threat to the quality of teaching and research. New labor will eventually be needed and you have to offer them permanent positions if you want to recruit the best,” he explained.  

Moreover, widespread use of temporary employees can mean “there are many [academic personnel] who lack the courage to contribute with controversial academic statements for fear of destroying their future chances of a permanent position”, Mr. Aalestad believes.

“In practice, therefore, there’s no freedom of speech, and it degrades the quality of academia.”

Deputy Minister of Education and Research Bjørn Haugstad said to Dagsavisen on behalf of newly-appointed Conservative (H) Minister Thorbjørn Røe Isaksen that they will build on work the previous government started.

Officials will closely follow-up institutions that have failed to reduce their temporary employment levels. These include the University of Tromsø (UiT), University of Bergen (UiB), and Norwegian School of Veterinary Science.

“Universities and colleges are being asked to prepare an action plan within the year,” the Deputy Minister concluded.

Earlier this year, it was also highlighted that bright minds are often bypassed in favour of personality traits at Norwegian universities amongst low rankings regarding various countries' educational institutions.

“Those who are clever, controversial and on the rise could pose a threat to those who hold the power. Therefore, it may be important to keep them down,” Oslo University (UiO) professor Kristian Gundersen told Dagens Næringsliv at the time.    



Published on Monday, 2nd December, 2013 at 20:48 under the news category, by Linn Schjerven and Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 2nd December 2013 at 22:28.

This post has the following tags: norwayeducation, norwayuniversities, norwaycolleges.





  
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