actionuni der Schweizer Mittelbau / actionuni le corps intermédiaire académique suisse / actionuni il collegio intermediario academico svizzero represents young researchers as well as the associations of non-professorial academic staff of the Swiss cantonal universities, the Federal Institutes of Technology, the Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences, and the Swiss Universities of Teacher Education on the Swiss national as well as the international level. actionuni’s objectives are to improve the academic career tracks and to coordinate the activities of the Swiss associations of non-professorial academic staff.
Salome Adam, co-president of actionuni, participated in a discussion with Prof. Aguzzi from University of Zurich on the misuse of power and mobbing at universities. Some real cases are reported but also ways are discussed of how pressure in research can be mitigated without compromising scientific quality.
Today, actionuni der Schweizer Mittelbau publishes its position paper (pdf German / pdf French / pdf English) on the promotion of young researchers at Swiss higher education institutions. The position paper was drawn up jointly with all members and unanimously adopted at the last delegates’ meeting.
Florian Lippke, former Co-President of actionuni and member of the Swiss Accreditation Council, commented: “We are aware that every university faces different challenges and that some are already considering approaches to improve the conditions for young scientists in their institutions. However, we know that there are fundamental problems in the Swiss higher education area for non-professorial academic staff, which we must tackle together.”
Our positions in a nutshell:
Career diversification at all types of universities and alternative careers are needed to give young researchers multiple perspectives for their future.
Professional human resources management will support the separation of administrative from scientific responsibilities.
Double profile research/practice is seen to be of value for all types of universities, not only Universities of Applied Sciences.
Transparency and career advice are needed to guide young researchers early on through the jungle of academic and non-academic careers.
Strengthening of flat hierarchies and inclusive work models will enable us to share scientific responsibilities among all members of the team, from graduate students to professors and chair-holders.
Minimal research time and fair employment conditions reflect that research is work and must be paid.
Compatibility of scientific careers with family and other obligations should be self-evident as universities are role models for other employers and society as a whole.
Participation rights are guaranteed by law and must be supported adequately
Last week, an interesting symposium on the topic of supervising doctoral students was held by ETH in Zurich.
It was discussed, how better training for supervisors can improve quality of supervision, how a contract between the PhD-student and the supervisor can help clarify expectations, how PhD-committees help balance power, which platforms can help strengthen peer-feedback among supervisors and establish a commonly agreed on “code of conduct” for supervisors.
Three big European organisations for early-career and senior researchers have jointly issued a response to ‘Plan S’ on Open Access. Reassuring their support, they offer concrete recommendations on the proposed guidance for achieving Open Access via Plan S to ensure its realistic implementation from the perspective of European researchers.
The Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (SAGW) has published a report on the precarious situation of the non-professorial academic staff. Focus is being laid on post-docs in social sciences.
Unfortunately, the report is in German – however, the management summary is available in German and French.
Hildbrand, Thomas (2018): Next Generation: Für eine wirksame Nachwuchsförderung (Swiss Academies Reports 13, 1). Full text at Zenodo
Starting 1 February 2019, the SNF launches its new program SPIRIT: “The SPIRIT programme facilitates knowledge exchange between Swiss researchers and researchers in selected countries that are receiving development assistance. With SPIRIT, the SNSF is giving Swiss researchers more opportunities to collaborate with partners in many countries around the world.”
International consortia can request between 50,000 and 500,000 francs in project funds for two to four years. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but selection will be highly competetive as the SNF plans to fund only 12 projects per year.
Last November, actionuni representatives had their annual exchange meeting with SNF representatives. At the meeting, questions from actionuni members to the SNF are discussed and actionuni gives input to current development of the SNF.
This years main topics were:
Mobility as a selection criterion is obsolete: The SNF agrees that geographical mobility of young researchers as a criterion to judge a researchers’ professional network has become outdated, considering the way researchers are connecting nowadays through digital ways and means. The SNF this year aims to revise the requirements of its funding instruments accordingly.
Stronger promotion of Post-Docs: Influencing employment conditions of post-doctoral researchers towards more unlimited contracts or Tenure Track is not possible through SNF as these are within the universities’ own competencies.
Centralized evaluation strategy of SNF funding applications, starting 2021: By using centralized remote or panel-evaluation, the SNF aims to standardize the assessment and selection of candidates. Consequently, local selection committees (Forschungskommissionen) will be abrogated.