Norwegian rectors warn that researchers go to private sector

19.05.2006
The rectors of the three largest Norwegian universities warn that the best researchers quit the universities for well-paid jobs in the private sector.
A new analysis from the Norwegian Institute for social research shows that the researchers employed in private companies on average earn 20 percent more than their colleagues with the same background working for the State. Now the university rectors fear that recruitment problems will affect the research and training at the universities:
"If Norway wants to become leading in international research, and reach the goal of 3 percent of GDP to research by 2010, the salary conditions need to improve vastly. Today we lose many of the greatest talents because the pay is not competitive," says rector of the University of Bergen, Sigmund Grønmo, to newspaper Dagsavisen. He thinks the academic freedom and large environments at the universities no longer can compensate for the lower salaries. "The differences have grown too big," he points out.

The most attractive researchers to the private sector are doctors, lawyers and dentists.
"In these areas there is an obvious danger that the quality of the research is weakened. The average age is high and the staff needs to be renewed in a few years," says rector of the University of Oslo Geir Ellingsrud.

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) is experiencing hard competition for the best researchers, and they see that high pay and good infrastructure is tempting more and more researchers over to the private sector:
"We cannot be leading in salaries but we lose the competition of the best candidates with the giant gap there is between us and the private sector today. In addition we have to offer a good research environment with laboratories and high quality support," he thinks.
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