PhD students on scholarships miss out on social security

A new report from The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education shows that Swedish doctoral students on scholarships lack basic social security. Scholarships do not count as income and do not grant any sick leave pay, pension or parental leave. "We said this a long time ago," replies the doctoral students‘ association.
Doctoral students on scholarships can also lose the right to sick leave pay that they have earned earlier through previous incomes. "The problem with scholarships is that they do not provide the doctoral student with any type of social security," says Marie Kahlroth, analyst at the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education.

Several Swedish universities have stopped financing their doctoral students through scholarships: "This may be a coincidental decrease for 2006, but it seems that the universities realise that scholarships are bad for the doctoral students," Kahlroth speculates.

According to the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education, the total cost for replacing the scholarships with employment will be SEK 28 million. This is not much compared to the total cost of doctoral student pay, but still more than double the cost of the universities.

The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education recommends replacing the scholarships with employment, but they understand the difficulties caused by the high costs. Therefore they think that a gradual development towards employment would be more realistic.