Or the day when PhD students in
Sweden became less protected than berries-pickers
Sweden the main
law governing universities is the Higher Education Ordinance (HEO). In addition
each university has its own regulations, which are designed to describe in more
detail certain laws. Of course, local regulations must not contradict HEO.
There were numerous violations of the law and even crimes committed by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) during their pathetic attempts to hide forgery research that were (and are) going on at the university. However, it was not possible to bring all cases at once before the court; at least I didn't know the way to do it. So, the case I brought before the Uppsala District Court was the termination of my employment as a PhD student* and the use of me as a shadow work force before appointing as a PhD. I hoped that during litigation the Uppsala Court would use its authority to initiate investigations of other crimes committed by SLU.
Briefly: I have been accepted as a PhD student at SLU in January 2010. The period of PhD education in
is 4 years. Nevertheless, in the middle of the January 2012 I found out that it
was the last month when I was going to be paid. No notice, no explanations, not
even a single proof that I failed to “fulfil the requirements specified in the
individual study plan”. I described the situation in details in the previous
So, let us read what the Swedish law says about PhD employment:
HEO Chapter 5, Section 1: “Higher education institutions may establish specific post for third-cycle students to enable them to complete their third-cycle studies.”
HEO Chapter 5, Section 7: “Appointment to a doctoral studentship shall apply for an indefinite period, however for no longer than until a specified date and never for a period extending more than one year after the award of a PhD of a doctorate in the fine, applied and performing art. A person may be appointed to a doctoral studentship for a total of eight years. The total employment period may, however, not exceed the time corresponding to full-time third-cycle study for four years. The time spent studying by the third-cycle student while not appointed to a doctoral studentship shall be deducted from these periods.”
Chapter 6; Section 30; HEO: “If a doctoral student substantially neglects his or her undertakings in the individual study plan, the vice-chancellor shall decide that the doctoral student is no longer entitled to supervision and other study resources. Before such a decision is made, the doctoral student and the supervisors shall be given an opportunity to make representations. The case shall be considered on the basis of their reports and any other records available. The assessment shall take into account whether the higher education institution has fulfilled its own undertakings in the individual study plan. A written record of the decision shall be made, which is to include reasons for the decision. Resources may not be withdrawn for any period in which the third-cycle student has been appointed to a doctoral studentship or is receiving a doctoral grant.”
SLU local regulations are even stricter. According to the Guidelines for research education in the Faculty of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences: “The department is responsible for providing the financing necessary for the research education to be carried out. This applies also in event of the absence of the financing anticipated by the department at the time of the research student's admission. The financial responsibility applies as long as the research student fulfills the requirements specified in the individual study plan.”
Now the quote from the decision of the Uppsala District Court: “An obligation to have a doctoral student employed for four years cannot be inferred from the Higher Education Ordinance”
|The image was kindly provided by http://www.christart.com/clipart/image/tipped-scales|
The decision made by the Uppsala District Court is a precedent and it will have the most severe consequences for all PhD students, who work at the Swedish universities. Actually this decision invalidates HEO in total. Now all guaranties provided by HEO are annulled. The Uppsala District Court confirmed that university has rights to terminate PhD employment outside the procedure prescribed by the law, meaning that PhD can be cancelled at any time on a whim of a supervisor. No more investigations and long proceedings about whether or not “a doctoral student substantially neglects his or her undertakings in the individual study plan”. Now scientists who work for their PhD at the Swedish universities became even less protected then seasonal berries-pickers. PhD workers became absolutely rightless and fall into total dependence of their supervisors. This is slavery!
It was too much for the Uppsala District Court to convict SLU, because then all bad deeds of the university would come out: forgery, exploitation of foreign scientists, falsification of evidences, sexual harassment, and abuse of power. The Court did not want to spoil the image of the national university. The Court preferred to sacrifice the law and put on danger careers of young scientists.
Of course I appealed the decision of the Uppsala District Court and I am waiting whether or not the appeal will be granted.
* ”a PhD student” is a very deceiving term: it misrepresented a scientist who works for his PhD degree as some sort of a schoolboy, who spends most of his time attending lectures and doing homework. This perception of a PhD position is nothing but wrong! Scientists who do research to obtain their PhD degree are working horses. They together with post-docs are those who sweat in labs, are eaten by gnats on fieldwork, and go blind staring for hours at computer screens. They are the true workers of science! And the less protected ones…