• Sweden edition
 
JobTalk Sweden
Foreign PhD students tell KTH: Pay promised cash
The inner courtyard at the KTH campus. File photo: KTH/Flickr

Foreign PhD students tell KTH: Pay promised cash

Published: 24 Feb 2014 07:24 GMT+01:00
Updated: 24 Feb 2014 07:24 GMT+01:00

The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) will look into potential employment solutions for PhD students on scholarships, many of them foreigners, after a trade union slammed the lauded college for not keeping its promises.

Roughly 250 of the institute's 1,600 PhD students survive on scholarships that can range from €800 to €1,500. In 2009, KTH's management decided to supplement their incomes, using as a watermark the scholarship amount granted by the Swedish Institute (SI), the body tasked with promoting Sweden and Swedish culture abroad. It meant that PhD students were guaranteed 12,000 kronor ($1,840) a month.

That level was amended to 15,000 kronor last summer., with manystudents assuming that KTh would follow SI's suit. The PhD students in question were told that KTH would make an announcement on the increase once the autumn term began, recalls PhD student Himanshu Kataria, who despite now being employed and no longer on a scholarship has lobbied hard to resolve the impasse.

"The discussion began, but nobody could decide," he tells The Local. "The departments said, 'We don't have money', then KTH itself said, 'We don't have the money'."

The months passed and most of the students' monthly income remained unchanged. Some got a few months of increased pay, which were then withdrawn.

"Three thousand kronor might look minuscule, but it's an increase of 25 percent and can fulfill a great deal of the daily requirements for a PhD student," said Kataria. "Most of them are in their thirties, and many have families."

Because KTH had pledged to follow the SI scholarship level - using it as a benchmark - many students took for granted that they would have a bit more to live on, the academics' union Saco noted in a furious article addressed to the head of KTH last week.

"In addition to this odd arbitrary behaviour from KTH, many individuals are affected financially as they expected the income increase and adjusted their expenses accordingly," union representatives wrote.

Many of the students receive grants from their home country or international organizations, which means their base income can fluctuate according to currency exchange rates. Kataria, having himself seen the Indian rupee tumble while the Swedish krona remained strong, underscored that PhD students could end up with less money per month at the end of their research than they had to begin with four years before. 

As the issue dragged on, the academics union Saco accused KTH of answering repeated questions with silence. It also noted that the non-scholarship PhD students earned between 26,400 and 31,400 kronor a month, which, among others things, meant there were contributions made to pensions and social security. That in turn gave them, but not the scholarship students, access to parental leave, sick leave, and salary insurance, for example.

"When you feel you are being treated differently, it leaves you in a pinch," Kataria said. "We're working the same but (our colleague) is getting double what I get paid."

On Wednesday, the institute's principal replied to the criticism in writing.

"There is very limited scope to raise a PhD scholarship retroactively," wrote Peter Gudmundson, who declined to comment further on the matter when contacted by The Local. "KTH is now investigating if it's possible to supplement the scholarship with part-time employment."

Such a move could, however, be mired in legal difficulties, he added.

"We have to find a solution that does not put the students at risk of retroactively owing tax on their scholarships," Gudmundson noted.  

Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden
Michael Boatwright (R) and Medieval knight re-enactors.

Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden

The "motel mystery" American who baffled US authorities by only speaking Swedish when he woke up from a coma last year has passed away, Swedish media reported on Wednesday. READ () »

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king
Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king

UPDATED: Scientists pried open the 850-year-old casket of King Erik the Holy on Wednesday, hoping to find out more about the king, his crown, and his eating habits. READ () »

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop
TeliaSonera CEO Johan Dennelind. File photo: TT

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop

Stockholm-listed telecom operator TeliaSonera on Wednesday said profits had fallen in the first quarter, but hoped offering customers more data solutions in the future would turn things around. READ () »

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'
Fredrik Reinfeldt. File photo: TT

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Wednesday urged young voters to head to the European parliamentary polls on May 25th "to cure the European disease of nationalism". READ () »

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg at the first quarter press conference. Photo: TT

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales

Swedish telecom giant Ericsson on Wednesday announced a drop in sales but posted a sharp rise in first-quarter profit, which nonetheless fell shy of analyst predictions. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping brawl
Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals

Swedish police fear that several people involved in a brawl in eastern Sweden on Monday night may be seeking revenge after two brothers were shot dead. READ () »

Sponsored Article
Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden
The town of Västervik.

Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden

Ask a Swede, and they are likely to say that their favourite holiday spot is in the southeast of Sweden. Eastern Småland and Öland offer a smörgåsbord of all the things dearest to the Swedes - from the beloved children's book author Astrid Lindgren to deep forests, long sandy beaches, perfect spots for that all-important 'fika', and a surprising amount of space, peace and quiet. READ () »

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth
Swedes enjoy hot dogs and cherry blossoms in Stockholm's Kungsträdgården. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth

The sun is set to stick around and temperatures could climb into the twenties over the weekend, Swedish meteorologists said on Wednesday READ () »

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

A 21-year-old man confessed on Wednesday to sex crimes against eight children at a day care where he was working as an intern. READ () »

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles
An unrelated bodybuilder. File photo: Ann Törnkvist

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles

Police in Sweden's south who hauled a muscular man in for steroid testing have had their knuckles rapped, after it was ruled that big biceps cannot be grounds for narcotics suspicions. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
TT
Gallery
Inside the 850-year-old king's coffin
Features
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Gallery
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Features
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
National
University applications rocket to record high
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 18-20
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Advertisement:
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

712
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com