• 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

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 Some got a few months of increased pay, which were then withdrawn.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)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Politics
Nuclear freeze agreed by new government
A nuclear power station in Forsmark, Sweden. Photo: TT

Nuclear freeze agreed by new government

Sweden's Social Democrats and Greens Party have announced a coalition agreement to halt nuclear energy development. READ  

International
Sweden rethinks Afghan translators' asylum
A Swedish soldier in Afghanistan. Photo: TT

Sweden rethinks Afghan translators' asylum

The Migration Court in Malmö has ruled that Sweden's Migration Board was wrong to reject the residence applications of seven Afghan interpreters without assessing their protection needs. READ  

The Local List
Top five winter festivals in Sweden
Speak Percussion will perform at Connect in Malmö in November. Photo: Connect

Top five winter festivals in Sweden

Autumn has swept into the country and chilly days lie ahead. But there are plenty of winter festivals where you can warm up in the coming months. With tickets already selling fast, here are The Local's top tips. READ  

Business
Swedish Saab plant sheds a third of workers
Workers at the Saab plant in Trollhättan. Photo: TT

Swedish Saab plant sheds a third of workers

Swedish car maker Saab has announced it has axed 155 workers, close to a third of its workforce. READ  

International
Sweden's 'most dangerous art' on sale
A Danish site is selling the works that the Swedish state wants destroyed. Screenshot: www.entartetekunst.dk

Sweden's 'most dangerous art' on sale

Work by controversial jailed Swedish artist Dan Park is on sale online and could reach a gallery in Copenhagen, despite a previous exhibition being pulled. READ  

Society
Sweden is 'second best' place to grow old
Pensioners in Sweden. Photo: TT

Sweden is 'second best' place to grow old

Sweden has dropped to second place in an annual index measuring the quality of life of elderly people in 96 countries around the world. READ  

National
Top Swedish skier killed in Chile avalanche
Andreas Fransson, left. Photo: Markus Alatalo

Top Swedish skier killed in Chile avalanche

UPDATED: The bodies of two of the world's top skiers, Sweden's Andreas Fransson and JP Auclair from Canada, were found on Tuesday after they were reported missing in an avalanche in the Andes. READ  

Politics
Coalition promise to boost welfare and jobs
Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT

Coalition promise to boost welfare and jobs

UPDATED: The Social Democrats and the Greens have agreed to raise unemployment payments and promised to create more jobs in the construction industry, The Local has learned. READ  

National
Ikea recalls elk pasta
Two types of pasta are affected. Photo: IKEA

Ikea recalls elk pasta

Ikea has pulled two different types of elk-shaped pasta from its stores in Sweden. READ  

Presented by Regus
How to get your own great office in Stockholm
A woman using a Regus workspace. Photo: Regus

How to get your own great office in Stockholm

Stockholm's business climate is hotter than ever, which leaves start-ups and business travellers hunting high and low for flexible office space. The solution is easier than they think. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Apology for Swedish model's stolen photos
Politics
New coalition agrees on defence and migration
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Botkyrka
Education
New government to make school compulsory to 18
Politics
Sweden Democrat wins Deputy Speaker spot
Blog updates

28 September

Spoiled Doyle (Blogweiser) »

"What you gotta watch out for in Sweden is the good stuff. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Re_EzUe6xpI In Sweden, it’s the good things you have to watch out for. Video on @TheLocalSweden http://t.co/rAb8eGFdTD pic.twitter.com/w37YYwMXy1 — Joel Sherwood (@joeldsherwood) September 29, 2014 " READ »

 

26 September

 (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Autumn swept into Sweden at the start of this week with snow in the north of the country and flooding in the south. As well as a change in the weather, Sweden’s change in political direction became clearer, with Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven formally announcing his party would work with the Greens as..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Swedish scientists sneak Bob Dylan lyrics into articles
Lifestyle
The five best Swedish songs of the month
Gallery
People-watching: September 28th
National
When Italian style meets Swedish simplicity
Lifestyle
Review: Sweden's first alcohol-free nightclub
Gallery
In Pictures: The MS Estonia disaster
Lifestyle
Ten things expat women notice in Sweden
Politics
What's next on Sweden's political stage?
Gallery
Sweden's 2014 election: Most memorable moments
Society
What's on in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 24th
Seaman Oliver Gee with his first lobster
Lifestyle
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Gallery
In Pictures: Fredrik Reinfeldt through the years.
Society
Plucked out of Canada for love and guitars
Politics
How Sweden Democrats went mainstream
Politics
Scandinavia and Scotland: closer links?
Sponsored Article
How to start a business in Stockholm
Society
Why is Stockholm's Södermalm so cool?
Politics
Sweden elections: Who's who?
Sponsored Article
Introducing… Insurance in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

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 Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

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

866
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
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN