• Sweden's news in English
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

Ann Törnkvist · 24 Feb 2014, 07:24

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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 Some got a few months of increased pay, which were then withdrawn.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

Story continues below…

"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)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Here's how slow Sweden's high-speed trains are getting
A Swedish SJX2000 high speed train. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The high-speed rail journey between the three biggest Swedish cities is about to get longer.

The Local List
12 Swedish words with just awesome literal translations
A filthy-minded lobster, i.e. a snuskhummer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix/TT

One of our favourite things about the Swedish language is its wonderful compound words, which range from being utterly bizarre to making perfect sense.

US election
Donald Trump won't get new Ericsson head's vote
Trump pictured at a campaign rally in Florida. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

The new Swedish-American boss of telecoms giant Ericsson has revealed he will not vote for the Republican nominee in the forthcoming US presidential election.

Swedes named fourth most gender equal in the world
A file photo of men and women pushing prams in Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Sweden has closed 81 percent of its overall gender gap according to the World Economic Forum.

Sweden: Russian warships in the Baltic 'worrying'
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Two Russian warships equipped with long-range missiles have entered the Baltic Sea after passing Denmark.

Why businesses are worried about Sweden's drone ban
A drone filming in Stockholm. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

The Local investigates what Sweden's new drone ban could mean for businesses in the country.

This is the new top boss of Swedish Ericsson
Börje Ekholm. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/TT

Telecoms giant Ericsson has appointed a new CEO after a turbulent year for the company.

These are Sweden's best universities: ranking
A new university ranking has been released. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/Imagebank.sweden.se

At least according to this global ranking, which picks 12 Swedish universities among the top-1000.

Swedish pharmacies restrict paracetamol sales for teens
The move is intended to cut paracetamol overdoses. Photo: Nora Lorek/TT

Sweden's pharmacies are banning teens under 18 from buying more than one pack of pills at a time.

Rwandan genocide suspect held in Sweden
A memorial centre in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo: Ben Curtis/AP

A man has been arrested in Sweden suspected of involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide which claimed 800,000 lives.

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available