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EDUCATION

Swedish academia hiring ‘rigged’: university union

Swedish universities are rigging their recruitment to make sure favoured internal candidates get jobs, according to Sweden's leading university union.

Swedish academia hiring 'rigged': university union
The union director accused universities of 'nepotism'. Photo: Tor Johnsson/SvD/TT
A report from the Swedish Association of University Teachers and Researchers (SULF) found that one in ten job adverts for lectures and researchers was published just a week before the deadline for applications, and half were published less than three weeks in advance. 
 
A full third of the adverts had just one applicant, three quarters had less than five, and three quarters of jobs went to an internal applicant. 
 
“It's shocking,” union director Git Claesson Pipping told The Local. “It's nepotism, and also, instead of employing people for longer times, they just employ people for six months at a time and keep giving new positions to the same people.” 
 
Pipping said the union had decided to analyze 268 job offers after receiving complaints from members who struggled to find open positions. 
 
“They said there were virtually no jobs to apply for, because all jobs have already been set aside for somebody else,” she said. 
 
The report found that universities discouraged outside applicants by posting adverts in hard-to-find sections of their websites, giving extremely short notice, and requiring extensive documentation. 
 
Universities also often decided on the winning candidate just days after the closing date, indicating that outside candidates had not received serious consideration.
 
“They're getting away with this because if you are unhappy with the decision, you have to make a formal complaint, and you don't want to complain because you want the next job to be yours,” she said. “You don't want to make a fuss and be a trouble maker.” 
 
The union has called on the government to instruct the Swedish Higher Education Authority to ensure that universities had “transparent and legally compliant recruitment processes”. 
 
The job offers analyzed were put out by three faculties: Lund University's Faculty of Engineering, Stockholm University's Faculty of Social Sciences, and Uppsala University's Faculty of Medicine. 
 
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EDUCATION

Inquiry calls for free after-school care for 6-9 year-olds in Sweden

Children between ages 6-9 years should be allowed admittance to after-school recreation centers free of charge, according to a report submitted to Sweden’s Minister of Education Lotta Edholm (L).

Inquiry calls for free after-school care for 6-9 year-olds in Sweden

“If this reform is implemented, after-school recreation centers will be accessible to the children who may have the greatest need for the activities,” said Kerstin Andersson, who was appointed to lead a government inquiry into expanding access to after-school recreation by the former Social Democrat government. 

More than half a million primary- and middle-school-aged children spend a large part of their school days and holidays in after-school centres.

But the right to after-school care is not freely available to all children. In most municipalities, it is conditional on the parent’s occupational status of working or studying. Thus, attendance varies and is significantly lower in areas where unemployment is high and family finances weak.

In this context, the previous government formally began to inquire into expanding rights to leisure. The report was recently handed over to Sweden’s education minister, Lotta Edholm, on Monday.

Andersson proposed that after-school activities should be made available free of charge to all children between the ages of six and nine in the same way that preschool has been for children between the ages of three and five. This would mean that children whose parents are unemployed, on parental leave or long-term sick leave will no longer be excluded. 

“The biggest benefit is that after-school recreation centres will be made available to all children,” Andersson said. “Today, participation is highest in areas with very good conditions, while it is lower in sparsely populated areas and in areas with socio-economic challenges.” 

Enforcing this proposal could cause a need for about 10,200 more places in after-school centre, would cost the state just over half a billion kronor a year, and would require more adults to work in after-school centres. 

Andersson recommends recruiting staff more broadly, and not insisting that so many staff are specialised after-school activities teachers, or fritidspedagod

“The Education Act states that qualified teachers are responsible for teaching, but that other staff may participate,” Andersson said. “This is sometimes interpreted as meaning that other staff may be used, but preferably not’. We propose that recognition be given to so-called ‘other staff’, and that they should be given a clear role in the work.”

She suggested that people who have studied in the “children’s teaching and recreational programmes” at gymnasium level,  people who have studied recreational training, and social educators might be used. 

“People trained to work with children can contribute with many different skills. Right now, it might be an uncertain work situation for many who work for a few months while the employer is looking for qualified teachers”, Andersson said. 

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