Government launches funding program to combat precariousness in science

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The government will launch in July a financing program so that higher education institutions can hire doctorate holders with precarious contracts for careers as researchers or teachers, revealed today the minister of tutelage.

This program, indicated to the Lusa agency the minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Elvira Fortunato, in Évora, is co-financed by European funds and will be launched by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).

“We are still negotiating, because it will be a program co-financed” by European funds and the number of PhD graduates that can be covered will be determined “depending on the co-financing,” he said.

Even so, admitted the minister, this program to “combat precariousness” in the area of science and higher education may cover “a number in the region of 1,000” PhD holders.

According to the minister, within the scope of the program, the government will sign a contract-program with the higher education institutions and it is the entities that, within the scope of their autonomy, “will define how many researchers and professors they want in their careers.

“We want to give institutions the freedom, as part of their scientific and pedagogical strategy, to admit part of the doctorate holders who are in precarious situations to a career position as a researcher or in the teaching field,” he emphasized.

Elvira Fortunato pointed out that this measure “is very much directed” at researchers hired under the transitional norm, but she emphasized that the precariousness in this area is not restricted to them.

“There are many other researchers who, even for matters of days or weeks, have not been able to have their grant converted into a contract, and we also have researchers who are contracted under the institutions’ European projects,” he stressed.

Considering that the program will help to reduce precariousness, the minister said that “FCT has to continue funding researchers who have just finished their doctorate and who also want to have a career in research and then leave”.

“All of this funding in science employment is, in essence, a platform. There are some that we want to keep, but there are others that can’t stay,” because otherwise “we can’t fund them all,” he added.

The governor was speaking to Lusa after speaking at the closing of the cycle of conferences “Paths of knowledge”, held in Evora, integrated in the celebrations of the National Scientists Day, which was marked today.

Also today, several hundred scientists gathered near the rectory of the University of Lisbon in a demonstration against job insecurity, alerting that science is not made with scholarships and fixed-term contracts.

Participants in the protest, which included a march to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, held up placards that read “For the defense of professional rights” or “PhD is work.

The demonstration, promoted by several organizations and union structures, took place on the National Scientists’ Day.

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