Universities only agree to hire 1400 PhDs if they have external financial support

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The Council of Rectors of Portuguese Universities (CRUP) has once again rejected the financial burden of hiring 1,400 doctoral graduates under a new program without adequate public funding.

The position was expressed in an opinion sent to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education regarding the change in the conditions of the FCT-Tenur program, announced last week by Minister Elvira Fortunato.

The program foresees the hiring of 1,400 doctoral graduates in two competitions, the first with 1,000 vacancies, to be held later this year and the second, with 400 vacancies, to be held in 2025.

The aim is to promote the hiring of doctoral graduates with a view to their integration into teaching or scientific research careers and, in the first few years, salaries will be co-financed by the Foundation for Science and Technology and then fully borne by the institutions.

In the opinion sent today to the tutelage, to which Lusa had access, CRUP refuses this financial burden and stresses that, although universities want to keep researchers, “they need to have the appropriate means”.

“The funding that supports the activity of researchers supported by FCT should be transferred and regularly integrated into the budget of universities, research units and scientific institutions, within the framework of program contracts to be concluded between the Government and the institutions,” the opinion states.

Nesse caso, as instituições comprometer-se-iam a aplicar as verbas no reforço do emprego científico e da atividade científica, «assegurando o acesso futuro às carreiras docente e de investigação por parte das gerações mais jovens».

It also proposes, as an alternative to promote the articulation between research and higher education, the allocation of a percentage of the public allocation for the promotion of scientific employment, the financing of doctoral students and the conclusion of contracts for the development of the research mission in higher education institutions.

“The problem of precariousness can only be solved with funding”, reiterate the rectors, who argue that “it is not possible for universities to respond to a fixed expense with non-existent or unpredictable revenue”.

Pointing out that, in recent years, higher education and the scientific system have lost financial resources, they also state that this disinvestment, combined with a “competitive, uncertain and indeterminate” financing model, has created a “situation that does not allow institutions to assume responsibility and commitments for an indefinite period”.

“If the FCT considers that it cannot commit its budget to hiring researchers for an indefinite period, despite having funds for this in its budget, scientific institutions have the same reasons, with the difference that they do not have funds for this purpose”, underlines CRUP.

The council chaired by the rector of the University of Porto, António de Sousa Pereira, also expresses its opposition to the financing of the hiring of teachers by the FCT, considering that “it is the main funding agency for science, and it does not have competence in the financing of education”.

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