It has now been decided that study grants for doctoral candidates will disappear from 1 July 2017. Consequently, from this date no doctoral students will receive study grants. Instead, the primary rule in the Higher Education Ordinance, i.e. that doctoral candidates are to be employed, will apply.
A transitional rule states that those who have received study grants before the end of June 2017 will continue according to the previous regulations, i.e. they may continue with their study grants. It is vital that we ensure that universities do not abuse this opportunity to consistently implement study grants before the end of June.
The termination of the study grant regulation will cause a number of consequential changes in the Higher Education Ordinance. Section 4 of Chapter 5 ceases to apply and all links to study grants will disappear from Chapters 5 and 7.
The Higher Education Ordinance also provides a transitional provision, namely that for doctoral candidates who have study grants and who cease to use them no later than 30 June 2022, the earlier provisions apply.
A consequential change has also been made in the Discrimination Act, in which the term study grant has been removed from Chapter 4, Section 18. Otherwise, there are no changes to the Discrimination Act.
Most universities have already phased out study grants, but for those who still have them, the following information still applies:
Study grants fund studies only and do not take the form of employment. Consequently, universities do not pay some of the social insurance contributions which guarantee the right to sick pay or parental leave. However recipients of study grants do pay income tax.
Study grants are governed by specific regulations, (the Ordinance on Study Grants for Doctoral Candidates), and may be awarded to candidates who have already been admitted, or are about to be admitted, to doctoral studies at a public sector university/university college or Stockholm School of Economics. Selection will made according to capacity to successfully complete doctoral studies. Any candidates who have previously received study grants have priority for available funding.
The size of study grants is determine by Government and is, since 1 January 2009, set at SEK 15 500 per month of full-time study. For part-time studies, study grants may be awarded at a minimum of 50 percent of full grant.
Study grants may be awarded for no more than twelve months at a time (one grant year). Study grants may be awarded for a maximum of three grant years. However they may not be awarded for longer than the period that corresponds to a full grant for two grant years and five months. From this period, deduction should be made for the study period when the doctoral candidate had no study grant.
However if there are special circumstances, study grants may be awarded for longer. Such special circumstances may include sick leave, parental leave, military service or elected positions in unions/student organisations.
At least three years as an employed doctoral candidate
There are other limitations on the use of study grants. When studying for a PhD, study grants may not be provided for the entire course of four years – at least three years must be funded by doctoral candidate employment.
Anyone who has undertaken doctoral studies with funding other than study grants cannot be awarded a study grant if a maximum of three years remains. Instead such an individual must be offered employment.
Priority for employment as doctoral candidate
Anyone who has received a study grant as a doctoral candidate may apply for employment as a doctoral candidate – no later than when three years of study before graduation according to their individual study plan.
Illness and parental leave
Since study grants are not employment, they do not form income on which sick pay can be based, which plays a major role if candidates become ill, take parental leave etc. However, doctoral candidates with study grants are entitled to retain the grant through periods of illness, parental leave etc. They are also entitled to retain the study grant if they are elected to positions within the union or student organisations. The grant will be extended for the equivalent period at the expense of the university/department.
For doctoral candidates who have been employed prior to admission, it may sometimes be more favourable to instead utilise what is known as protected sick pay based on the previous employment period. However, if candidates become ill they must waive the whole or part of their study grants in order to take out their sick pay. In cases where candidates have study grants combined with an assistant position, it is normally possible to obtain sick pay or parental benefit based on the assistant part, while retaining the entire study grant.
Study grants do form pension-bearing income for the general pension, however as there is no employment, candidates are not covered by the (PA-03) pension agreement and no occupational pension is earned.
No employment, no departmental duties
A prerequisite for universities to determine your work is that you are employed. Doctoral candidates who are not employed may not be required to work for their departments.
Occupational group life insurance
It is important to be insured while at the workplace. Doctoral candidates with study grants are covered by a special group life insurance policy entitled ”Statens Tjänstegrupplivförsäkring för AMU/AMI-elever m fl., Värnpliktiga m fl., doktorander”. (Approximately “State Group Life Insurance for AMU/AMI students and others, military service personnel and others, doctoral candidates”.)
This insurance is valid from the first day of receipt of study grant and provides full coverage.