Doctoral students' Rights, Obligations and Expectations
Although the programme syllabus outlines the framework and content of the third-cycle programme, it is not clear how they interact with the rights, obligations and expectations associated with being a Lund University employee.
A government employment
A doctoral studentship is a government employment that provides a number of social benefits, including paid parental leave, paid annual leave and occupational pension from the government. Doctoral students are given access to a workspace, their own computer and other material needed to perform their work. Insurance during working hours, work-related travel and field work is included under the terms of a government employment.
The obligations are less explicitly stated. In addition to the general guidelines set out in the core values for Swedish public authorities, the principle of public access and the principle of lawful exercise of public authority, it is of great importance that the doctoral student can be reached during working hours. Supervisors and/or employers are to be informed of any travel, visits abroad and other absence, and always have access to updated contact information. If, for some reason, the doctoral student cannot be reached during a certain period, the supervisor and/or employer must be informed in advance. Requests for annual leave must be submitted and all earned days of annual leave should be taken during the semester, in accordance with the terms of the Swedish Annual Leave Act and Lund University’s guidelines. On completion of the doctoral studentship, all earned days of annual leave shall have been used.
Contribute actively to the collective environment
Furthermore, doctoral students are required to contribute actively to the collective environment at the department. The most obvious examples of this are attendance at and participation in the general research seminars and other joint research activities. In addition, doctoral students are expected to participate in other social activities at the workplace, take responsibility for the doctoral student council (as a chair and/or member), be represented in the department board, and take responsibility for more informal tasks such as participation in various preparatory bodies, the admissions process to third-cycle education, work environment management, and efforts to promote gender equality, equal opportunities and diversity.
If the doctoral student does not spend a sufficient amount of their working hours at the department, their workspace may be shared with/assigned to someone else. On completion of the doctoral studentship, the student is no longer guaranteed access to their workspace, computer or other resources.
The doctoral student’s teaching duties are somewhat of an exception, partly, because they are optional and, partly, because they are regulated by formal policy documents. However, different expectations within the organisation may cause tension, for example, between the requirements for responsibility in teaching and the requirements set within the context of the third-cycle programme. In other words, the doctoral student must be able to take on different roles throughout the course of their education – as a third-cycle student in the educational hierarchy that exists, and as a researcher and teaching colleague in more equal relationships.
The individual study plan a good tool
Apart from the general information of the kind referred to above, the individual study plan can be a good tool for identifying and thereby reducing tensions which may arise between rights and obligations, and between different expectations expressed by the department, supervisors and the individual doctoral student.