Being a postdoc at KI

Income

Postdocs at KI receive either a salary or a scholarship ('stipend'), which differ specifically in the benefits and social securities connected to them.

KI stipend (scholarship)

The major difference compared with a salary is that a KI stipend holder does not pay taxes in Sweden. However, this means that not all the benefits included with a salary are provided to stipend holders.

As of June 2016 new regulations have been introduced making the current recommendation for a stipend at KI between 22 600 and 30 000 SEK per month. A higher scholarship is possible in exceptional cases, but proper documentation should be provided. Thanks to this new regulation, the income of KI postdoctoral scientists on a scholarship is at the minimum limit equal to the maximum income for PhD students after taxes (22 600 SEK/month).
This is comparable to the wages of postdocs throughout Sweden here.

Whilst it is true that stipends are tax-free and offer similar levels of income, stipends holders are not entitled to:

  • Unemployment benefit (known as ’A-kassa’)
  • Sick leave
  • Full parental leave (more on Pregnancy for Postdocs here)
  • Student benefits
  • Holiday allowance
  • Working hours limit
  • Student supervision responsibilities

Salary

For postdocs receiving a salary there is no fixed minimum, but the average income is around 33 000 SEK/month before taxes and 23 100 SEK/month after taxes (updated: June 2016).

Administrative Information

KIPA would like to make clear that there is no guarantee that your supervisor or the KI Department Officers will provide you with the most thorough and updated information. Regulations are regularly updated and programs can change, therefore it is wise to check the original sources.

Below is a useful list of links you may wish to consult:

  • KI HR Office webpage (information about your employment, including code of conduct, leave of absence, termination).
  • KI Postdoc Portal (information about rules regarding postdoctoral training).
  • KI Staff Portal (information about rights, obligations and opportunities for employees as well as information on academic unions).
  • KI International Staff Office (information about your stay in Sweden and at KI).
  • KI Career Service (information about advance training offered at KI to students and researchers, including postdocs).

While stipends are tax-free, stipends holders are not entitled to:

  • Unemployment benefit
  • Sick leave
  • Full parental leave
  • Student benefits
  • Holiday allowance
  • Working hours limit
  • Student supervision responsibilities

Please note that some information might be accessible only when navigating from within the KI intraweb. For these cases, please ask access through:

  • Your PI
  • Your (future) colleagues
  • KIPA

Academic Career at KI

In Sweden, a postdoctoral researcher can be appointed in three different ways:

  • A stipend/scholarship for a maximum of 2 years, if you are an expat or do not hold a Swedish PhD degree.
  • An external scholarship (your own funding).
  • Employed under the Kollektivavtal agreement for maximum 2 years. This type of contract can be signed up to three years after PhD graduation at the latest.
  • Employment with the LAS/ALVA (temporary) contract for a maximum of 2 years. This type of contract does not have a post-PhD time limit to be signed. However, keep in mind that accordingly to Swedish Law, a researcher can be appointed as a postdoc until 6 years after PhD graduation at the latest.

In summary, you can be a postdoctoral researcher in Sweden for a total of maximum 6 years after graduation.

Academic career system in Sweden

The Swedish Government announced an addition to the Högskoleförordningen or Swedish Higher Education Ordinance, SFS 2017:844. Among other changes, the eligibility criteria for application to Biträndande Lektor (Assistant Professor) is now five years after PhD degree conferral and/or graduation. You can check with HR regarding the exact date from which your degree will be counted for any Assistant Professor applications.

How does this affect the postdoc appointment?

A researcher can work as a postdoc at KI (as an employee or scholarship holder) even five years after PhD graduation. However, these researchers (and especially those who will join KI in the future) will have to be made aware that they will not be eligible for the tenured Assistant Professorships in Sweden.

Junior faculty at KI prepared a document to summarize this information (Biträdande Lektor summary).

KIPA is opposed to this change in eligibility criteria. Read more on this on our KIPA Advocacy page, see Biträdande Lektor.

Living in Sweden

Finding accommodation in Stockholm is challenging and you should start looking for something as soon as you can.

The KI international office provides more information on all matters related to moving to Sweden, including accomodation.

Travel and KI travel insurance

Postdocs should be reimbursed for work-related travel, whether they are working on a stipend or a salary. For more information, see the KI travel regulations.

The document also describes travel insurance and we advice you to read this carefully. The document describes that ''For business travel to other countries, a personal insurance card, issued by the relevant department, shall be carried.'' Make sure to pick up such a card from your department.

For PIs

The KI Postdoc Association is working to improve the postdoc support and career development at KI. With your help, we can achieve a better research environment for all postdocs which will create a better atmosphere in your lab, and improve the overall research quality and output.

Contract duration

Postdocs receiving KI internal stipends now receive contracts for 12 months. These longer contracts should make it easier for postdocs to apply for a personal number (''personnummer''), a necessity to live in Sweden. To obtain a personal number, the intended stay must be at least one year. Without a personal number it is almost impossible to obtain housing contracts, bank accounts, and essential utilities. Moreover, a personal number is crucial to get reduced fees for primary health care (for more information on the personnummer and health insurance, click here).

In cases where the 12-month contract is not enough to obtain a personal number, please provide your new postdoc with a '‘letter of admission'’ that states that the intended duration of the stay is two years, despite the 12-month contract duration.

Education

KI’s rules and regulations state that stipends are for educational purposes only and therefore each postdoc is required to have an educational plan for the 2 years they are expected to stay. Although KI courses are free of charge for KI postdocs, not all course coordinators are fully aware of this agreement with the Board of Research.

Please forward the information regarding courses to your postdocs.

Please set up and sign an educational plan together with your postdoc; there is no template for this, but an individual plan of the methods that are to be studied in conjunction with postdoc scholarships’ is supposed to come with the scholarship contract.

Lack of social security

Income from stipends is not taxed in Sweden. Stipend holders are not entitles to unemployment benefit or pension rights, access to sick leave or full parental leave, and other basic rights afforded to workers and residents of Sweden (e.g. annual leave). Therefore, the postdoc has to ensure they are able to cover any of these eventualities, which may be difficult on a low income (see above). Fewer 'stipend' postdocs have children than those on salaries (20.7% vs 42.4% among non-Swedish postdocs).

At the very least, please give your postdoc official permission to take the same number of holidays as his/her salaried colleagues (28 days if < 30 years of age; 31 days if > 30 years).

Försäkringskassan

Försäkringskassan offers reduced fees for medical and dental treatment for all Swedish residents regardless of employment status and provides a basic level of parental leave. Furthermore, the agency gives out European Health Insurance Cards to medically insure you when traveling in Europe. Postdocs are entitled to entry into Försäkringskassan because they reside in Sweden. However, they are often incorrectly rejected due to the fact that they are not employed.

Please strongly encourage your postdocs to join Försäkringskassan (and help in the appeal process against rejections should they occur).