Swedish universities ‘nepotistic’, union report finds

Investigation discovers that three-quarters of advertised posts are filled by an internal candidate

May 9, 2018
Soldiers with flags at the courtyard of the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden
Source: iStock

A Swedish academics’ union has accused universities of “nepotism” after an investigation found that three-quarters of job offers went to internal applicants.

The Swedish Association of University Teachers and Researchers found that half of job offers were advertised less than three weeks ahead of the deadline, while one in 10 was published with only a week to spare, reports The Local Sweden.

Git Claesson Pipping, director of the union, told the outlet that the findings were “shocking”.

“It’s nepotism, and also, instead of employing people for longer times, they just employ people for six months at a time and keep giving new positions to the same people,” she said.

After receiving complaints from members who could not find openly advertised positions, the union decided to carry out an investigation into 268 job offers for lecturers and researchers. Job-hunters found that there “were virtually no jobs to apply for, because all jobs have already been set aside for somebody else”, she said.

A third of adverts attracted just one applicant, while three-quarters had fewer than five, the investigation found. Internal applicants secured three-quarters of the jobs on offer.

Universities are also hiding job adverts on obscure sections of their website, the union discovered, and requiring extensive documentation despite short notice. Winning applicants were chosen just days after the closing date, suggesting that external applicants had not been properly considered, the investigation found.

“They’re getting away with this because if you are unhappy with the decision, you have to make a formal complaint, and you don’t want to complain because you want the next job to be yours,” she added. “You don’t want to make a fuss and be a troublemaker.”

The union has called on the Swedish government to take action.

david.matthews@timeshighereducation.com

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