From precarious conditions to permanent positions? Problems, responsible actors, and solutions for strengthening the academic mid-level staff in Switzerland
The precarious situation of doctoral and postdoctoral researchers, resulting from fixed-term contracts and the demanding working conditions of young researchers at Swiss universities, has been increasingly discussed in recent years by academic organizations, political actors, and the broader public. While discussions on various levels are intensifying, concrete measures remain largely absent, and young researchers find themselves in an environment of job insecurity and a lack of prospects. Therefore, we organized a panel discussion on why and how to create permanent positions in the Swiss academic system during this year’s annual conference of the Swiss Association of Communication and Media Research (SACM). The panel included presentations of preliminary results from a recent study analyzing the working conditions of young and emerging communication and media scholars in Switzerland as well as discussions with researchers and actors from science organizations regarding: 1) the need for improvement of the current working conditions and the future perspectives of mid-level staff at Swiss universities, 2) the responsibilities of different actors, and 3) alternatives to the status quo that help solve the precarious situation of young and emerging scholars in Switzerland and beyond. The discussion showed several reasons for establishing more permanent positions and inducing a systemic change. While there are manifold arguments for creating more permanent positions, these arguments must appeal to those with decision-making power.
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