Results of the survey: creation of positions at UNIL

In December 2023, ACIDUL sent out a survey to all PhD students and members of mid-level staff at UNIL. Our aim was to identify the perceived needs in terms of available positions at UNIL, based on the observation that permanent positions in Swiss universities are rare.

Indeed, in Switzerland, 80% of academic staff is employed on fixed-term contracts that range from a few months to a few years (see the report from the ASSH, 2018, based on this document from the SEFRI; also, see this press article). After a decade of training and years of professional experience, a significant number of researchers are unable to find a stable position and therefore leave academia. In Switzerland, it is estimated that only 9% of PhD holders will secure a permanent position in the future (see Petition Academia’s document « Pour la création d’emplois permanents dans le monde académique : de meilleures conditions de recherche, d’enseignement et de travail », 2021).

In addition to being economically nonsensical, the departure of these people represents a considerable loss for the quality of science and higher education, the smooth functioning of research teams, and the supervision of students. Furthermore, it is a known fact that uncertainty regarding one’s professional future can have catastrophic consequences on one’s health (depression, anxiety, burnout, etc., as mentioned in this study, for example), and make one more vulnerable to abusive behaviors, such as harassment (see this study and this study).

In 2024, notably thanks to the hard work of the Association of mid-level staff of the University of Zurich, UZH created a significant number of stable positions at the intermediary level.

ACIDUL aims to launch a similar project at UNIL. Should the University open up new positions at the level of the intermediate body or prioritise the professoral level? And what types of positions are needed and preferred by the PhD students and mid-level staff researchers ?

The survey closed on 31st January 2024. Below, you will find the main results, which we will soon discuss with the intermediary body associations at the faculty level and present to rectorate of UNIL.

Many thanks to the 423 people who participated in this survey and shared their opinions!