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CoE staff and recruitment at the University of Oslo

The CoRG has sought out well-known and highly recognised researchers with impressive activities and publication records. It also gives high priority to post-docs. Internationally, young researchers seeking an academic career in CoRG’s field of research have few possibilities, making the CoRG post-doc positions especially attractive. In fact the applicants are from the highest ranked and best-known universities; CoRG can pick from the best talent in the field. In contrast, PhD candidates still seem to prefer universities such as Harvard and Oxford, so that the quality is less impressive than for post-docs. Moreover, the quality of local PhD candidates has decreased in the CoE period.

As mentioned above, senior researchers have used part of their funding to buy out their teaching obligations for bachelor’s and master’s courses. A combination of circumstances has meant that the department has not replaced the senior researchers in the centre with staff with similar research competence. The centre’s post-docs teach but only on a temporary basis, and they do not take part in setting the content of the teaching programmes.

Overall, the CoE seems to provide an environment for good interaction between seniors and juniors. So far, the latter have not had any difficulty pursuing a career and appear to be attractive candidates.

Because CoEs cannot apply for a second CoE grant, they have to be integrated into the organisational structure of the university once the grant period ends. However, most CoEs are quite specialised and often require technical support personnel with specific competencies, which makes it difficult to integrate them. The University of Oslo is therefore considering instructions for recruitment to ensure a smoother wind-up of the centres, which would entail shifting some authority from the centre leader to the department and the university. This may not be well received by CoE leaders who may already struggle to find their place within a long-established and rigid organisational structure.

At the end of the CoE funding period, the contract of about half of the academic staff of the CoRG will be terminated. Recently, the CoRG has been allocated four out of five new positions in the department, which will secure some continuity in the research area. However, there is a danger of skewing the balance between the different subfields of the discipline, which are small. If too many resources go to one of these, the others might suffer. All parties are conscious of this issue.

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