Foreigners outperform Norwegians on academic productivity

Foreign citizens are now outperforming Norwegians in academic productivity, in applications for professorships and in the numbers taking up PhD positions in Norway compared to Norwegians studying for a doctorate abroad.

The researchers’ magazine, Forskerforum, has published a list of the 50 researchers at Norwegian institutions producing the most so-called ‘publication points’ (after a formula rewarding universities on the importance of the journal in which a researcher’s publication appears). Of these, 29 are not born in Norway.

Top of the list is Filippo Berto, who was recruited to an ‘international chair’ at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) from the University of Padova in Italy. Approximately one quarter of all researchers in Norway are from abroad, but on this ‘most productive list’ 58% are foreigners.

A second article in the same September issue of Forskerforum found that the majority of applicants for professor positions at Norwegian universities are now coming from abroad. In the period 2016-18 the percentage of foreigners applying for a professor position in Norway was 54% on average, and at three universities – University of Oslo, University of Bergen and NTNU – the percentage was 70%.

These results are found in the NIFU (Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education) report “Attractive academic careers? Applications, recruitment and mobility in the Norwegian university sector”.

The NTNU university magazine, Universitetsavisa, published statistics on the number of foreign citizens undertaking a doctoral degree in Norway compared to Norwegians doing a doctorate abroad, which found that 10 times as many foreigners undertake a doctorate in Norway.

Asking why so many foreigners undertake PhD degrees in Norway, Director General of the Research Council of Norway John-Arne Røttingen said that the financing system for doctoral positions in Norway is very favourable compared to other countries because they are paid a full salary.

“But Norway has a great challenge in the fact that good Norwegian masters degree students now are aiming at a career in business or industry that is much better paid compared to university salaries for PhDs,” Røttingen said.

Guro Lind, the president of the Norwegian Association of Researchers, said that Minister of Research and Higher Education Iselin Nybø should draw up some proposals to put to parliament for measures to make PhD careers more attractive for Norwegian students.