Two hands, taking a book from a shelf.
The University of Lapland is the third university in Finland to introduce a model of part-time employment for grant researchers. Photo: Elli Alasaari.

University of Lapland improves the status of grant researchers through part-time employment


The University of Lapland has introduced a model in which grant-funded researchers are offered an opportunity to conclude a ten percent employment contract with the University. The opportunity is available for researchers who have received at least a 12-month grant from an external party. The reform aims to improve the status of grant researchers.

As of the beginning of May, the University of Lapland has started to conclude part-time, ten percent employment contracts with its grant-funded researchers whose grants are lasting at least 12 months. The reform aims to improve the status of grant researchers and give them the opportunity to become a more integral part of the University community.

"The status of grant researchers has been under discussion at the Finnish universities for a longer time. Earlier, grant researchers have often remained outside the University's operations, even though the research they have conducted has been closely related to, for example, the University's strategic emphasis and has been valuable to the University in many ways, for example by producing doctoral degrees and scientific publications. Despite this, they haven't had the same benefits and security as researchers employed by the University," says Pia Satta, Director of Human Resources at the University of Lapland.

In practice, a part-time, ten percent employment contract means 161 hours of work time per year for a grant researcher. The tasks can be, for example, teaching and supervision related to researcher's own field, and they are agreed together with the supervisor. With the employment contract, the grant researcher is given, if needed, a workspace, a computer and a telephone, access to information systems and databases, and a right to use occupational health services and well-being benefits.

An employment relationship is possible when the researcher has received at least a 12-month grant from an external party, and the grant has been awarded and the research is related to the dissertation or postdoctoral study at the University of Lapland. In 2023, the employment contract can exceptionally concern a shorter period if the researcher has been awarded at least a 12-month grant that covers the whole year 2023.

Employment contracts benefit both grant researchers and the University

Grant-funded research is carried out in all phases of researchers' career, especially while doing dissertation and post-doc research. Only a few Finnish universities offer their grant researchers an opportunity for employment contracts. In addition to the University of Lapland, a similar practice exists at the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Oulu.

"At the Lapin Tieteentekijät, we are delighted about the grant researchers finally getting employment contracts – as an association, we submitted an initiative for this to the Rector in March 2021," says Hanna Lempinen, Chairperson of Lapin Tieteentekijät ry, an association of University Researchers and Teachers of Lapland.

"From the grant recipient's point of view, a part-time employment contract guarantees the researchers occupational health care, the access to systems and equipment, equal rights to work-related travel with other personnel of the unit, and other benefits belonging to the employment contracts. In addition, one benefit of employment contracts is the possibility to harmonise the situation of grant researchers in different units of the University," says Lempinen.

According to Lempinen, ten percent working time is an excellent opportunity, especially for researchers at an early career stage, to gain experience in teaching, supervision and administrative tasks.

"Certainly, it is also an advantage for the University to have more workforce in-house to carry out teaching and subject development," Lempinen mentions.

Further information:

Pia Satta, Director of Human Resources, tel. +358 40 726 3471, pia.satta (at)
Hanna Lempinen, Chairperson of Lapin Tieteentekijät ry, hanna.lempinen (at)
Information on the 10 % employment contract