Postdoc fellowship Switzerland
A brief introduction to post-doctorate fellowships in Switzerland
There are twelve state-run universities in Switzerland at which postdoc studies can be done. However, in Switzerland there are more opportunities to further one’s academic career, as large companies and research centres also offer postdoctoral positions – with particular emphasis on biotechnology and pharmacology.
Working conditions do vary, however postdocs are generally employed full-time. Activities will include extensive time for research but, depending on the funding, teaching may also play a part in the role. Giving lectures, which is sometimes expected in institutions in other countries, is usually reserved for the professors or lecturers (Assistent/in, maître d'enseignement et recherche) at Swiss institutions.
Getting a position
In order to start as a postdoc scientist, it is normally required that you have a PhD from a recognised university. In most cases, a doctoral title from a developed nation is recognised – please do check with each institution. The university or professor at the institution can tell you if the conditions are satisfied and if you match the desired profile.
Postdoctoral researchers are normally hired by universities or by a company. There is no set amount of time for the length of a postdoc, but it is usually between one and six years, which is entirely dependent on the field of research and the institution. However, most universities do have time limits – a postdoc is restricted to six years.
There are frequently some very specific entry requirements – this does vary from one institution to another, however the following, taken from the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, ETH Zürich), can be expected:
- Applicants should have completed their doctoral degree within two years of submission
- At least one scientific publication in a peer-reviewed journal, or a prize for their doctoral thesis
- To start the fellowship at the latest six months after the submission of the application
- Applicants from outside Switzerland will often need to meet specific English-language requirements in order to study
Academic positions within science, research and engineering can be found here.
In general terms, Switzerland has the fourth highest amount of average incomes. Academic jobs are also highly sought after, which to some extent will guarantee a long and healthy career should you choose to stay in Switzerland.
However, it is important to bear in mind that in general, job seeking opportunities are prioritised for those within the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Only when employers can demonstrate that they were unable to find a qualified Swiss or EU candidate they can consider citizens from other countries. This makes it difficult for those outside of member states to find employment. In 2015, 30 per cent of the workforce was foreign. Of that 30 per cent, 78 per cent were from an EU or EFTA country.
Programmes are designed to help foster high-potential young researchers and scientists who can demonstrate excellence within an internationally competitive academic arena. Attaining achievements in the early stages of a professional career is typically already expected.
The usual amount of working time for a postdoc in Switzerland is 42 hours a week – in line with most workers in the country. Holidays are met with the legal remit of four weeks a year; however more generous institutions can allow up to five.
With regards to funding support, there are a number of areas an institution can help with. It is important to remember the highly competitive nature of positions in Switzerland and therefore grants are often geared towards the most outstanding students.
Funding eligibility often focuses on the following areas:
- Personal salary
- Fund for leave of absence
- Materials and equipment