International linguists flock to the north
Good research opportunities and attractive working conditions are bringing talented researcher recruits to Tromsø. Pavel Caha from the Czech Republic is pleased to have started his research career so far north. "There are lots of opportunities for doctoral fellows here," he says.
The Center for Advanced Study in Theoretical Linguistics (CASTL) at the University of Tromsø is one of Norway’s 21 Centres of Excellence. Activities at the centre focus on the fields of syntax, phonology and language acquisition and attract researchers from all over the world.
“At the moment we have 18 doctoral fellows, only one of whom is Norwegian,” states Tore Børseth Bentz, Head of Administration at CASTL.
“CASTL is a popular place to work for many linguists because we have a research community that has gained recognition far beyond Norway’s borders.”
“Interest in our postdoctoral positions is also high. We had 16 and 17 applicants respectively for two postdoctoral positions advertised this year,” says Bentz.
Stepping-stone for young researchers
According to Bentz, young researchers from other countries in particular find the excellent working conditions at CASTL to be an eye-opener. “Our doctoral fellows are each provided with a personal computer, telephone and high-standard office facilities,” he explains.
“They also receive a generous travel budget, which enables them to participate in conferences and establish contacts with other research groups. In addition, doctoral fellows in Norway have the status of employees and as such receive a salary, which is not the case in many other countries.”
CASTL places particular emphasis on facilitating a smooth transition for its foreign employees. The centre’s working language is English and all information is provided in English as well. CASTL helps new employees to find housing and to obtain a work and settlement permit, a Norwegian personal identification number and tax card, all of which are essential before new foreign employees can start working.
Good funding opportunities crucial
Pavel Caha has just defended his thesis on syntax and the morphology of case at CASTL.
“I was interested in the research here and submitted an application, but I considered other alternatives too,” states Caha. “Funding opportunities were the key to my choosing CASTL.”
“Obviously, it is great to receive a salary while you are working on your doctorate,” he says. “I am also glad to have a travel budget which allows me to take part in conferences and cooperate with researchers in other places.
CASTL also facilitates research cooperation by extending invitations to visiting researchers and by creating meeting places,” he explains.
Straightforward application process
“The application process for the position of research fellow at CASTL was also clear and straightforward compared with those for other positions I applied for,” states Caha.
“In many countries the system is far more bureaucratic than in Norway.
I considered a research visit to the US as part of my doctoral degree at CASTL, but gave up the idea when I discovered how much red tape it involved.
I decided it was better to spend the time in Norway,” he says.
A further three years in Norway
And Caha has decided to stay on in Norway. For his next career move he has chosen three years in a postdoctoral position at CASTL.
“I am very happy with the research environment at CASTL and am lucky to be able to stay on here as a postdoctoral researcher,” says Caha. “I also like Tromsø very much. It is warmer than I thought it would be here in the north, and I find the huge differences between the light and dark periods and between summer and winter fascinating.”
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