Since last November 27, 70 brilliant graduates expect to sign the contract as FPU (University Teacher Training) to earn 900 euros per month for four years (13,000 euros per year) while preparing their doctoral thesis. They have won one of the 850 disputed contracts offered by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, but in a second round – after some of the winners resigned – and there is no money left for them. Those who took a few more tenths charge since last October, but they will not see a euro until the end of April -as soon- because their salary depends on a new game. "When acting with an extended budget, a gap of 45 to 60 days will occur compared to previous years," they explain in the ministry.
"If they summoned 850 places, it was that they had left for everyone. What happened? It seems that the money slips to other expenses ", arises José Carlos Gómez Villamandos, rector of Córdoba and president of R + D + i in the conference of rectors CRUE. "It's a legislative problem. When we meet with the ministries we do group therapy. When not for the Treasury, for Intervention … ", he despairs.
Where has that money gone ?, the 70 affected ones ask themselves. The ministry assures that it was necessary to open a new call for these doctoral students and that they need to release money from other projects not executed to collect the 5.6 million euros needed to pay them. It would be very difficult to split the economic line.
The delay in payment to those affected by the FPU is not an isolated case. Those of last year did not charge until July, count the current victims, and tardiness in the university calls are common. The national end-of-career awards, for example, are held with such a delay – even a year and a half – that some winners have not been able to exhibit that merit in time for a public contest.
The socialist government has streamlined the deadlines but the elections leave their plans in the air. "The feeling is that there is a bottleneck for everything. The State Research Agency that developed with the Law of Science [aprobada en 2011] to speed up the protocols has not helped. It is not a problem of lack of will of the ministries -even the government that is- but structural, of frame. We must innovate ", criticizes the rector of Cordoba, José Carlos Gómez Mandos. "There are resolutions of stays outside Spain that are resolved late and no longer gives time."
"I am upset by the inequality in the demands. We have gone through a very hard process to achieve the contract, with very strict deadlines in which any error cost you score and now we have been waiting four months for a role, "complains Jesus, who investigates gender inequalities in people with mental disorders at the University of Granada. "It is not understood that the ministry does not impose on itself any term when it is playing with the stability of people's lives," he continues. In the selection for the FPU, the career file is taken into account – above 8.4 – the project presented and the trajectory of the thesis director and the research team. A meticulous screening because the ministry looks for the best among the best.
In 2017 there were 66,000 PhD students, of which 15,000 could work full time in their thesis because they had a contract – many associated with the budget of a research team or with a community grant – and of these, 3,400 were the of FPU.
When the 70 sign the contract will not receive the salary of these five months retroactively, but the four years count from that date. But since the doctoral students have a maximum term of four years to defend their thesis, they have not crossed their arms and now work free of charge to arrive on time. Andrea, physicist, started in 2017 the thesis in neuroscience with a contract from the laboratory to which she belongs and this year the team did not have to extend it to achieve an FPU. By not entering, survives thanks to family support. "At this rate I'm going to start charging almost at the end of the second year, so I'm going to enjoy two of the four years of the contract," he says.
The law allows that if the beneficiary is a doctor before the end of the agreement – he has four years to do the thesis – he continues as a postdoctoral. But Andrea does not buy this reasoning: "Nobody stays in his postdoc laboratory. You need a stay outside in your curriculum. "
The team of the University of Valencia in which Marina is integrated, physical, did not count on it when doing annual accounts. The FPU was going to cover their expenses. Going into unemployment between contract and contract is common among the most precarious, always pending the publication of the following state scientific research plan that provides your team with sufficient funds to hire them.
Natalia, meanwhile, researches for free in Biomedicine "for the love of science" since September at the CSIC while waiting for the FPU. She keeps her family pulling on the savings, she says gratefully, because she can not reconcile her experiments with a partial job. "With crops or mice there are no schedules," he says. Amaya, however, considers herself fortunate because she will renounce a scholarship from the Autonomous University of Madrid when she finally receives the FPU. His thesis is about job insecurity.
There are also applicants for the new Beatriz Galindo contracts -these are already doctors-, which the PP announced with great fanfare just a year ago. A total of 21.6 million euros between 2018 and 2021 to "attract to the Spanish university the research talent that is abroad". It was published in the BOE a year ago and the ministry recognizes that more than a month is needed for it to be resolved.