Doctoral students with external scholarships

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At KI there are doctoral students who are wholly or partly financed through external scholarships (e.g. under international collaboration agreements).

What is an external scholarship?

An external scholarship is a scholarship that a doctoral student receives from his or her home country, home university or the like. All doctoral students at KI are to have a reasonable level of income, regardless of how it is financed.

Severe restrictions in the ability to finance doctoral education with external scholarships as of 1 July 2018

The government decided last autumn on amendments to the Higher Education Ordinance that severely restrict the ability to finance doctoral education with external scholarships, and that have thus necessitated a revision of KI’s own scholarship rules. The amendments to the ordinance mean that doctoral students may not receive scholarship funding for longer than one year; after that they must be employed. This applies to all students in Sweden entering doctoral education on or after 1 July 2018. Exceptions will be made for scholarships awarded under an aid or capacity-building programme or an EU-financed programme or the eqiuivalent.

Programs from countries included in the DAC / OECD which applied at the time of the students admission counts as aid and capacity building programs, aid and capacity building cooperation is defined by the Board of International Development Cooperation (Sida) “Capacity development is a process in which individuals, groups and organizations develops their ability to identify and manage the challenges they encounter during the development process”

Equivalent means:

  • formalised doctoral education collaborations (based on a general cooperation agreement with KI) in which scholarships are a customary form of financing (often leading to a double or joint degree) and in which doctoral students from a non-Swedish home university participate.
    KI has formalised doctoral education collaborations (based on a general cooperation agreement with KI) with National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, National Institutes of Health (NIH) in US, Makerere University in Uganda and Stellenbosch University in South Africa.
  • financing from international scholarship organisations approved by the Board of Doctoral Education.
    Approved international scholarship organisations are those that KI has a formal collaborative agreements with (presently Chinese Scholarship Council and the Indonesian scholarship organisation LPDP).

Minimum income levels

Doctoral students at KI in receipt of a scholarship or a Sida allowance (for education) are to have at least the same level of income as other doctoral students.

External scholarships that fall short of the minimum income level are to be supplemented with a top-up scholarship from KI or employment (see below).

Minimum income levels change over time since they are pegged to the general income levels set by the salaries for employed doctoral students "the doctoral salary ladder". More information about salaries for employed doctoral students.

The current minimum income levels are (valid from November 1 2018):

  • Year 1: SEK 21,201/month
  • Year 2: SEK 21,545 /month
  • Year 3: SEK 22,284/month
  • Year 4: SEK 22,680/month
  • All 4 years: SEK 21,928/month

The amounts are calculated on the basis of the doctoral salary ladder, less tax deductions as per the tax table for Solna municipality.

The amounts may be halved for students studying half-time.

Supplementary financing

All collaboration agreements with other universities and partners must aim to set a level of financing corresponding to that of an employed doctoral student (i.e., “doctoral studentship”). Should it not be possible to reach an agreement that meets KI’s income requirements for doctoral students, the department is to provide supplementary financing, set up a top-up doctoral scholarship (see below) or refrain from admitting students under that agreement.

Supplementary financing, such as ALVA employment for a number of months each year or a top-up scholarship, must always be worked out in consultation with the department’s human resources director and/or administrative manager.

Top-up scholarships

A department may set up a top-up scholarship for doctoral students (if the external scholarships fall short of the minimum income level) on the fulfilment of certain conditions. See Scholarship Regulations at KI.

Note that the government appropriation may not be used to set up such scholarships and that they may not be paid to someone who has received a salary or fee from KI within a two-year period prior to the first scholarship disbursement. Scholarships may only be set up using funds provided by external financiers who have given due written approval.

Apart from top-up doctoral scholarships, no KI scholarships are allowed for doctoral education.

Social benefits for doctoral students with external scholarships

Scholarship holders are not employed at KI and therefore do not have the same rights regarding pension, expense allowances, health and wellness allowance, etc. or any formally regulated holiday entitlement.


Scholarship holders are not covered by any of the benefits provided by collective agreement, such as parental pay and sick pay. Their right to social insurance benefits depends on citizenship, length of time in Sweden, etc. This must all be sorted out individually so that each scholarship holder and KI knows what he or she is entitled to. Read more about insurance.

Sickness and parental leave

Chapter 1 section 11c of the Higher Education Ordinance provides that a higher education institution shall provide insurance cover through an agreement with the Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency for doctoral students whose studies are financed by stipends (scholarships). This insurance is to apply when the doctoral student’s stipend ceases to be paid because of absence from study on the grounds of illness or parental leave.

The Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency’s health and parental insurance is an obligatory group insurance administrated by the Human Resources Department; the premium is paid annually by the department.

Compensation is paid when the student’s scholarship is discontinued on grounds of absence from studies in the event of:

  • illness
  • parental leave
  • temporary parental leave

Scholarship holders admitted to KI are also covered by the Legal, Financial and Administrative Services’ “Personal injury insurance for university students”. The policy applies during study time and direct travel to and from campus.

More on the Legal, Financial and Administrative Services’ insurances for doctoral students on a scholarship

More on insurance cover for scholarship holders (in Swedish)


Scholarship holders have no formally regulated holiday entitlement since they are not employed. The length and dates of holidays should be regulated in the individual study plan.


No pension provision is made for scholarship holders since they are not employed.

Recruitment of doctoral students on scholarships

The main rule is that doctoral students at KI are to be selected through a competitive recruitment process, which means that in most cases doctoral places must be duly advertised. However, the Higher Education Ordinance allows an exemption from this requirement, which KI interprets to mean that no such advertisement is needed if the student has undergone a separate competitive selection process (e.g. for the awarding of a scholarship).

More information about the recruitment of doctoral students


Students and supervisors are asked to direct any questions they have about scholarships to their departmental human resources director.

Students who have questions about their education are to contact their supervisors or their departmental director of studies and/or doctoral education administrator.

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