Spain, no country for postdocs

It’s been about two years since I got my PhD from the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) and nothing has changed, research-wise. I was hired in tranScriptorium as research support staff, where I keep doing the same things as before graduation. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and am pleased to work with a really competent and skilled team at the PRHLT research center. However, at the UPV there are no possibilities of promotion or tenure. Not at all. And it seems to be the case for most of Spanish universities as well.

Gone are the glory days when your PhD gave you direct access to a tenure track. Currently, Spanish researchers who retire are no longer replaced. That’s insane. As a result, the vast majority Spanish postdocs are basically wasting their time. This is the fate of most people that get their PhD today in Spain. Simply put, Science is not a priority in Spain.

I don’t know what would be the best solution for this pressing problem. Moving to another country? Perhaps, but this decision should be optional for the brave postdocs, not mandatory because they have no choice. Actually, this is leading to a massive brain drain, which is bad for science and therefore bad for everyone. Running a startup or a spin-off? Perhaps (actually that’s what I did), but not all researchers are ready for entrepreneurship. In my opinion, good researchers should be given the opportunity to get some kind of internal promotion. For instance, being able to lead some research project or appearing as principal advisor in master’s theses, PhD theses, or final degree projects.

PS: As a side effect of all of this, there are many departments filled with affluent peers that no longer do research. But that’s a story worth of another blog post.