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Published:  15 Mar 2024

MSCA end-of-fellowship surveys show high satisfaction with the programme

The surveys provide insights into MSCA researchers’ experience, skills acquired and career paths after their fellowship. 

Person filling in a survey

All researchers participating in Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) projects must complete an evaluation questionnaire, immediately after the fellowship, and a follow-up questionnaire two years later. 

The European Commission regularly publishes the latest results of these two questionnaires. The 2024 report notably looks at results according to different scientific fields. 

Good training offer and relevant skills development

Overall, fellows report a high satisfaction with the quality of MSCA training. Nearly 86% of respondents consider the training provided as good or very good. 

The skills acquired during the fellowship are highly relevant for fellows in their career afterwards.

Two years later, more than 98% of fellows had used the skills acquired during the MSCA fellowship in their work.

Over two-thirds of fellows used the skills they developed to a large or very large extent, with the highest proportion for former chemistry fellows (71%). 

Under Horizon Europe, training under MSCA projects also covers new emerging skills required for research careers, including open science practices and for the green and digital transitions.

Mobility and collaboration with the non-academic sector

One of the objectives of the MSCA programme is to promote the mobility of researchers across borders, disciplines and sectors to enhance their training experience and career development opportunities. 

Around one third of MSCA fellows gain experience outside academia during their fellowship. The highest shares are in information science and engineering (42%), life sciences (36%) and social sciences and humanities (35%). 

Two years later, 96% of fellows who spent at least part of their fellowship outside academia considered that the experience had made a positive contribution to their career afterwards. 

54% of respondents felt that their experience outside of academia had significantly or greatly benefited their career since completing the fellowship.

Careers after MSCA 

The questionnaires provide figures on employment status of former Innovative Training Networks (ITN), COFUND and Individual Fellowships (IF) researchers at the end of the fellowship and two years afterwards. 

Nearly 50% of doctoral fellows find employment at the end of their fellowship, while 26% are still in training (e.g. still completing their PhD), 15% unemployed and 10% not employed for other reasons (e.g. career break, parental leave, etc.). 

79% of former postdoctoral fellows find employment immediately after the fellowship, 10% are unemployed, 4% in training and 7% not employed for other reasons. 

Two years after, only 4% of all former fellows (7% of doctoral and 1% of postdoctoral fellows) are unemployed at the time of completing the follow-up questionnaire.

The majority of former fellows continue to work in academia and within their field of expertise after their MSCA project.

Among those employed, 70% of ITN, COFUND and IF former fellows work within academia immediately after the fellowship. Two years after, the figure amounts to 63% of fellows.

The large majority of employed fellows are still working in the subject field of their MSCA fellowship two years later. The highest share of fellows is in social sciences and humanities (92%), life sciences (91%) and information science and engineering (91%). The lowest share is among environment and geosciences fellows (77%).

Among fellows working outside academia, the main employers immediately after the fellowship were large enterprises and Small and Medium Enterprises, with a lower share in other sectors (i.e. international organisations, hospitals, museums, etc.), private non-profit organisations and public administrations / governments. 

About the end-of-fellowship questionnaires

Since 2018, a total of over 21,000 MSCA fellows have completed the evaluation questionnaire and nearly 2,500 have completed the follow-up questionnaire. 

Introduced under Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation framework programme for 2014-2020, these questionnaires have complemented other existing tools, such as the Marie Curie Alumni Association’s Major Survey. 

The questionnaires collect feedback from former MSCA fellows on the impact of the fellowship on their research, skills development and career since the completion of their MSCA project. They are also one of the programme’s main career tracking tools, collecting information on the career paths and mobility of former fellows’ since their MSCA fellowship. 

A large number of MSCA projects funded under Horizon 2020 have recently finished or are still ongoing.  As a result, the programme is still collecting responses to the end-of-fellowships surveys. The results of the surveys will be regularly analysed and inform the future development of the programme. 

Published:  15 Mar 2024