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Published:  3 Mar 2022

MSCA survey highlights high satisfaction levels among fellows and alumni

A recent survey of MSCA alums tracked a high level of satisfaction with some room for improvement in certain respects.

The Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA) regularly sends surveys to current fellows and alumni to gather data on their profiles and the mid and long term impact of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA).

The evidence collected also inputs into the development of the MSCA and allows improvements to the programme to better address the researchers’ needs.

The survey gathers feedback on the fellows’ experience during their doctorate or post-doctorate. It seeks information on their career steps after the fellowship and the contribution of their research to the objectives of the European Green Deal.

The results of the last survey, launched in 2020, highlight the satisfaction of respondents with their MSCA experience and the benefits they identify with taking part in the programme.

Large scale survey

With a total response rate of 12%, the survey was sent to 17,000 MCAA members and completed by over 2,000 respondents between July and September 2020.

Most respondents (66%) were funded as postdoctoral researchers or further on in their research career, whilst the rest (34%) were doctoral candidates funded by MSCA.

Among respondents, international mobility is a common feature:

  • 76% of respondents moved at least twice in their career
  • 63% were considering moving abroad again
  • 58% had already worked or studied abroad before their PhD.

Doctoral and postdoctoral experience

Over 75% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they had developed skills such as project management, communication skills, professional networking or career management.

The survey shows that most respondents are positive about aspects such as the quality of the supervision received, resources available, the research culture in their organisation and professional development during their projects.

The answers also identified common barriers at both PhD and postdoctoral level. The main issues pointed out are the lack of available positions and competitiveness after MSCA and the strong pressure to publish.

The lack of a good network of contacts is also a key obstacle, as highlighted by PhD researchers in particular. Postdoctoral researchers believed the relationship with the supervisor could be improved.

In 2021, a set of supervision recommendations for individuals and institutions were introduced through the MSCA Guidelines on Supervision in response to the shortfalls identified.

Career after MSCA

Overall, the MSCA experience is considered to be useful or very useful for their career development and progression by 88% of respondents. Most respondents were still employed in the EU (nearly 70%) or the United Kingdom (12%) at the time of the survey.

The main employer of respondents was the academic sector at 74%. This is followed by industry (7%), the public sector or governments (6%) and the private sector (3%).

The share of fellows and alumni considering employment opportunities outside academia increased in 2020 compared to the previous survey conducted in 2017. In 2020, 37% of those surveyed who responded were considering opportunities in industry, with 21% considering the private sector/business, among other sectors.

On working conditions, respondents were asked about the type of contract after their MSCA experience. The results indicated that

  • 33% of respondents had tenure track or permanent contracts,
  • 33% had fixed term contracts of up to two years and
  • 24% had longer fixed-term contracts

Contribution to Green Deal

The survey also highlighted one area for potential improvement - sustainable or green research.

A large share of respondents (28%) considered that their research projects addressed at least one objective of the European Green Deal. Up to 50% confirmed that their institution had a sustainable strategy or a green policy in place.

By contrast, 41% acknowledged that their project did not take any particular measure to reduce its environmental impact or promote sustainable actions. As many as 23% did not know whether such measures were taken.

Measures to green the MSCA were proposed by respondents, highlighting in particular the  need for better guidance from the European Commission.

In 2021, taking on board feedback from respondents, the MSCA produced the MSCA Green Charter.

Follow the link below to download the full report of the survey.

MSCA on Social Media

The MSCA social media accounts are continuously updated with relevant information for MSCA project coordinators and fellows.

To download the full results of the questionnaire, follow the link below to the EU Publications Office.

Tagged in:  MSCA
Published:  3 Mar 2022