Regulations for ICM-FWO Fellowship

GENERAL REGULATIONS

The General Regulations apply.

Detailed information, full regulations and forms are available online
Any additional information can be obtained from the secretariat of the Research Foundation - Flanders, Egmontstraat 5, 1000 BRUSSELS, tel 02 512 91 10.

SCOPE

Art. 1.

These regulations apply to holders of an ICM-FWO Fellowship of the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO).

APPLICATIONS AND SENIORITY

Art. 2.

The candidate must have a master degree (*) from one of the countries of the European Union or the European Economic Area (**) or Switzerland. The candidate must submit proof of permission from the university trustees to do a PhD thesis (only required if the diploma has not been awarded or will not be awarded by a Flemish university).

* excluded are master-after-master diplomas as described in the Higher Education Register

** The EU countries plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

Art. 3.

Candidates must submit their applications in English and be affiliated to a university in the Flemish Community or to the Evangelic Theological Faculty in Leuven or the Faculty for Protestant Theology in Brussels, possibly in collaboration with a Flemish or Federal scientific institution where they conduct their research. Candidates with an academic degree (second cycle) from a university outside the Flemish Community are assumed to have sufficient knowledge of Dutch to enable their integration into the research team.

Art. 4.

Candidates are only eligible for an ICM-FWO Fellowship within the first five years of obtaining their Master's degree, calculated from the start date of the fellowship (1 October). If a candidate has more than one Master’s degree, this rule applies only to the degree obtained in the same area of study as the PhD proposal. The 1st Master's must in any case have been obtained no more than 10 years before the start date of the fellowship (1 October), regardless of the area of study. This time limit is postponed by one year in the case of pregnancy or parental leave, calculated from the time of the application. These restrictions do not apply to candidates who have not yet reached the age of 31 at the start of the fellowship (1 October).

The FWO Executive Committee can make an exception to this rule in cases where, for social and medical reasons, there has been either an interruption in the preliminary stage, or a reduced capacity to work.

Art. 5.

Persons cannot apply for a fellowship of which they have previously, even if only partially, been the beneficiary.

Art. 6.

The FWO organises a mandatory written admission test for candidates for an ICM-FWO Fellowship. At this admission test, candidates are asked to answer a number of transversal questions; candidates can prepare for this by consulting a list of papers that will be announced by the FWO at the launch of the call. The admission test is compiled and evaluated by members of the ICM-FWO jury.

Applications of candidates who have passed the admission test are submitted to the ICM-FWO jury; candidates orally defend their application to the jury.

The ICM-FWO jury ranks the applications and present a funding proposal. The Board of Trustees of the FWO decides on the appointment.

Art. 7.

At the beginning of the fellowship, the scientific seniority of candidate ICM-FWO Fellows shall not have exceeded three years, not even by one day. The period worked as Physician- or Pharmacist-Specialist in Training is counted only for half its length.

APPOINTMENT

Art. 8.

The ICM-FWO Fellowship is a grant (*) subject to the National Social Security system by virtue of Art. 15, paragraph 2 of the Royal Decree of 28 November 1969, exempt from income tax under Art. 90, paragraph 2 of the Income Tax Code 1992 (**) for a period of one year, possibly renewable twice by one year. This second and third period must immediately follow on the first and second period respectively. Applications for renewal must always be submitted during the current fellowship year regardless of any suspensions.

To allow the application for renewal to be submitted to the competent jury, the ICM-FWO Fellow must apply for renewal of his/her fellowship in each fellowship year before May 1.  

The beneficiary of an ICM-FWO Fellowship who obtains a PhD by thesis within his/her first or second fellowship year cannot apply for renewal(s) of his/her fellowship.

* Grants are not considered taxable income and holders of an ICM Fellowship therefore qualify as dependents for tax purposes (Art. 143 of the Income Tax Code 1992 and Com. I.B. 136/27)

** Com. I.B. 41/22, first paragraph and Circular Letter from Directorate II/6 Ci. RH 241/430.824 by Inspector General G.A. DE GROOTE.

Art. 9.

Whether or not fellows are subject to a medical examination at the occupational health service of the institution where they carry out their research, depends on the internal regulations of their host institution. If a medical examination is prescribed by the regulations of their host institution, their appointment will not take effect until a favourable medical examination certificate can be submitted.

Art. 10.

All ICM-FWO Fellows will receive a copy of the modified conditions of their FWO grant agreements.

Art. 11.

Without prejudice to the provisions of Article 16, holders of an ICM-FWO Fellowship shall not be members of the Academic Assistant Staff or Independent Academic Staff of the universities or assimilated institutions.

Art. 11bis.

Subject to the general law of contract termination, the fellowship, and therefore the grant agreement, will, as a rule, terminate upon expiry of each awarded year.

The grant agreement will be immediately terminated by operation of law, without any compensation, if the grant holder is no longer affiliated to a university in the Flemish Community or to the Evangelic Protestant Faculty in Leuven or the Faculty for Protestant Theology in Brussels, possibly in collaboration with a Flemish or Federal institution, or if the supervisor no longer holds at least one of the following positions:

1° Independent Academic Staff member with a remunerated appointment of more than 10% at a Flemish university;

2° Independent Academic Staff member with a remunerated appointment of 10% at a Flemish university and whose main task is research;

3° Independent Academic Staff member with a remunerated appointment of 5% at a Flemish university and with an appointment as (assistant) clinical head or an equal function in a university hospital;

4° academic staff member with a remunerated appointment at the Evangelical Protestant Faculty in Leuven and the Faculty for Protestant Theology in Brussels;

5° research director of FWO;

6° a designated beneficiary of an ERC Starting Grant, an ERC Consolidator Grant, an Advanced Grant or an Odysseus II grant, with a Flemish university as host institution.

However, the grant holder will, where appropriate, have the right to designate, in consultation with the host institution, an alternative supervisor who meets at least one of the required criteria, and thus prevent dissolution of the agreement.

Also if the supervisor of the grant holder is found to have committed a serious breach of integrity which, in the opinion of the host institution, is serious enough to disqualify him/her as supervisor, can the grant holder designate an alternative supervisor in consultation with the host institution.

Art. 11ter.

Furthermore, the grant agreement will be terminated by operation of law, without compensation or notice to the researcher, if the latter commits a breach of integrity which immediately and definitively renders any professional collaboration between the FWO and the researcher impossible.

Art. 11quater.

As soon as the FWO becomes aware of breaches of the scientific integrity of one of its researchers, the FWO will hear the researcher.

The researcher has the right to legal counsel.

After having heard the researcher, the FWO can make the following decisions:

  • close the case without taking further action;
  • have the facts put down on record and include this record in the personal file of the grant holder with the FWO;
  • issue a formal warning and include this warning in the personal file of the grant holder with the FWO;
  • dissolve the agreement by operation of law as provided for in article 11ter of the regulations.

The above-mentioned consequences b) and c) may also be taken into consideration by the competent expert panel for the evaluation of any application for extension of the fellowship.

RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF HOLDERS OF AN ICM-FWO FELLOWSHIP

Art. 12.

Holders of an ICM-FWO Fellowship are administratively and legally dependent on the FWO Board of Trustees, represented by its Chair and its Secretary General. In disciplinary matters, they are subject to the academic authority of the university.

In addition, they undertake to comply with the FWO regulations and those of the academic authorities of the university.

Art. 13.

§ 1. The research project proposed by holders of an ICM-FWO Fellowship must be carried out under the supervision of a supervisor, where appropriate in collaboration with co-supervisors. 

§ 2. The supervisor shall be either:

1° an Independent Academic Staff member with a remunerated appointment of more than 10% at a Flemish university;

2° an Independent Academic Staff member with a remunerated appointment of 10% at a Flemish university and whose main task is research;

3° an Independent Academic Staff member with aremunerated appointment of 5% at a Flemish university and with an appointment as (assistant) clinical head or an equal function in a university hospital;

4° an academic staff member with a remunerated appointment at the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Leuven and the Faculty for Protestant Theology in Brussels;

5° a research director of FWO;

6° a designated beneficiary of an ERC Starting Grant, an ERC Consolidator Grant, an Advanced Grant or an Odysseus II grant, with a Flemish university as host institution.

§ 3. All co-supervisors have to be researchers of at least postdoctoral level. Co-supervisors have to be affiliated with a remunerated appointment to a Flemish university, or a Flemish research institution, or a Flemish university hospital, or the Transnational University Limburg, or the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Leuven, or the Faculty for Protestant Theology in Brussels, or a federal scientific institution where the co-supervisor belongs to the Dutch-speaking community.

Art. 14.

ICM-FWO Fellows may change the subject of their research only for duly justified reasons and subject to the consent of their supervisor and the FWO. They cannot change host institutions. Host institutions may mutually agree on collaboration and place of employment.

Art. 15.

Holders of an ICM-FWO Fellowship undertake to complete a PhD by thesis.

Art. 16.

Holders of an ICM-FWO Fellowship may enrol on a PhD course. In addition, they may undertake other courses in relation to their research, provided this does not jeopardise the completion of the PhD thesis within the term of the fellowship. The total workload, including both other coursework and duties assigned by their supervisor, shall not exceed 8 hours per week. Examples of such duties include: supervision of exercises, practical lessons or seminars, for which the workload is counted double (e.g. 1-hour seminar = 2-hour workload), or administrative or clinical tasks.  They are not allowed to engage in teaching activities and to undertake teacher training.

Art. 17.

The fellowship may not be accumulated with any other remuneration or compensation. However, at the request of the fellow, the Foundation may allow full or partial accumulation with grants for study stays abroad. Holders of a travel grant from the FWO, the Flemish Community, the Federal Government or as part of Cultural Agreements, may accumulate such grant with their fellowship. They are requested to notify FWO thereof.

Masters of Law, beneficiaries of an FWO grant, must not have been registered with the Bar.

Art. 18.

Holders of an ICM-FWO Fellowship must submit a report on their scientific activities to the FWO at the end of each academic year. A copy of this report must be sent to the head of the institution to which they are affiliated.

Art. 19.

All publications and reprints of holders of an ICM-FWO Fellowship must mention their title of "ICM-FWO Fellow of the Research Foundation - Flanders".

Art. 20.

Holders of an ICM-FWO Fellowship are required to undertake a full time study of one year at a foreign university, taking into account their personal and family situation and the financial support they receive from the FWO. The FWO pays the tuition fee up to a max. of €20,000. Travel expenses incurred by the ICM-FWO Fellow for the journey to the foreign institute are reimbursed once (return trip). If the tuition fee exceeds the maximum amount of €20,000, the excess will have to borne by the ICM-FWO Fellow.

The candidate is responsible for obtaining permission to enrol at a foreign institution and any certificates that may be required for this purpose (e.g. TOEFL test, GMAT test, etc.). These formalities must be completed timely during the first year of the fellowship, and shall already be included in the work schedule to be submitted by the candidate when applying for the ICM-FWO Fellowship. 

The FWO does not pay any costs related to the study period abroad, such as application for an international passport, visa, any administrative charges, local travel expenses, etc. ICM-FWO Fellows can apply for an FWO travel grant for a long stay abroad to help finance this mandatory study abroad.

ICM-FWO Fellows can only apply for studies abroad with the permission of the FWO. Such permission can only be granted if the Fellow can continue to be subject to the Belgian social security system during his/her stay abroad. Therefore, the ICM-FWO Fellow must have been registered under the Belgian social security system for at least 30 calendar days prior to his/her departure. In exceptional cases, based on a justified request, the Secretary General may decide to exempt the fellow from the requirement of continuing to be subject to the Belgian social security system.

Art. 21.

Holders of a fellowship have to notify FWO as soon as possible of any temporary interruption in their research, regardless of the cause.

Art. 22.

Holders of a fellowship have to register as compulsorily insured persons with the health insurance fund of their choice. In case of illness, they have to send a medical certificate stating the period of incapacity to FWO within 48 hours; a copy has to be sent, via the supervisor, to the relevant department of the university where the fellowship holder carries out his/her research.

Art. 23.

In case of an occupational accident, the FWO Personnel Department has to be notified by telephone within 24 hours in order to avoid penal consequences. The official statement together with a medical certificate has to be sent to FWO as soon as possible. The occupational medical service of the institution and the supervisor will have to be notified as well.

 

Art. 24.

The PhD fellow is required to notify FWO forthwith in writing of any change in his/her situation (marital status, birth, change of address, etc.).

SUSPENSION

Art. 25.

The fellowship may be suspended in cases of civil service, prolonged sickness leave, pregnancy and breastfeeding leave, parental leave, palliative leave and and leave for medical assistance. In these cases the fellowship will be extended by the period during which no payments were received. Extensions of less than two weeks are not taken into consideration.

If full-time suspensions of consecutive periods of 3 months occurred, during which the fellowship was not paid out because of prolonged sickness leave, pregnancy and breastfeeding leave, military and/or civilian service, parental leave, and palliative leave, the fellowship will automatically be extended until the end of the academic year. Such an administrative extension will be granted only once, namely at the end of the 3th year of the fellowship. Any suspensions during such automatic extension of the fellowship will not give rise to any further extension of the fellowship. Any application for renewal of the fellowship must, in any case, be submitted during the second fellowship year.

The FWO Board of Trustees may exceptionally grant an extension of up to four years in cases where social and medical reasons result in reduced capacity to work.

Time credit and voluntary part-time employment do not give cause for an extension of the fellowship.

Holders of a fellowship should notify the FWO as soon as possible of such interruptions in their activities.

The fellowship cannot be suspended or extended for any other reason.

CALCULATION OF THE GRANT

Art. 26.

The amount of the ICM-FWO Fellowship grant is limited to the net salary that the beneficiary would receive as an assistant at a university in the Flemish Community (salary scales applicable to the Academic Assistant Staff of the universities in the Flemish Community in accordance with the Decision of the Flemish Government of 4 May 2001 (BOG 9 1 2002)).

The net grant amount per month is minimum € 1,897.76 (index 1.6734 as per 01/07/2016).

The grant is adjusted to the pecuniary seniority awarded to the PhD fellow. The grant takes into account the family situation and is subject to Social Security deductions. The holiday pay and the end-of-year bonus correspond with the holiday and the end-of-year bonus that the beneficiary would receive as an assistant at a university in the Flemish Community.

Art. 27.

§ 1 The pay scale seniority of candidate ICM-FWO Fellows is calculated taking into account the acquired scientific seniority and the following provisions:

1° - the duration of the appointment under an employment of at least 50% at a university or scientific institution, insofar as the work involves research activities;

2° - the duration of the research activities voluntarily undertaken at a university in the Flemish Community, insofar as these activities account for at least 50% of a regular, full-time employment;

3° - half of the duration of the appointment referred to in 1° and 2° in the case of an employment of less than 50%.

§ 2 The duration of the appointment is calculated per calendar month: fractions of months are not counted. The total extent of the pay scale seniority can never exceed the nominal duration of the eligible periods.

§ 3 Each eligible period of prior employment shall be supported by a solemn declaration.

Art. 28.

The grant is linked to the health index as applicable to the academic staff of the universities in the Flemish Community.

Art. 29.

The grant is paid monthly, at the end of the month, into a Belgian financial account.

OCCUPATIONAL ACCIDENTS AND LIABILITY

Art. 30.

ICM-FWO Fellows are covered by legally required insurance against risks inherent in regular seminar and/or laboratory work, and against accidents on the way to and from work. This insurance covers also temporary foreign assignments for which prior permission has been granted by the FWO. For their travels, fellows may use all the usual means of transportation allowed for carrying passengers over water, in the air or on roads, provided they are not part of the crew.

The third-party liability of fellows is covered by a collective insurance policy taken out by the FWO.

CHILD ALLOWANCE

Art. 31.

FWO must be notified of all births. The Foundation will provide the required forms to obtain both the child allowance (*) and the birth premium, which can be requested from the 6th month of the pregnancy.

To preserve their right to child allowance, fellows with dependent children are advised to notify FWO of any travel abroad. During their stay abroad they must also maintain a domicile in Belgium.

* Pursuant to Art. 51 of the Child Allowance Act, persons who are subject to the comprehensive social security scheme are not entitled to child allowance for themselves.

ANNUAL HOLIDAY

Art. 32.

The holiday periods are the same as those indicated in the regulations of the host institution and are established in consultation with the supervisor.

ICM-FWO Fellows shall inform the FWO secretariat of the dates of their annual holidays. The holiday pay, calculated on the basis of the grant of the month of June, will be paid into the holder's account during the month of May.

GENERAL PROVISION

Art. 33.

The years spent at the FWO are recognised as seniority when determining the salary of holders who are appointed at Community or subsidised institutions for secondary and higher education with full curriculum, as well as at Flemish and Federal scientific institutions and ministries.

FINAL PROVISION

Art. 34.

ICM-FWO Fellows may at any time resign their fellowship provided they have notified the head of the host institution, their supervisor and FWO thereof.

27/06/2017

Note: the English version of the regulations are only a translation and have no legal force.