Changes in academic career structures

Tatiana Fumasoli explains how academic career structures are changing in Europe in an interview with Times Higher Education.

The feature article is the cover story of Times Higher Education No. 2 2015.

Governments and institutions have to respond to international competition for researchers and a growing recognition that scientific excellence can spark socio-economic development in a country. And as the number of PhD students across Europe grows, ramping up competition for academic posts, some countries are exploring new ways to open up academia to those who face poor odds of securing a professorship, Fumasoli explains.

She is co-editor of Academic Work and Careers in Europe: Trends, Challenges, Perspectives (2014). The book examines academic careers in eight countries: Austria, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Romania, and Switzerland.

In the feature article of Times Higher Education, Tatiana Fumasoli accounts for the different traditions and local practices in these countries, from the vertical structures organised around dominant professors in Germany, Poland and parts of Switzerland, to more horizontal departmental structures in the UK, Ireland and North America.

The articles moreover looks at the age one achieves academic independence, which also tends to vary considerably across countries. Despite intense competition, academics in the UK and Ireland can secure a permanent contract relatively early, as lecturer or reader. Also in France, academic independence can be won relatively early, whereas in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and Poland, a habilitation (postdoctoral qualification or equivalent) is required before progressing to a professorial post. Other positions will generally be fixed term.   

Fumasoli sees some positive signs: 'The fact that there is more transparency, calls are international and the evaluation [of candidates] is standardised is to the advantage of junior [academics], especially in countries where an academic oligarchy made up of very senior full professors [is in] control', she says.

Read the full article (pdf - only for UiO employees)

How to give the next generation of scholars a career boost, by Holly Else, Times Higher Education, 15-21 January 2015, pp. 36-41.

Published Jan. 27, 2015 3:10 PM - Last modified June 23, 2015 3:49 PM