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News vom 29.09.2014

Former junior professors satisfied with their career development

Former junior professors are predominantly satisfied with the development of their academic careers. This is one of the main results of a study carried out by the CHE Centre for Higher Education that, as part of a research project funded by the trade union driven Hans-Böckler Foundation, looks at the career developments of junior professors and how they evaluate this development in comparison to people who achieved their professorships by traditional scientific career paths. Now for the first time, data is available that make it possible to analyse the further career development of people, who have chosen this 2002 in Germany newly implemented qualification track.

Of the 168 former junior professors surveyed, 84 per cent have obtained a professorship, 6 per cent hold other positions in the academic world and 10 per cent have jobs outside the academic world. More than three quarters of those who achieved a professorship are content with the development of their careers. Critical points were temporal load, the lack of being able to combine family and professional life, and insecurity during the academic qualification phase. The Tenure Track is here seen – and is therefore in demand – as an effective tool for improving career planning possibilities as well as reducing the (psychological) burden.

By way of comparison, a survey was carried out among a group of 481 people who were appointed to a professorship in 2002 and later, and who achieved this position in ways other than junior professorships. This specific time frame was selected on the one hand because junior professorships were introduced in Germany in 2002 and on the other hand to create a serious basis for comparison. In the comparison group, the former leaders of junior research groups assessed the development of their careers in a similarly positive way to the former junior professors. Another similarity with the group of former junior professors is that the comparison group also said that research autonomy during the qualification phase was a positive aspect, although the former leaders of junior research groups were slightly more content than the former junior professors.

However, there were contradictory results as far as the significance of the habilitation is concerned. Although the habilitation is still considered significant by many of the professors surveyed, the positive evaluations of the new career paths, in particular the often smooth transition from junior professorships to the profession of university teacher, point in another direction. Indeed, 86.5 per cent of the former junior professors surveyed achieved their subsequent professorships without a habilitation. In addition, a large percentage of the former junior professors has not used up the maximum employment period of six years but found follow-on jobs at an earlier stage.

The CHE analysis is part of a joint research project with the Institute for Higher Education Research (HoF) Halle -Wittenberg. The HoF surveyed junior professors and leaders of junior research groups that are still within the qualification phase. The results of both research teams was presented at a conference in Berlin on 29/30 September 2014. A book will be published in spring 2015.


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