News Precarious working conditions at the university: fear of the...

Precarious working conditions at the university: fear of the academic demolition – knowledge

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Jule Specht stands on the roof of the Academy of Sciences at the Berlin Gendarmenmarkt. Her eyes go towards Humboldt University, where she is a professor of psychology. "Yes, I am glad that it worked," says Specht, lifting her wineglass into the evening sky. The 33-year-old looks as relieved as if she had just taken the hurdle to permanent professorship with Ach and noise. Specht is a highly successful hurdler – still a student assistant in Münster until 2010, she is doing her doctorate in 2011, 2012 Junior Professor at the Free University of Berlin and three years ago on a permanent W3 job to the HU appointed.

Woodpecker was recently released from the Junge Akademie, in all honor, of course: she has been a member of the Young Forge founded almost 20 years ago in Berlin for five years, was their spokeswoman. Now she is one of the ten alumni who make room for the newcomers. They too are at the beginning of a hopeful scientific career – in global history, mathematics or medicine. Can you leave the nerve-wracking time of precarious jobs behind in the foreseeable future?


A shoulder-tapping "You've done it now" would rather annoy, says Marion Schulte to Berge, the director of the Junge Akademie. Almost always loud the answer: "There is still no guarantee, even if one is still so good." So thinks even a freshly recorded humanities scholar who has recently won a junior professorship at the TU Berlin. "All right, but unfortunately without a tenure track," she commented soberly at the bar table. So without automatic transfer to a permanent professorship, if the work of the junior woman is assessed positively.

It's enough with the tests

This probation is promised in the federal program for 1000 junior professorships, but of the existing 1700 conventional junior professions only very few have a tenure track. And if the country finances then really give the transition to the 1000 additional jobs, is observed suspicious.

It's enough for her to pass the test, the Berlin TU junior professor says. With this she expresses what the "junior" powers between the mid-30s and mid-40s are doing at universities and non-university institutions in Germany. What does the young scientific community want instead – for around 145,000 academic staff nationwide? This is currently being discussed in the social media. "Politics must FINALLY ensure that stops for the scientific Mittelbau the chain of fear of the future, constant recruitment of third-party funds and the resulting short-term of life and research!" Tweets a historian from Heidelberg. A colleague from Hamburg writes: The "logic of snappers in contracts" contradicts the scientific logic – "because ideas take time (and, what does a scientist do on a 2-year contract?) She looks for a new job)".

Among the nonprofessional scientists up to the age of 45, 93 percent are employed on a temporary basis. Of these, half have contracts for less than one year, as the Federal Report on Young Scientists 2017 showed. At the same time, the number of scientific employees has more than doubled since the turn of the third-party funds project since the turn of the millennium.

Highly qualified people have to go

The fear of the "demolition edge" is reversed, and the Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz of 2016 has hardly changed that. Thus, universities and non-university students are required to adjust the duration of the desired qualification – first and foremost a doctorate or habilitation – or, in the case of employees in third-party funded projects, the project duration. This would put an end to short-term contracts because a doctoral program runs for at least three years. It is similar in research projects.

Although it is now apparent that "extremely short chain contracts have become rarer," says Andreas Keller, vice chairman of the Education and Science union. But the universities continued to shy off the transition to permanent employment. Instead, they would resort to the Part-Time and Time-Limits Act, which allows for a non-material reason such as the qualification phase – but only for two years. This leads to "highly qualified people have to go in the middle of the family start-up phase," criticized Keller. "The universities do not care, they want to burden the employees the risk of a scientific career to 100 percent."

Research and teaching suffer from time limitations

New urgency was the debate, as the base campaign "deadline is frustration" in the spring did not bring the hoped-for breakthrough. The new "Future Treaty" by the federal and state governments for additional study places and higher graduation rates states that the higher education institutions should be able to create more permanent jobs in teaching with the additional additional four billion per year. But the coupling of permanent funding into the required by the unions and the network for good work in the science did not take place. Each country negotiates its scope in a target agreement with the federal government. And that fitting for each individual university, as the President of the German Rectors' Conference (HRK), Peter-André Alt emphasized. The fixed employment rates are between 20 and 50 percent, whereby the HRK has basically agreed to take action against the primacy of the time limits.

However, this is upheld by many university directors and other science managers: A high proportion of permanent positions below the professorship leads to the ossification of the middle management. This must be constantly renewed in order to remain scientifically creative and productive. Anne Krüger, a staff member at the German Center for Higher Education and Science Research, contradicts this: "It is incomprehensible how the ideology of fixed-term employment could prevail." Research and teaching would suffer if students had to adapt to new caregivers. And often not just innovative research, said Krüger now at the Free University in front of young scientists from the career program "profile" of the three major Berlin universities. All that matters is to make the next application and meet its requirements.

Opportunities for doctoral candidates below 30 percent

At the same time, the Mittelbau depends to a great extent on the professorships to which it is subordinate. Because the jobholders are "superiors, project managers, supervisors and reviewers in personal union," as Tilman Reitz, a sociologist of knowledge at the University of Jena, explained at the profile event. Scientific staff also handle two thirds of university teaching. With strongly increasing numbers of students, with which the state expenditure for the universities does not keep pace, the formula in Germany loudly: "increased load plus precariousness of academic work equal exploitation", says Reitz. And calls for the "unrestrained recruitment and disposal of junior scientists" to stop. Currently, the chances of doctoral students staying permanently in science are "unacceptable" below 30 percent. Unsurprisingly, the question of where the ideal ratio is lies between those affected and employers. The radical demand that is not only raised by Tilman Reitz: "After graduation, permanent employment must be the rule." Model experiments aimed at improving the conditions in favor of the planning of science careers are between 30 percent – so many permanent jobs should it take a Berlin agreement – and 50 percent.

Thus, while it is a way to create significantly more permanent positions for "permanent tasks" in teaching and research below the professorship, the Junge Akademie takes far higher: In a department structure that must replace the chair principle with dependent on the professorship scientific staff, should all budget-financed middle construction sites are converted into tenure-track professorships. "Then there is no status issue and everyone can research and teach on an equal basis," says Jule Specht, 2017 co-author of a paper on department structure, on the profile podium at the FU.

What is the solution?

Is this the best way to give young scientists a clear perspective on remaining at university right after graduation? Who does not succeed on such a junior professorship with probation, can turn in the late 20, early 30's another career. So far, the successive deadlines under the still-current 12-year rule – six years before and six years after graduation – have pushed this decision so far back that mid-40s will fall out of the system after a subsequent project phase without an adequate alternative ,

What is the solution? Three models are finally under discussion. A tenure track for everyone, who guarantees good people in the middle-class the continued employment, as GEW demands. A job category below the professorship as the Lecturer, the many postdocs want, but reject the unions as a career dead end. And the junior professorship with probation for all who can stay at the university. "Can not there simply be a professorship that means staying in science for the long term, not just becoming the Sun King," says Specht. The new generation may wish for such models: "The professors are used to their followers, they were able to top up and do not want to give them away," says Tilman Reitz.

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