Session 2: How to become a professor?

Session 2 (Afternoon, in English) 13:45 – 18:00 Uhr:

Exploring Difference: How to become a professor? Career Paths in Higher Education

The series International Dialogue on Education is a joint initiative of the British Council, the German Academic Ex­change Service (DAAD), the German-American Fulbright Commission, the Embassy of Canada in Germany and Freie Universität Berlin. Through the contributions of international participants the series aims to enrich the debate on science, research and higher education policy in Germany, to place German perspectives in a global context and to learn from positive examples from other countries.

The thirteenth conference in the ID-E Berlin series will focus on typical – and exceptional – career tracks for academics within different higher education systems. The discussions will address the following topics and questions:

1)  Comparison of systems: professorship and academic careers at higher education institutions in the USA, in Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany

  • What does the tenure track system / career structure look like in different countries? In each respective system of higher education, which one is the normal way to professorship, meaning the way to a permanent position in which one can practice research independently? How is this “target position” designed and equipped? How many professorial positions and tenure-track positions are there (also compared to PhD-students and postdocs)?
  • Which preliminary and intermediate stages does the system offer in this regard? Which promotion opportunities and diverse job profiles are there for the academic personnel?
  • When and how will the decisions for an admission or a promotion of (or even a departure from) the academic/research career be made? Which mechanisms of assistance, consultation and support are included in the system?

2)  Challenges

  • Drop out: What happens to people whose career does not end in an independent, permanent position? How should we deal with young researchers who do not qualify for a career after their PhD/Postdoc, fail at an early stage or are frustrated because they are occupying indefinitely a non-independent position, whether permanent or temporary?
  • Quantitative proportion: How can the ratio between the contender for an academic career (PhD students, Postdocs) and the insecure positions be regulated and influenced? What are the greatest challenges for the university in managing the expectations of PhD students, and how can the University do a better job of informing PhD students about career planning and providing them with opportunities?
  • How does the higher education system prepare its young academics and scientists for alternative career paths inside the higher education institution (management, non-independent positions) or outside in the economy? What options for career paths in higher education exist, both inside and out of the faculty? How do economy and industry recruit their researchers and scientists? Can universities compete with industry in terms of career opportunities?

3)  Outlook and conclusions for the domestic debate

  • How can the individual career path to a professorship/independent permanent position be designed in a more rational and transparent way? Which kind of strategic, structural and staff-related concepts are there – within each institution and in higher education policies?
  • How can the university, government and other stakeholders ensure that the best find their way into academia? What do universities look for in an ideal faculty member?
  • How does the personnel policy have to be in order to attract young international academics for a scientific career in a country?

Drawing on examples from their own education systems and institutions, a detailed understanding of the different challenges and new developments in HE career paths and personnel development will be elicited from our experts from the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America, France, and Germany.