Faculty cancels tenure tracks

Science: 65 researchers to get permanent contracts

Buys Ballotgebouw
The Buys Ballot building, which hosts the Faculty of Science. Photo: DUB

Through the tenure track structure, the faculty agreed with young, talented researchers that they would be hired permanently within three to five years, as long as their performance was satisfactory. This construction was introduced in 2017.

According to the Faculty Board, there are many reasons for converting these appointments to permanent contracts with almost immediate effect. Experience has shown that almost all teaching researchers hired on a tenure-track basis end up getting a permanent contract in the end.

Additionally, the memorandum sent to the faculty council stresses that academia has a tendency of letting employees know what to expect about the future as soon as possible — no wonder the negotiations for the next collective labour agreement (Dutch acronym: CAO) have involved many discussions about whether tenure tracks should still exist. 

Higher position
One of the most relevant considerations being made is that the contracts signed are often not in accordance with the CAO, which states that employees should get a higher position as they receive a permanent contract. 

In practice, the memorandum continues, what usually happens at the Faculty of Science — and other universities as well — is that a tenure tracker starts as an assistant professor level 2 and then becomes an assistant professor level 1 once they get a permanent contract. But that's not what the CAO says should happen.

According to the CAO's text, a tenure tracker that joins a university as an assistant professor should be hired permanently as an associate professor. They should be promoted to a higher position, not a higher level within their position. The current practice will be tolerated for now.

This means that 55 tenure trackers will get a permanent contract as of April 1, as long as they've been evaluated positively. The remaining 10 tenure trackers joined the university not so long ago, but they too will be offered permanent contracts in due course if their assessment is favourable.

Development process
The Faculty of Science still thinks that a development process can be extremely attractive for talented researchers, which is why the tenure track is going to be replaced with a development track.

From now on, assistant professors are going to be hired in accordance with the CAO rules, which means they will be offered a permanent contract after 18 months. New assistant professors will then have three years of support in developing skills considered necessary for an academic year.

As for the 65 tenure trackers about to get permanent contracts, the agreements they made in terms of personal development are going to be converted to the new development track.