Good education costs money

If the German science system wants to play an international role, we need better and more predictable career paths for the next generation of doctorates. That costs money – but it would be well invested. A guest post.

Became a professor at the age of 31: Jens Südekum.  He teaches economics in Düsseldorf.

Dhis communicative shot by the Federal Ministry of Research backfired completely. Minister Anja Karliczek’s team had put a short explanatory video about the Science Time Contract Act – in short: WissZeitVG – online. There it is defended that the academic staff at universities below the professorship generally only has fixed-term employment contracts. It should be a maximum of 6 years until the doctorate. Anyone who then continues their academic career as a post-doc or junior professor has another 6 years at their disposal. By then at the latest you have to have reached a lifetime professorship – or you have to leave. A further connection contract is excluded after 12 years. This ensures that there is always enough fluctuation. Or in the style of the video: that older employees do not “clog” the jobs for the younger generation.

What a horrible picture! The WissZeitVG as a laxative that washes people out of the university who did not make it through the narrow neck of the bottle in time. Because the coveted professorships do not exist like a dime a dozen and the appointment procedures often drag on for years. And so it happens that hundreds of those affected speak up and accuse the ministry of sheer cynicism. They gather on social media under the hashtag #IchbinHanna, a fictional young scientist who is currently running on the hamster wheel of the academic precariat. She keeps the business of research and teaching going at the university, somehow reconciles that with her own further qualification and always has the sword of Damocles called WissZeitVG hanging over her.