Appropriate recognition should be given to all activities performed by academics, says Yerun
The EU should take a broad approach to supporting academic careers that encompasses and recognises all of their varied activities, a group of European universities has said.
In a position paper released on 1 June, the Young European Research Universities Network said that research often “comes first” in the assessment of academic careers.
But academics do not only do research, Yerun pointed out, as they also teach, hold administrative and leadership positions, contribute to research commercialisation and engage with society.
“Academics undertake a number of activities and responsibilities beyond research which should be appropriately recognised,” Yerun said.
Lack of synergies
The group was responding to a European Commission consultation on developing a European Framework for Sustainable and Attractive Careers in Higher Education. It supports the framework and welcomes the consultation, but said both should be better linked with a parallel Framework on Research Careers which is being developed by a different Commission department.
“The process unfortunately reinforces the lack of synergies between education and research policies, and it constitutes yet another signal that research comes first in the design and assessment of academic careers,” Yerun said.
Academics should not be asked to excel in all activities, it added: rather, career assessment should allow for different career paths to emerge.
According to the group, it is a “struggle” for academics to spend time on teaching because assessment of their professional performance rests heavily on bibliometrics, attracted funding and project management.
There needs to be a “rebalance” in the assessment of research and teaching, Yerun said.
Assessment of teaching should avoid “too simple quantitative solutions like counting the number of hours or years of teaching, in favour of qualitative appraisal of the adequacy of teaching”, it added.
Yerun praised the work of the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment—an EU-led initiative to improve how research assessment is carried out—but said it should be “broadened” to all dimensions of an academic career.
Universities remain largely underfunded, Yerun added, and called for public authorities to work more closely with them to improve the regulatory and funding conditions in which careers develop.