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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Seeking Time to Get Tenure
28 January 2002 (All day)
A German law awaiting the president's signature is upsetting academics and prompting protests at a major German university. The law, which was approved by parliament in December, would impose strict limits on the time taken by academics to complete their doctoral studies and win tenure at a university. However, if it passes, thousands of untenured faculty could face difficulties in getting their contracts renewed.
Currently, aspiring German academics face some time limits on tenure-seeking and temporary research contracts, but a switch to a different university or institution resets that clock to zero. The revised law makes the clock cumulative, giving academics a total of 12 years to attain a Ph.D. and permanent university employment; the limit is 15 years for those in the medical sciences. The German government wants to prevent universities from keeping researchers on an endless string of short-term contracts, which it claims to be socially irresponsible. Researchers who have not been able to find permanent posts within the qualification period would have to try to extend their contracts under general employment law or leave.
Untenured academics say the law is unrealistic because many academics in Germany don't secure a permanent position within 12 or 15 years. They also expect that if the law comes into force unmodified, universities will not extend many of the temporary research contracts when they run out. So on 27 January, faculty members at the University of Bielefeld stopped teaching their classes and launched a week of protests.
The administration of Bielefeld University, where a very high proportion of academics would be affected by the new law, has called for a transition mechanism that will ease the pressure on those researchers. Nevertheless, Dieter Timmermann, head of Bielefeld's governing board, supports the law because it is expected to simplify the administration of the universities and create clearer distinction between the qualification term of young researchers and those carrying out research on temporary contracts.