German junior professorship put to scrutiny

A new survey, undertaken by the Junge Akademie, shows grave differences in the organisation of junior professorships.

The survey reveals that there remain substantial disparities in the standards of implementation and appointment of new junior professors. In light of current proposals to establish the “Juniorprofessur” as the “standard path” to acquiring a tenured professorship, the authors of the study call for a harmonisation of standards and an in-house tenure track ban for junior professors.  They maintain that this ban is made necessary by the current practice of awarding up to 50% of all tenured positions to internal candidates.

Grave differences in the appointment processes of junior professors

As the study shows, there are two major differences in the organisation of junior professorships. (1) The share of junior professorships in relation to the entirety of professorships diverges between less than 5% and more than 30%. (2)  The amount of junior professors who received their doctorate at the same institution is at about 20% on average, while it is noticeably higher at some universities, with a proportion of over one third of the professors. Moritz Schularick, one of the three authors, constitutes that “The differences in the appointment process cannot be ascribed to discrepancies in the regulations of the different federal laws of higher education or prioritisation of different disciplines. Instead, it appears to be more of a case of differing concepts in science policy.”

High proportion of women – low tenure track ratio

The survey delves into the appointment practice of junior professors in the years 2005 – 2013 and is backed by information coming from 52 universities with a whole of 1561 junior professors from all federal states. “The relatively high percentage of female junior professors sheds a positive light on the concept, however a grand portion of junior professorships were formed without any formal tenure-track prospect,” says fellow author Jule Specht.

An in-house tenure track ban as prerequisite for raising the international reputation of junior professorships

In light of the substantial discrepancies the authors advise implementing comparable standards for the appointment of junior professors at German universities. Fellow author Sibylle Baumbach ads, “An in-house tenure track ban analogous to that of tenured professorships would contribute to the establishment of a transparent job category that provides access to a tenured position by competitive selection.”

The survey originated within the framework of the interdisciplinary research group “Science Policy” at the Junge Akademie. It is the first comprehensive and systematic study of the current configuration and appointment of junior professorships at German universities. The three authors could call on the assistance from 37 active and past members of the Junge Akademie. The Junge Akademie has monitored the junior professorship with critical interest and statements since its initiation in 2002. The recent publication is the fourth study on the junior professorship.


Moritz Schularick, Jule Specht, Sibylle Baumbach et al., Berufungspraxis bei Juniorprofessuren in Deutschland 2005-2013. Berlin 2015 (ISBN: 978-3-00-050910-0)

Download the survey (in German):

For more information please contact:
Anja Spiller und Dr. Angelika Winnen
Tel.: (030) 203 70-453/-563

The Junge Akademie was founded in 2000 as the first academy in the world specifically dedicated to promoting the next generation of outstanding scholars. Its members stem from all academic disciplines as well as from the arts. Through their projects, members explore the potential and boundaries of interdisciplinary work, seek to create a dialogue between scholarship and society, and bring fresh ideas to the discourse of science policy.
The Junge Akademie is co-owned by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften – BBAW) and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften Leopoldina), with its head office located in Berlin.

One of the founding ideas of the interdisciplinary research group “Science Policy” was to contribute to the discussion what was to succeed the Excellence Initiative, to critically assess propositions and submit their own proposals.

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