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4. Juinior Professorship

The newly created career pathway of junior professor offers young academics the opportunity to acquire the qualifications for a full professorial appointment through autonomous work on their own responsibility. Heidelberg University would like to make use of the freedom in devising the junior professorship that the legislator has allowed the universities, so that this pathway will also prove itself in international competitive.

In order to guarantee the competitiveness of the junior professorship it is necessary to

  • guarantee the institutional autonomy of junior professors,
  • make the evaluation procedure and performance criteria transparent,
  • open up long-term career prospects for junior professors,
  • limit teaching duties and committee work, and to
  • allocate the necessary financial and staff resources.

The details of the junior professorship shall be laid down in a qualification plan. This is an agreement between the junior professor, the faculty (in agreement with the unit that provides the funding) and the University. The qualification plan sets out what is expected of the parties concerned and the necessary general conditions.

4.1 Guaranteeing autonomy

The high degree of autonomy is a key quality feature of junior professorships. The job profile should therefore correspond to that of a normal professorship and not that of the previous assistant professor positions. Junior professors should not be designed as part of existing hierarchical structures. In order to be able to establish their own research profile, junior professorships should also be used in fields lending themselves to self-sufficient research and teaching. The qualification plan must contain an appropriate job description guaranteeing the competitiveness of the junior professor. Junior professorships must not be tied into an existing professorship. If they are integrated into a research project they must have a recognisable role as a partner with equal rights.

The career pathway of a junior professorship and an accompanied habilitation are mutually exclusive.

4.2 Performance criteria and evaluation procedures

In order to be able to work in a focused and efficient way, junior professors must be aware, from the start, of the procedure and criteria by which they are to be evaluated. The evaluation procedure shall be established in a statute applicable to the whole university. In the interest of junior professors, external opinions should be obtained in every case of evaluation. The criteria for the interim and final evaluation (generally after three or six years) shall be laid down in the qualification plan. This will include, on the one hand, what is expected of the junior professor in research, teaching, committee work and in-service training. On the other hand, the qualification plan shall contain the general conditions necessary to fulfil these expectations, which the faculties (including the unit providing the budgetary funds) and the university are obliged to provide.

4.3 Long-term career prospects

The University must hold out long-term career prospects to excellent young academics in order to be able to attract them to take up a junior professorship. Therefore the qualification plan should also stipulate the circumstances under which the assumption of a tenure-track professorship is possible. The granting of a tenure-track option shall be stipulated in the qualification plan. If his/her interim evaluation shows a junior professor to be particularly good, a tenure-track option can also be subsequently included in the qualification plan. Heidelberg University wishes to equip some of the junior professorships with a tenure-track option. To that end, at least five percent of new professorships are in future to be advertised as junior professorships with a tenure-track option. In addition, the Heisenberg Programme of the German Research Foundation (DFG) is to be used for fast-track appointments to full professorships.

4.4 Responsibilities in teaching and committee work


Junior professors must have enough time to develop their own research profile and to advance their scholarly and professional qualifications. That is why their responsibilities in teaching and committee work need to be limited. Junior professors at Heidelberg University will be allowed to take off a semester for research purposes as do full professors - however, at the earliest one year after the interim evaluation. The teaching commitments of junior professors shall, on average, constitute four contact hours per week during the semester, in addition to an appropriate participation in examinations. They shall not be more involved in committee work than the other professors at their department. Other services may only be required of them to the extent usual for the other professors at the department. The qualification plan must contain detailed information in this regard.

4.5 Financial, personnel and technical conditions

Junior professors must be adequately equipped to be able to perform their tasks effectively. The financial and staffing conditions shall therefore be established in the qualification plan and regarded as a binding promise. Providing junior professorships with assistants and student staff shall be settled in the negotiations on the qualification plan. Junior professors shall be able to use laboratories and secretarial assistance to an appropriate degree, and also to be personally responsible for a share in the budgetary funds of the department.

Email: Editor
Latest Revision: 2012-11-06
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