Is it difficult to become an online professor?

Why is it so difficult to become a professor?

Why is it so difficult to become a professor?
Hello everybody,

In many of the posts I noticed how difficult it is to get a permanent position in the university sector. Apparently also in areas that are not really overcrowded (e.g. mathematics or physics).

Now I ask myself why that is, because apparently it is quite "easy" to get a PhD position and then find a temporary postdoc. But why are these postdocs then shown outside the door after several fixed-term contracts?

Don't you need more professors when student numbers keep reaching new highs and old professors are retiring?

Is it again due to insufficient budgets or is there really such a small need for professors? And was it the same in the past, or was it easier to get a permanent professorship in the past?

VG Max
Re: Why is it so difficult to become a professor?
There aren't that many places
The other day we added up that there are only 2.5 academic staff at the didactic English professorships throughout Bavaria (it's LONG to become a professor) + 3 or 4 professors ...
At my chair, there are over 25 employees, only 1.5 permanent positions, etc.,
the universities simply don't do that and rely on third-party funding and temporary positions. You can only remain (steadfast) if you constantly provide performance in the form of money.



Edited 1 time. Last on 04/11/2018 12:28 PM.
Re: Why is it so difficult to become a professor?
Snowed by You can only remain (steadfast) if you constantly provide performance in the form of money.
Isn't that counterproductive? That promotes short-term research for the private sector and hinders long-term research that only has a breakthrough after decades or produces something that does not directly serve the economy ...

Shouldn't the money provided by the state be enough? When even universities of excellence like TUM get sponsored by Lidl, I ask myself how big the gap is between needs and budget and why a country like Germany does not increase the budget for universities, because education is on every election campaign agenda

But maybe I'm too naive and idealistic ^^
aldante  📅 11.04.2018 12:53:37
Re: Why is it so difficult to become a professor?
Even in a subject like math there is every year much more completed doctorates than new professorships to be filled. That's the problem.

Postdocs are used by the existing professors as cheap labor to carry out their own research. That is why the universities are so keen that there are as many doctorates as possible.

In the USA, where there are proportionally far fewer doctorates, science is at least honest enough to deal with the topic of overbidding for doctoral candidates, see e.g. https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2016/nsf16300/digest/nsf16300. pdf Such an honest discussion has still not started in Germany.

Also to consider: Just because someone wants to study does not mean that it also makes sense for the economy as a whole for that person to study. I would argue that Germany is already producing far more university graduates than the labor market can use.

And a Lidl endowed professor in business administration or engineering will most likely do more serious scientific work than someone on a taxpayer-financed gender studies professorship ... State-funded research is always subject to all the ideological constraints of the time.



Edited 1 time. Last on 04/11/2018 13:02.
Guest Writer  📅 11.04.2018 13:36:42
Re: Why is it so difficult to become a professor?
From Max_BWL-Student Hello everybody,

In many of the posts I noticed how difficult it is to get a permanent position in the university sector. Apparently also in areas that are not really overcrowded (e.g. mathematics or physics).

Now I ask myself why that is, because apparently it is quite "easy" to get a PhD position and then find a temporary postdoc. But why are these postdocs then shown outside the door after several fixed-term contracts?

Don't you need more professors when student numbers keep reaching new highs and old professors are retiring?

Is it again due to insufficient budgets or is there really such a small need for professors? And was it the same in the past, or was it easier to get a permanent professorship in the past?

VG Max
There are several reasons:

1- Increasing number of doctoral students:
The number of doctoral students is increasing rapidly worldwide. On the one hand, more and more students are studying and, on the other hand, the relative number of those who do their doctorate after graduation is also increasing.

2- The number of professors is increasing or the number of professors is increasing relatively slowly:
The number of professorships is increasing relatively slowly. Sometimes even slower than the number of students. Because the budget of the universities is very limited, especially in Germany. The state invests very little in universities and the possibilities for universities in Germany to expand their sources of finance are also very limited (no tuition fees, restrictions on cooperation e.g. with the armaments industry, political mismanagement ...). Education and research play a very subordinate role in German politics: the Federal Minister for Education and Research is a trained hotel specialist !!!

3- Poor support and misuse of the workforce of the next generation of scientists:
Many research institutions, especially at German universities (less in non-university research institutions) prefer cheap inexperienced doctoral students (instead of senior scientists) who are hired for a limited period and who are dependent on their professor and are willing to take on many other tasks that are not related to their research and doctorate are useful (teaching, responsibility for a device in the laboratory, various reports and supervision, ...). This leads to an increase in the number of people in science, whereby the poor qualifications of the doctoral students mean that they work less efficiently than experienced scientists.

4- Non-transparent selection processes and non-objective selection procedures (at least in the German academic community):
Receiving a professorship has to do not only with performance, but with many other factors (e.g. networking, politics, relationships, ...) that doctoral students have little idea about and wonder why they later empty despite hard work and very good performance go out and have no prospects in the scientific community. There are no standardized exams for professorial positions, so the selection is not objective (any selection made by humans is a subjective selection and not entirely fair). There are also many non-performance factors to consider when choosing professors. This lack of transparency makes it more difficult for those who are not familiar with the academia system to be successful (through performance and hard work alone).

By the way, physics may not be overcrowded as a degree, but getting a professorship in a physics faculty is significantly more difficult than probably any other faculty, because on the one hand physics is a research-oriented degree (you usually study physics in order to do research later as a scientist) and - As far as I know - apart from chemistry, no other degree program in Germany has a higher percentage of graduates than in physics. Even many post-doctoral physicists have to wait in vain for a professorship until they retire.
Re: Why is it so difficult to become a professor?
From unknownWhen even universities of excellence like TUM get sponsored by Lidl, I ask myself how big the gap is between needs and budget and why a country like Germany does not increase the budget for universities, because education is on every election campaign agenda
You're getting it wrong.

Version 1:
you have a great idea and need money for resources and jobs.
You ask and yes, it could also be Lidl, who then finance it because they promise something from research.
It is research anyway.
Variant 2:
Someone, e.g. Lidl, writes out funds that you can apply for.
This also results in research and jobs.

Replace Lidl with BFBF or BAMF or Siemens, Mercator ...
completely irrelevant.
It works like this and not otherwise. Our physicists here work a lot for / with Audi ... how else should research be financed?
And only those who land orders, i.e. secure payment for their position, are allowed to stay. If the costs remain at the university, after the first time limit, if you have not proven yourself (i.e. you have also got money during that time or helped the professor to get money), the university ends. You have to be able to establish yourself up to a maximum of 12 years, i.e. academically: become a professor or economically - by constantly getting money, if you haven't made it by then, your university is finally over.
Universities are tough business enterprises with the need for networking.
Re: Why is it so difficult to become a professor?
From aldante Even in a subject like math there is every year much more completed doctorates than new professorships to be filled. That's the problem.

Postdocs are used by the existing professors as cheap labor to carry out their own research. That is why the universities are so keen that there are as many doctorates as possible.
Thanks for the contribution, Aldante, but as I can see from the article, the need for professors would be higher if the postdoc game was limited or stopped.

"PhD" oversupply "is just a euphemistic way of talking about the fact that colleges and universities haven’t met student-generated demand with a commensurate supply of full-time, tenure-track faculty."

Therefore, the question arises again why the state is watching young academics being forced into precarious working conditions instead of providing them with the means to advance their own research as professors, which might even be more lucrative ... Would be financially for him State whose economy is based on knowledge is feasible.

I would not subscribe to the fact that Germany really produces more graduates than the market can use. If you take graduates and trainees together, the rate remains constant. It only leads to more academics performing tasks from former apprentices for the same pay. That is not wise, but it is still needed, even if only as an "apprentice substitute".

And to the last point: do you really mean serious or rather lucrative?
Please do not get me wrong, I am not a friend of gender studies, as most publications in this area are neither cited nor read, but most of them are serious, i.e. based on scientific standards.

// The quote comes from the old link, which was removed by aldante



Edited 1 time. Last on 04/11/2018 2:08 PM.
Re: Why is it so difficult to become a professor?
Snowed by Universities are tough business enterprises with the need for networking.
But why? Wouldn't it be better for research if it were independent, free and funded by the state?

Because privately financed research is certainly also research, but I wonder whether research will be carried out in all directions.