Report on the meeting JA@UT versus the Central Tenure Track
After the presentation of the JA@UT on the tenure track, a discussion started. The following topics were addressed:
JA@UT is convinced that a start-up package is desirable for new tenure trackers. The central tenure track committee acknowledges the importance of the startup package, and promises to explore the possibilities, but mentions that this can become financially difficult. JA@UT stresses that if the University wants to stimulate talent, this might incur costs.
Equal opportunities and equal motivation are essential. All tenure trackers should be informed of the tenure track policy, the assessments and criteria. The impression of JA@UT is that this is not always the case. Some tenure trackers must "recoup themselves" before they can start on projects relevant to their tenure track agreements. This is not the case for all tenure trackers within the University.
JA@UT also has doubts about how realistic the hard criteria for tenure track is. It is important that the UT provides good facilities which enable people to work freely on their tenure track agreements, produce sufficient publications as first or last authors, and get research projects. The same applies here: these conditions should be available to all tenure trackers, independent of the group they work in.
JA@UT welcomes the fact that the rules guiding the assessment committees and such are becoming formal for the whole UT-organization, but also considers it important that these rules be properly communicated to all tenure trackers.
Finally, the tenure track should become more important by arranging good conditions. Examples include a start-up package, and in addition to optimal facilities also providing: more freedom to work on projects that are not directly related to the tenure track and a guarantee for sufficient research time. These elements should also not be subject to the strategic choices of an individual faculty, institute and / or the UT.
The question is what happens when someone exits the tenure track? In the Netherlands one cannot easily apply for a position at another university. The central tenure track committee is aware of the problem and will explore this issue more closely during the coming period.
The university landscape of the Netherlands is uncomparable with that of the U.S. Dropping out of the tenure track, does not immediately mean that you have new career opportunities.
A tenure track position will become more attractive when, if dropping out of the tenure track, it’s clear what your options are (mostly outside of the UT-organization).
Two important things - coaching and mentoring - are not present within the tenure track at this moment. Tenure trackers need to feel that they can call on their professor (or somebody else) for advice.
The UT has to set up a proper set of regulations regarding extensions of tenure track contracts in case of special circumstances such as pregnancy, serious illness, etcetera. It would be practical to use the regulations and criteria formulated by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) or the European Research Council.