Tenure track

Professors’ fair tenure track

Various tenure track systems for professors are in place in the universities and in some state research institutes. According to the Finnish Union of University Professors’ position, recruitment shall concern all levels of tenure track equally, the level of full professor included.

A professor’s position is filled by a public application process, or by invitation. Legislation and collective agreements do not recognise a professor’s tenure track. The Universities Act shall be amended with statues concerning the tenure track leading up to the professorship. Additionally, the discrepancy between the professors’ tenure track and labour legislation shall be resolved.

For the tenure-track to be fair, it must follow the criteria below:

1. The university is using a public and clear description of the application process and the advancement on the tenure track.

2. All applicants shall be evaluated during a recruitment process. If only those deemed most qualified, the so-called shortlist, are being evaluated, the evaluation must concern at least three applicants.

3. The employment contract of the recruited states the assessment criteria, under which his/her success will be evaluated.

4. Those on the tenure track are being treated non-discriminately and equally.

5. During the contractual employment relationship, the employment contract of the person on the tenure track can be altered by a common agreement only.

6. Those on the tenure track are given sufficient information on how they can advance their career through their work and achievements.

7. Those on the tenure track are provided with a genuine opportunity to manage those tasks that will be used as the basis for the evaluation of their success.

8. The advancement of those on the tenure track will be reviewed on an annual basis, for example, in connection with performance assessments.

9. The salary of a person on the professors’ tenure track shall match the requirement of the job and his/her personal performance, and it will develop accordingly as the person advances on the tenure track.

10. The evaluation shall appropriately consider scientific/artistic activity, teaching merits, and social interaction. In the assessment of scientific activity, the principles of responsible research assessment, such as, for example, the DORA Declaration (San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment) and the national recommendation for a responsible research assessment

11. Upon achieving the goals specified in the employment contract, an individual can advance on the tenure track faster than originally planned.

12. Those on the professors’ tenure track may, based on a legitimate reason (for example, family leave), be granted an extension in order to secure the merits required.

13. A minimum of two experts shall be invited to issue a statement on the qualifications and merits of an individual on the tenure track prior to the individual’s selection to a professor’s position.

14. Those recruited to a tenure-track position shall be provided with an opportunity to receive supervision and support for their work.

15. In the case the person on the professors’ tenure track does not meet with the criteria predetermined together, the university shall take care of the fair continuation of the career.

Where applicable, this instruction is to be used in state research institutes as well.

Approved by the Finnish Union of University Professors’ Board on December 10, 2021.

Advice for individuals in the professor’s tenure track system

The universities each have launched their different tenure track systems. Both the number of levels in the tenure track as well as the titles vary from one university to another. The involvement of both external and internal evaluation in various levels has been determined in individual university based instructions. On the recruitment level, the universities may ask external evaluation regarding only those in the shortlist. On tenure, a selection procedure according to the Universities’ Act will be used.

Below you will find some general instructions:

Evaluation criteria: The criteria, through which your progress will be evaluated, should be specified in your job agreement. In some universities, there is a separate attachment regarding the evaluation criteria. The most common sections are research/artistic work, teaching, activity within the academic community, the procurement of research funding and management skills.

Job description: Make sure that you can take care of the tasks through which your evaluation takes place. The universities have prepared some general instructions regarding the direction of worktime throughout the various levels on the professor’s tenure track.

Position/status in the academic community: Find out which personnel group you belong to within the university.

Salary: The collective agreement is the so-called minimum agreement regarding your salary. Your salary according to the collective agreement may be increased, while not decreased, through the employment contract. Individuals in the professor’s tenure track system (not including Aalto University) belong to the universities’ salary system (YPJ). When needed, you may contact the union regarding your salary.

Agreement regarding the immaterial property rights: see the union instructions

Fixed-term employment: Should you be unable to move forward on the tenure track, please contact the union.

Articles and reports

Siekkinen Taru, Pekkola Elias & Kujala Emmi-Niina (2022): Professoreiden muuttuvat rekrytoinnit ja sen vaikutukset yliopistoissa

Siekkinen Taru, Pekkola Elias & Kivistö Jussi (2016) Recruitments in Finnish universities: practicing strategic or pathetic HRM?

Pietilä Maria (2018): Making Finnish universities complete organisations : Aims and tensions in establishing tenure track and research profiles. Väitöskirja. Helsingin yliopisto.

Pietilä Maria (2017): Incentivising academics: experiences and expectations of the tenure track in Finland. Studies in Higher Education.

Pietilä Maria (2015): Tenure track career system as a strategic instrument for academic leaders. European Journal of Higher Education.

Välimaa Jussi, Stenvall Jari, Siekkinen Taru, Pekkola Elias, Kivistö Jussi, Kuoppala Kari, Nokkala Terhi, Aittola Helena & Ursin Jai (2016): Neliportaisen tutkijanuramallin arviointihanke. Loppuraportti. OKM:n julkaisuja 2016:15.

LERU (2014): Tenure and Tenure Track at LERU Universities: Models for attractivr research careers in Europe. Advice Paper.