Ben Jongbloed. In its recent communication “Supporting Growth and Jobs: An agenda for the modernisation of Europe’s higher education systems”, the European Commission once again urged universities to reform human resources policies – to increase their autonomy around human resources issues and to introduce incentives to reward excellence in teaching and research.
Europe’s universities will need to recruit academics by flexible, open and transparent procedures and to provide them with attractive career prospects. Without a committed and adequately compensated professoriate, universities will find it hard to recruit the best and brightest academics to work for them and to provide the teaching and research that Europe needs in order to be a competitive, knowledge-driven region. When comparing the attractiveness of the academic profession between European countries, salaries are naturally a key place to start.
When we compare European countries such as Italy, the United Kingdom, France, The Netherlands and Germany with the United States, and take into account international differences in purchasing power, Italy displays the widest salary range between entry-level, medium-level and top-level positions. Like the UK, it offers relatively high salaries to senior academics. The UK compares relatively well with the US, judging from the average academic salary. For entry-level positions (for example, assistant professor) the salaries are lower and higher for top-end positions.
French universities are not particularly attractive to foreign professors due to France's national career framework and non-competitive salaries. Hiring is very centralised, with a national screening of candidates by national councils. Until recently, institutional salary policies were not allowed, but this is changing. A bonus system to reward performance in teaching and research has recently been introduced, alongside laws to increase the autonomy of universities and to introduce more differentiation among academics. More...