This Eurydice Brief focuses on the findings of the Eurydice report Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe: Academic Staff – 2017, published in June 2017. Information was gathered by the Eurydice Network in 35 countries. The focus of the data collection was on academic staff working in public and publicly subsidised private higher education institutions (HEIs), with data drawn from top-level regulations or information on large-scale publicly subsidised programmes, but also from other sources, including a range of research and policy reports, as well the outcomes of two qualitative surveys addressed to academic staff trade unions and quality assurance agencies. Statistical information from the UNESCO/OECD/Eurostat (UOE) data collection was also used, along with information from the European Tertiary Education Register (ETER).
The Eurydice report aims to fill the information gap concerning academic staff, which has been paid little attention so far despite the fact that the demands on higher education have been increasing. Building on the 2017 report, this Brief presents some of its main findings focusing on areas of most relevance for policy-making: Similarities and differences in defining academic staff; Human resource policy development; Key characteristics of academic staff; Careers, job security and working conditions; Teaching; Quality assurance and monitoring.
According to the report, staff categories vary from country to country and in average there are 6 to 9 categories, which is more than often assumed. Each of these categories staff may be employed on fixed term or indefinite contracts, may or may not be required to hold particular qualifications, and may have teaching and/or research defined as primary tasks. Furthermore, many systems lack high level mid- and long-term planning of academic staff needs. As for the gender issue, overall the share of female academic staff is increasing, but women remain under-represented in most countries (especially in higher ranking academic positions). Finally, some countries face challenges of renewal of academic staff, particularly those with a large share of older academic staff. Also when it comes to internationalisation, data vary, with some countries having very few foreign academic staff, and other employing much larger numbers.