“The academic career track gives you certainty about your future at an earlier stage.”(Photo: Dalia Madi)
“The academic career track gives you certainty about your future at an earlier stage." (Photo: Dalia Madi)

TU Delft will replace the five year tenure track by an eight year academic career track as of 1 May. Academic staff members will get a permanent contract sooner.

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In the current tenure track policy, academics progress to the position of Assistant Professor 1 (UD1) within five years, After that, they usually get a permanent contract. As of May, the track will last up to eight years. This track applies to both new employees as well as current tenure trackers, unless the latter don't want so. Academics involved will get a permanent contract after 12 (in current contracts) or 18 months (in case they are new employees). This should remove the uncertainty about the duration of their employment. The Executive Board decided on these changes at the beginning of March.

In the extra three years that the academic career track will last at the most, academics can also develop into the position of Associate Professor (UHD). Before this change, this position was not part of the track.

The introduction was originally planned for 1 March, but was delayed twice, first to 1 April and then to 1 May. “This gives the organisation time to organise administrative procedures such as recruitment and the letters to new personnel,” says Policy Advisor Meike Blokland. HR is also providing information to supervisors and is updating all the information websites.

It is an illusion to make just one system for this.”

What do the current tenure trackers think of the change? What does it mean for them? Ruud Kortlever, Assistant Professor of Large Scale Energy Storage at 3mE, is coming to the end of his tenure track. He does not believe the new rules to be more flexible by definition, even though the academic career track can formally take less than eight years too. He believes that this is because supervisors often interpret the rules cautiously. “Now everyone follows the same path, while not everyone is equally driven by money, research or teaching. It is an illusion to make just one system for this.”

Blokland recognises these concerns from her discussions with the Delft Young Academy, a group of young TU Delft academics. “The idea is that supervisors look at each person individually to see what is needed. If someone can grow to a UHD position in less than eight years, this should be an option. The other side of the coin is that it is good to take the time and space to develop as an academic.”

Blokland also stresses that the faculties can choose where to place the emphasis. “For example, Assistant Professors often progressed to Associate Professor more quickly at the Faculty of Applied Sciences (AS) than at other faculties. The space is there now too.”

Certainty in an earlier stage
Cees Haringa, Assistant Professor of Bioprocess Engineering, is one of the Delft Young Academy members. He works at AS and is positive on the whole. “Having a permanent contract takes away the worries. It gives you certainty about your future.”

Jazmin Zatarain Salazar, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management wonders if this will attract more international academics to TU Delft. “I was interested in a tenure track as I was familiar with it from the United States. It gives you five years to create a research and lesson plan and can lead to a permanent job.” She believes that if there is a clear selection after 12 or 18 months, this will change. “The academic career track may then be viewed as a short temporary contract, so it is important to communicate clearly. TU Delft needs to make it clear to international academics that it actually gives greater job security than the tenure track.” ”

The TU current has 432 tenure trackers on contract. They will also transition to the new academic career track, unless they do not want to. TU Delft will make tailored agreements with them after 1 May. In principle, staff members may retain their tenure track contracts, says Blokland. “It is accepted legally.” 

  • More information on the academic career track can be found on the intranet.