Academics should get new job descriptions

November 14, 2003

French academics' responsibilities and areas of work should be more precisely defined, a report commissioned by education minister Luc Ferry has recommended.

The monolithic structure governing academics' status, which dates back to 1984, should be broken down, says the report by Bernard Belloc, president of Toulouse-1 University. The work done by university teachers and researchers, who all take the combined job title enseignant-chercheur should be divided into three categories.

Academics' work would be divided into teaching; research (including supervision of theses); and other activities that would be spelled out (these could include supervision of teaching staff, organisational work or setting up international programmes). The report recommends more systematic and rigorous evaluation of academics, many of whom "are practically never evaluated for their research", and proposes three levels of research certification from standard to superior.

Mr Belloc, a former president of the Conference of University Presidents (CPU), says pay is low and those who work beyond the call of duty, as laid down, should be paid extra, and that the present system of bonuses should be replaced by a more motivational one.

Mr Ferry is awaiting advice before launching discussions on the report, and the CPU has not yet formulated an official view.

But SNESUP, the majority union representing enseignant-chercheurs , said the proposals could lead to a "break-up of their profession and their status".

It said the proposals "confirm and increase inequalities and the consequent discrimination".


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