Why did science leave me

Life after graduationScientific careers should become more attractive

Enrico Schleiff decided to pursue an academic career. He is Professor of Biology and Vice President of the University of Frankfurt am Main. As deputy chairman of the UniWind network, he takes care of the orientation of young scientists. And that doesn't necessarily have to have a career in science, says Schleiff:

"We try to wrestle for the best minds, we also try to offer advice in the context of postgraduate training to see what are potentials and what are opportunities. As Uniwind, we see ourselves more as an organization that wants to show the various career paths . Because everyone should decide for themselves what is the right path for them, because we as universities also have a responsibility to bring highly qualified people into a wide variety of positions. "

Many doctorates cannot stay at the university

Universities also want to train for the market. After all, the majority of the doctoral students cannot stay at the university. A cultural change is also required here when it comes to accepting advice, says Enrico Schleiff.

"In some places we have barriers in our head. And the barrier in our head is, if I go there, then I automatically say I am not suitable for a university career, which is still pronounced sacred in our system. But if I do now say: I go there to get really open advice and this is a unique opportunity for me to work with someone as a mirror with me, then we will build it up step by step. "

According to the latest findings, less than half of the next generation of academics are aiming for a career in science, says Matthias Winde from the Donors' Association for German Science. In a study, he examined the wishes and ideas of young German researchers, both before and after their doctorate.

Unsafe conditions in science

The result: around 55 percent of them would like to leave science. And only 22 percent are aiming for a professorship. Winds over the grounds:

Unsafe conditions are a big issue for the young scientists. We know that universities are working on creating more permanent contracts, but that has not yet become widely accepted. And that is why the secure employment in the economy is attractive for young scientists, and certainly the higher salaries.

Those who aim for a professorship often only know when they are in their early 40s whether they have achieved this goal. In between there are annual contracts and frequent changes of location. And that in a phase of life in which a family is often pending. In order to stabilize the employment relationship, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is promoting so-called tenure-track professorships together with the federal states. Anyone who takes up such a position is guaranteed a professorship if certain achievements are made.

1000 professorships are to be created from 2017. But what about those who want to work at the university but not with a professorship? Depending on the survey method, between 10 and 25 percent of the positions at the university are open-ended, says Matthias Winde, who also surveyed universities for his study. But:

"What I think is quite nice is that the majority of university management said they are striving to create more permanent jobs in research, teaching and also in science management. And that a ratio of 40 to 60 permanent to fixed-term contracts is actually an ideal situation are. "

In which, so the hope is, the academic career below the professorship may then become more attractive again.