Fixed-term contracts: opportunity or exploitation?


A lack of permanent positions and predominantly temporary contracts in academia is challenging for early and mid-career scientists. Recent estimates in Germany suggest that 78% of scientists are on fixed-term contracts (German Trade Union Confederation, 2020). Their life is heavily impacted by job options which in turn also influences their future career choices. Often, the initial idea behind fixed-term contracts was to enhance scientific exchange, collaborations, and innovation. However, many scientists experience the disadvantages associated with them, such as regularly moving city/country, uprooting families, and regular pressure to find a new job. Many scientists attribute short-term contracts to their desire to move away from academic careers. The distribution of fixed-term and permanent contracts is not equal across gender, ethnicity, or age. Whilst recent studies in the U.K. found 28% of white male scientists were employed on a fixed-term basis, this number was 45% for Asian female scientists (Higher Education Statistics Agency, U.K., 2019). Would science benefit from more permanent contracts? Or do short-term contracts provide opportunities to work with a range of groups and institutes?

Recently, there has been a surge in the discussion on fixed-term contracts and the academic careers system in general. In this panel discussion (if the GA is online) or round-table discussion (if the GA is in-person), invited speakers will share their opinions and provide suggestions on how to move forward or revise the career system. This debate will give the opportunity to discuss a timely and controversial topic that is relevant for all career stages.

Convener: Jenny Turton | Co-conveners: Janina NettECSECS, Meriel J. BittnerECSECS, Aayush Srivastava
Mon, 23 May, 17:00–18:30 (CEST)
Room E1


  • Amrei Bahr
  • Céline Heuzé, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Marco Masia, University of Vienna, Austria