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Professors have status and responsibility?
February 14, 2012 3:58 PM   Subscribe

Taking their position of status and responsibility into account, Germany's Constitutional Court has ruled that German university professors are underpaid.

Longer article in German, Google translated here.

The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany is responsible for judicial review of government policy, ensuring compliance with the Basic Law. (full pdf text of the Basic Law in authorized English translation)

As of 2005, German university professors are paid as per the W1, W2 and W3 civil servant pay grades. An untenured Juniordozent (W1) is currently paid a base salary of 3525 € per month, about $55 000 per year, with some chance of receiving token bonus pay. The court has ruled that this is in violation of Article 33, paragraph 5 of the Basic Law, which mandates a reasonable salary for civil servants.

North American salaries for junior lecturers are considerably lower. For example, the starting salary for a full time lecturer at the University of Lethbridge is $36 000.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow (46 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Courts get to define what a reasonable salary is for any given government-funded position? Germans know how to take judicial activism to a whole new level, apparently.
posted by Dasein at 4:04 PM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hopefully, this will have some small effect on the plight of underpaid university educators here I'm the US.
posted by clockzero at 4:06 PM on February 14, 2012


Man, I suddenly wish I'd studied German instead of French (and Kant instead of Descartes).
posted by oddman at 4:06 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seems like that would be carrying Kohls to Neunkirchen, oddman.
posted by Iridic at 4:10 PM on February 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


Hopefully, this will have some small effect on the plight of underpaid university educators here [in] the US.

How could it? It's very unlikely that most American academics could compete for German jobs, or would be able to move to take them anyway. Apart from all the other cultural issues (and the clubbiness/nepotism that at least certain fields in the German academy are well-known for) there's the simple fact of the language barrier to contend with. As always, national borders are alive and well as barriers for workers seeking better pay.
posted by RogerB at 4:16 PM on February 14, 2012


The bit about North America salaries is misleading. Your "for example" 36k number from the University of Lethbridge is the lowest number in the report, it is far from the average. Many North American lecturers, myself included, make substantially more than the current German base pay of 55k/y.

What struck me about the german numbers was that there was no distinction by field of study. Is there no difference in pay between lecturers in the sciences and humanities in Germany?
posted by pseudonick at 4:19 PM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is there no difference in pay between lecturers in the sciences and humanities in Germany?

I can tell you there's none in Australia - should there be? You are employed to a certain position within an institution, you're put on a certain pay grade - why should you get different pay depending on whether you teach Kant or the Krebs cycle?
posted by Jimbob at 4:23 PM on February 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


The problem with American faculty is that a great deal of teaching is outsourced to adjuncts - without benefits and at the rate of $2000/class/semester.

Google New Faculty Majority for more.
posted by k8t at 4:26 PM on February 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


You are employed to a certain position within an institution, you're put on a certain pay grade - why should you get different pay depending on whether you teach Kant or the Krebs cycle?

There might be an argument for hazard pay in some cases, at least. Very few philosophy professors are injured in tragic rhetoric accidents.
posted by jedicus at 4:28 PM on February 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


There might be an argument for hazard pay in some cases, at least.

This...this is a thing? I spent my first post-doc wandering around a crocodile-filled swamp that was formerly used as a bombing range with buried UXOs, splashing through water that was the runoff from a garbage tip, and being bitten by disease-carrying mosquitoes.

I got paid the same as the comp sci lecturer.

Maybe you Americans are onto something...
posted by Jimbob at 4:33 PM on February 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


You are employed to a certain position within an institution, you're put on a certain pay grade - why should you get different pay depending on whether you teach Kant or the Krebs cycle?

For the same reason that anyone should get paid more or less than anyone else - supply and demand. Maybe the world is full of political scientists but starving for brilliant physicists.
posted by Dasein at 4:35 PM on February 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


you're put on a certain pay grade - why should you get different pay depending on whether you teach Kant or the Krebs cycle?

If science faculty are more employable outside academia, universities must pay them more to attract equally talented people.

It's very unlikely that most American academics could compete for German jobs, or would be able to move to take them anyway.

I know many foreigners, including Americans and Canadians, working in German universities. It's a nice country to do science in, and top institutions work very hard to compete for overseas talent at all levels. The University of Lethbridge may not need to worry about what's happening in Germany, but U of T (for example) certainly does.

And the language issue is irrelevant in many cases. The working language is English.
posted by Pre-Taped Call In Show at 4:40 PM on February 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


For the same reason that anyone should get paid more or less than anyone else - supply and demand.

Aah yes, supply and demand. You have no opinion on level of expertise, workload, responsibility?

If science faculty are more employable outside academia, universities must pay them more to attract equally talented people.

Paying people more as a means to attract "talent" sure worked for the banking industry! It's only natural to apply the same principle to academia!
posted by Jimbob at 4:49 PM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


If science faculty are more employable outside academia, universities must pay them more to attract equally talented people.

I don't have the numbers at my fingertips, but I seem to recall that business school and law school faculty are the best paid.
posted by madcaptenor at 4:52 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


That $36,000 number is for a lecturer, which is a completely different job from a professor, not just a lower rank of professor -- the number for an assistant professor job at Lethbridge is $55,000, exactly what the number is for Germany.
posted by brainmouse at 4:56 PM on February 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Indeed the pay is (much) the same across disciplines, which leads to a lot of engineering and science professors emigrating. This may help a little bit, but the salaries in science and engineering are still nowhere near competitive internationally. And academics are not averse to moving around, by necessity. Germany is not a bad place for academics (many universities are pretty good, as is quality of life in general), but its universities will have a hard time becoming "excellent" (the self-imposed goal these days) without something happening to compensation. There's a reason german universities don't show up at the very top here.
posted by dlg at 4:57 PM on February 14, 2012


I seem to recall that business school and law school faculty are the best paid.

That's because they do the best work, duh.

I was about to make the lecturer/professor distinction, but on preview I can see that it was just made. At least in the US, there can be quite wide ranges in professorial salaries, even just within one department, as well as between disciplines or between well- and poorly-funded schools.
posted by Forktine at 5:00 PM on February 14, 2012


I was interested in the fact that the court deemed $55k+bonus to be so low as to be unconstitutional, and by the fact that they consider it a constitutional issue at all. I may have derailed my own thread with that last paragraph.

the number for an assistant professor job at Lethbridge...

Is there a Doktor in the house? I may be making a translation error, but as I understand it a W1 position (Juniorprofessor/Juniordozent) is neither tenured nor tenure track, thus not equivalent to an assistant professorship. ("re: Juniorprofessors: "their universities are not supposed to offer tenure") Lecturer still seems to me to be a closer fit. Were I drawing a comparison to sessionals the picture would be much darker. Even if comparing assistant professors and juniorprofessors is the correct comparison, that $55k is the number the Germans now consider unconstitutionally low.

The bit about North America salaries is misleading. Your "for example" 36k number from the University of Lethbridge is the lowest number in the report

Since the German ruling was talking about minimum salaries, the lowest of the low, Lethbridge seemed relevant. The worst it gets in Canada is 65% of the figure German courts have now deemed to be unconstitutionally low. I should have mentioned that it is the lowest in Canada, but it's not an outlier. Several Canadian universities are below $40k starting salary, many more in the $40-$45k range.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:41 PM on February 14, 2012


I'd imagine that a Juniordozent (W1) much more resembles an Assistant Professor in the U.S., not a "lecturer". In particular, there are substantial research expectations and some career advancement opportunities.

American "lecturers" are by-comparison solely lecturers with minimal expectations for research, negligible opportunities for career advancement, and often suffer an exploitive pay grade.

Imho, adjunct lectureships should be outlawed by making the schools that employ them ineligible for federal grants and federally backed financial aid, this includes basically all for-profit degree mills, like the University of Phoenix, but it'd force reforms across all major state schools.

Just fyi, British "lecturers" are effectively what Americans might refer to as tenured Assistant Professors. French MdC are tenured as well, btw.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:48 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


U of Lethbridge actually pays pretty damn well- especially considering the cost of living in Lethbridge. Now- in 2012, not the 2008-2009 of your report- the average Assoc Prof is making well over 100k/yr. And that includes assoc profs in the arts/humanities.

If you're in history, or sociology, or English, or really any of the arts/letters/sciences, you're making way, way more in Canada than you are in most (yes MOST, meaning not Harvard or in an endowed chair with some fat soft money to boot) US schools. I wish you wouldn't talk (and talk bullshit, frankly) about "North American" professors as is Canada and the US are similar, because they're not. Trust me, I've discussed it with American sociology profs and my salary in Canada is one they can only dream of, as is my 13-week semesters.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 5:51 PM on February 14, 2012


There were always these poorly paid "assistants" in Germany who did a professor's dirty work, like grading, but they never afaik delivered lectures, justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow. There was a reform several years ago where the C system got replaced by this W system, which created this W1 position, which theoretically demands more respect than assistantships, might gives lectures, might be tenured. There are still assistantship positions held by PhD students and recent PhDs who're searching for faculty positions elsewhere, but I'm fairly confident W1s rank higher, not completely sure however though.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:57 PM on February 14, 2012


Only in Germany. By the way a "lecturer" at a North American university is not equivalent to a Juniordozent. But the Germans are funny about all this stuff, and academia is more deeply woven into their popular culture.

I saw a photo of a massive student protest against university budget cuts in Germany a few years ago, with a rowdy group of students carrying a large banner that read "Musikwissenschaft Muss Bleiben," or "Musicology Must Stay!"

Like I said, only in Germany.
posted by spitbull at 6:00 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another anecdote about German courts doing things we'd consider incomprehensible in the US: My former stepfather got fired from his job as a gas station attendant because he kept leaving the pumps to go on smoke breaks at inopportune times (basically, when there were still lots of customers waiting for service).

He later sued his former employers in court on the grounds that he was a nicotine addict, and because his addiction was a medical condition, he should have been permitted to take frequent cigarette breaks without penalty. In an outcome that boggles the mind by US standards, he won the suit, and I'm not 100% sure what the award amount was, but I think he got the option to get the job back or take several months of back pay, and then took the award for several thousand DMs.

Obviously, that's not how courts usually work in the US...
posted by saulgoodman at 6:08 PM on February 14, 2012


The Wiki article on Habilitation is the clearest thing I've ever read (in English, or German for that matter) explaining these German university posts. The summary is that the Juniorprofessor/W1 rank is roughly the assistant professor/lecturer post in the US/UK (respectively), modulo German peculiarities.

Somehow I find myself thinking this is a knock-on from the Bologna process. But that's probably because anytime there's higher education reform in Germany it seems to turn into a row about the Bologna process, even if this rank reform (creating the Juniorprofessor, etc) appears to be its own thing.
posted by hoyland at 6:38 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Watching a televised press conference with the Canadian and German defence ministers today I was reminded of a statement I had heard previously that a significant number of German politicians hold PhDs... does this hold true for the German judiciary as well?
posted by HLD at 6:46 PM on February 14, 2012


saulgoodman - I think that may be less about how courts work and more about how good lawyers work. Until you mentioned the award in DMs, I can totally imagine that happening in an American court. Unless the gas station was run by a church in which case, do what you want!
posted by maryr at 7:48 PM on February 14, 2012


At least one of those PhD's held by politicians is a bit, um, fudged. But at least he got one of the coolest send-offs ever. (SLYT).

Schüülllttzzz!
posted by webhund at 7:51 PM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, in the US, we're publicly shaming university professors over their salaries and making their personally identifiable salary data public to score cheap political points, because it's obviously the university professors sucking most vigorously and greedily at the public teat.

I think the Germans are on the better track here.

(Also, since someone mentioned Neunkirchen upthread, shout out to my peeps in der Nähe von Neunkirchen. Ei jo, ihr alle rockt!)
posted by saulgoodman at 8:55 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


the Juniorprofessor/W1 rank is roughly the assistant professor/lecturer post

I stand corrected. Thanks. As I now understand it, assistant professors in Germany receive about the same entry level salary that they do here, but Germany now considers this level of pay unconstitutionally low.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:17 PM on February 14, 2012


As I now understand it, assistant professors in Germany receive about the same entry level salary that they do here, but Germany now considers this level of pay unconstitutionally low.

Yes, but one cannot stress enough that W1 almost never has tenure track options, and W2 has almost no advancement possibilities. Nonetheless, that's not that important regard the decision.

What was deemed unconstitutional is not the base salary, but the insufficiency of the bonus system in comparison to the progression system for comparable public officials (Beamte, which have a special status, which is quite an important concept in this discussion).

If anybody is interested in the details and wants to fiddle with tables, here is a website the computes salary for various public officials (I preselected Hesse, because that's where the decision applies). It's in German, but the most relevant part is "Besgr." (for "Besoldungsgruppe", salary group). Also, I think it's quite precise (at least it computed my salary quite accurately), and it shows you the after-tax-but-before-health-insurance-salary ("netto") for an unmarried person with no dependents (which might be interesting for international comparisons).

So, for a W2 position, the yearly salary ("Jahres-Brutto") will be slightly above 53412€. Now compare this to a teacher at Gymnasium who has been promoted once and has reached the level of "Oberstudienrat", which is on the level A14. Teachers are paid according to age (yet another table for the age levels), and from level 9 on (age 41), earns more than the professor. At age 53, the teacher's salary peaks at 59681€.

Now for the unconstitutional part: The necessary formal qualification for a teacher position as "Studienrat" (A13) is a Staatsexamen (roughly comparable to a degree that includes a Bachelor, a Master, and two years of teaching experience), the promotion to Oberstudienrat requires some additional experience. In contrast to this the professorship requires a PhD, a habilitation and passing the selection process (which is considered an additional qualification), and also experience.

While the teacher's salary increases by age, the professor's salary increases only through boni (both will be adjusted for inflation). Every university has its own set of boni regulations, which are mostly intransparent and insufficient. For example, my university ruled that the bonus can not be more than 10% of the base salary, and is given only to the 10% of the "best" professors (without defining what a good or best professor is). Some universities give higher boni, but (as money is always tight) fewer people will get them.

Thus, even if the professor gets their bonus, they will still earn less than the teacher. But as teachers are considered less qualified than professors, this violates the constitutional principle of adequate salary for "Beamte".
posted by erdferkel at 12:05 AM on February 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


North American salaries...

...differ considerably from one North American country to another. Engineering salaries are considerably higher in the US than in Canada. Humanities salaries are considerably higher in Canada than in the US. Both are higher than academic salaries in Mexico. And academic salaries in Cuba are barely above the poverty line (like every other salary in Cuba).

Meanwhile, in the US, we're publicly shaming university professors...

I think you misspelled "football and basketball coaches".
posted by erniepan at 12:12 AM on February 15, 2012


For the same reason that anyone should get paid more or less than anyone else - supply and demand. Maybe the world is full of political scientists but starving for brilliant physicists.

1) Not everything can be or should be run like a business. The laws that economists claim are universal are actually, in many cases, either debatable or may not apply at all - "free" markets are something of an historical anomaly as well. But even if we allow that there can be a market for academics, there is a big leap from "is" to "ought". Universities are arguably much better off if they are preserved from the stresses of market competition as much as possible, since market competition often leads to short term thinking, pursuit of "me-too" products rather than long term development etc.

2) Let's not rehash the tedious arts/sciences fight. For some reason a lot of science graduates seem to have a big chip on their shoulder about the arts and want to run them down at every opportunity, but the arts and sciences are not mutually exclusive or worth setting at odds. The arts are clearly socially and economically valuable: without them, there would be no artists to create any of the culture that makes life worth living, whatever your taste.

The German attempt to create a society braced and stabilised against the sort of short-term thinking that American capitalism has raised into something like a religion is very interesting. Perhaps it will work; perhaps not. It makes for a nice alternative to the idea that the peculiar and specific way that modern Americans do capitalism is the "natural" and only way.
posted by lucien_reeve at 12:18 AM on February 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


He later sued his former employers in court on the grounds that he was a nicotine addict, and because his addiction was a medical condition, he should have been permitted to take frequent cigarette breaks without penalty. In an outcome that boggles the mind by US standards, he won the suit, and I'm not 100% sure what the award amount was, but I think he got the option to get the job back or take several months of back pay, and then took the award for several thousand DMs.

Obviously, that's not how courts usually work in the US...


Obviously. In the US, he could have sued because auf the mental anguish that he suffered due to being discriminated against and that would have won him not just a few thousand bucks but millions of $.
posted by sour cream at 1:31 AM on February 15, 2012


For some reason a lot of science graduates seem to have a big chip on their shoulder about the arts and want to run them down at every opportunity, but the arts and sciences are not mutually exclusive or worth setting at odds. The arts are clearly socially and economically valuable: without them, there would be no artists to create any of the culture that makes life worth living, whatever your taste.

I'm a scientist who definitely doesn't have a chip on his shoulder about the arts and humanities. Partly because I'm currently working on a severely multidisciplinary project where, as an ecologist, I'm dealing with economists and psychologists and social scientists on a daily basis...and they make me think about things I've never thought of before. Mostly, however, it's simply because the mere continued existence of arts and humanities departments drives right-wing nutbags mad. And the more the academics get paid, the madder the wingnuts get...
posted by Jimbob at 1:41 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Coming from Europe to Australia, I was blown away by how much higher academic salaries are here. A starting salary for a non-tenure track position (hell, we don't have tenure anymore, but a "non-continuing" position) lecturing or doing a research postdoc or whatever is already in the high $60,000s. Our union decided that was too low recently and got it bumped up to $70,000 for all new postdocs. (This is our salary chart. You'll see that professors (Level E) are on $150,000 or so. Level A is imaginary, as they are not allowed to employ people with PhDs at that level anymore.)

Of course, we also have casual RAs and lecturers who do the exact same work at an hourly rate and earn maybe $10,000 a semester if they are lucky. (That used to be me, and may well be again in the future).

I would trade SO MUCH of my pay packet for job security. So. Much.
posted by lollusc at 2:30 AM on February 15, 2012


It must be noted that German professors (at least the ones active in applied research in engineering and the "hard" sciences) lost a particularly valuable boondoggle a few years back. This was the "Professorenprivileg" ("professorial privilege") which allowed them to file patents in their own name, rather than the university's. Many a German university spin-off has been born from the "Professorenprivileg".
posted by Skeptic at 2:37 AM on February 15, 2012


I think you misspelled "football and basketball coaches".

No, the data release included every public university professor's salary (including a few I know personally), and the framing of the release in the press was very much "now taxpayers can finally see how overpaid all these public university professors in Florida are." Of course, the truth is, apart from one professor/chair of some prominent school of plastic surgery who was taking home in the half a million range, most of those professors weren't getting paid nearly enough to actually trigger any outrage, but there's no doubt the intent of the release was to shame university faculty in Florida in order to justify further budget cuts.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:19 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Spiegel article. Excerpt:
A chemistry professor at the University of Marburg in the state of Hesse brought the case to the court. The professor had been hired in 2005 at a base pay of €3,890 ($5,122) per month. He also received around €24 per month based on performance. Given the workload handed to the professor, he felt the remuneration had been unfair.
Under the 2005 federal reforms, starting professor salaries had been reduced by 25 percent and incoming academics were no longer guaranteed raises based on their age. Instead, they were to be offered supplementary pay based on their performance in order to make Germany's universities more competitive in academic terms. Universities are free to determine the criteria for the payments on their own.

In its ruling on the Marburg case, the court said the professor's pay was not representative of what a civil servant should make and did not make "an appropriate livelihood" possible. The court ruled, however, that performance pay remained permissible as long as those achievements were clearly defined, professors had a legal guarantee to receive them and that they could sue if they didn't.

In addition to Hesse, which must present new salary guidelines by Jan. 1, 2013, the ruling is also expected to affect other states. The lowest paid professors in Germany are in Berlin, where a starting junior professor earns €3,525 per month. A professor at the same level in Bavaria gets €3,890 and €3,924 in Baden-Württemberg.

On the editorial pages on Wednesday, German newspapers are split on the ruling. Some warn that it could prove to be extremely expensive for German states that are already grappling with a surge in the number of students seeking spots at the country's universities. Noting that German states have a choice over whether they classify professorships as civil servant positions or normal jobs, one national newspaper speculates that universities might move away from the special, job-for-life protections that civil-servant status entails.
posted by Kattullus at 7:41 AM on February 15, 2012


As a couple of folks have made comments speculating about the smoker/disability anecdote and what would've happened had this occurred in the US legal system, perhaps it is worth noting that the Americans with Disabilities Act expressly excludes smoking or treatment for smoking as being a basis for recovery for discrimination of a disability. FWIW, this was a provision put into the ADA by congress for the very reasons mentioned by people here.

It's also the reason why businesses can, thankfully, declare their premises smoke free and are not required to give smokers extra breaks for a nicotine fix.
posted by webhund at 7:49 AM on February 15, 2012


the average Assoc Prof is making well over 100k/yr. And that includes assoc profs in the arts/humanities.

The "average" salary at the U.S. institution where I am employed as a tenured associate professor in the humanities/social sciences is also over $100K, and while that number "includes" the salaries of arts/humanities faculty in its calculation, it is in no way an accurate assessment of what most faculty on our campus are actually paid. Faculty in our College of Business are paid in the $125-180K range, and it is primarily their salaries that make the university "average" look so high. If we could in fact average the total payroll evenly across the faculty, that would mean a big fat raise for those of us not in the $100K range now (and a big hit for the business faculty). But that is not how it works in real life, of course.

In real life, there are massive salary differentials among faculty, and on my campus, as on many in the U.S., this is unfortunately in no way (except in some cases coincidentally) reflective of differences in what jimbob describes as"level of expertise, workload, responsibility." It is, rather, a result of the differential valuation of academic disciplines.

And the distinction is not so much between the arts/humanities and the sciences but between the College of Business and everyone else. Some faculty in the sciences and engineering are pretty well compensated but they are also under tremendous pressure to bring in external funding to support not only their own research but also graduate student tuition and stipends. Business faculty are under zero such pressure, and in fact our College of Business brings in the smallest number of external grants of any college at my institution, maybe one or two per year, less in total number of awards as well as in total dollar amount than even the College of Fine Arts, which is also usually fairly low on the list of grant-generating colleges but whose faculty salaries are a lot lower than $150K.

Trust me, I've discussed it with American sociology profs and my salary in Canada is one they can only dream of, as is my 13-week semesters.

Really? Granted, I guess we do have to suffer through that excruciating "extra" week of our 14-week semesters, but I have quite a few friends in the Canadian system whose salaries seem pretty comparable to ours in the U.S.
posted by isogloss at 8:07 AM on February 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


In the US, he could have sued because auf the mental anguish

That's either a very subtle joke by sour cream or the typo of the month.
posted by Dasein at 9:59 AM on February 15, 2012


Last I recall from AAUP (American Association of University Professors) and CAUT (Canadian Association of University Teachers; their survey data is available online to members only) data, starting salaries in Canada, across arts and sciences disciplines, tend to be higher than in the US, but Canadian faculty salaries are less widely spread overall.

In the US, there is a huge difference in faculty pay between top-ranked universities and lower-ranked universities, between research-focused universities and teaching-focused universities, and between private universities and public universities. My starting salary at a Canadian university, for example, was greater than my mother's salary after ten years and in a dean-level academic administration position at a small, teaching focused US university. On the other hand, "star" faculty at US universities make significantly more than all but a handful of faculty in Canada.

Because of the really significant differences in pay between types of institutions and across different positions at the same institution in the US, average faculty salary can be a really misleading figure. What an average salary is also depends on if you are averaging actual salary of actual faculty (which will be affected by demographics: how old the faculty are at a particular university) versus what the average salary on the pay grid is, if you include non-tenured/tenure-track positions like adjunct/part-time lecturers or not (most average salary figures that I've seen don't include these egregiously poorly compensated positions), etc.

The approach that justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow took in comparing starting salaries is much more useful, imo, if the issue that you are looking at is one of ensuring a fair base level of compensation for all workers. Which is what the German court case was about. Politicians in the US or Canada who want to cut funding to higher education are concerned about total labor costs, for which average salary (computed based on actual salaries of actual faculty) is the more relevant figure, which is why we see such figures bandied aroud so much in the US. However, if you want to form a proposal that would cut university labor costs, then you may well want to look past those average salary numbers into the distribution of salaries. Now, if you are concerned about educational quality and the ability of a university to fulfill its teaching and research missions....

Also, I can vouch that jeffburdges knows what he's talking about on academic position equivalents between the US/Canada, UK, France, and Germany (and possibly a couple other European countries as well).
posted by eviemath at 1:23 PM on February 15, 2012


Thus, even if the professor gets their bonus, they will still earn less than the teacher. But as teachers are considered less qualified than professors, this violates the constitutional principle of adequate salary for "Beamte".

Somebody once pointed out to me that German teachers (as opposed to professors) are particularly well paid, and that coincidentally they are also the best represented profession in Germany's various lawmaking bodies...Heh.
posted by Skeptic at 2:09 AM on February 16, 2012


There were always these poorly paid "assistants" in Germany who did a professor's dirty work, like grading, but they never afaik delivered lectures, justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow.

Which usually was a pity. When I studied there, the actual business of lecturing was not highly regarded among Professoren, whereas many of them took pride in their low passing rates, which were born as badges of honour. As a result, most lectures ranged between the useless and the mind-numbing. Thankfully, the long-suffering Assistenten (PhD students who were basically treated as indentured labour) often supplemented their very meager income by lecturing in reasonably-priced private academies which functioned as cram schools. With this monetary incentive, they did a lot more than the tenured Professoren to make their subjects bearable and even interesting.
posted by Skeptic at 2:27 AM on February 16, 2012


Vaguely related : University of Sydney firing 100 academics who published too infrequently
posted by jeffburdges at 7:21 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The particularly interesting thing about the Sydney story is that the academics were not told how many papers they were expected to publish beforehand...
posted by Jimbob at 3:35 PM on February 25, 2012


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