FUURT’s recommendations for developing academics’ career models at universities and reducing fixed-term employment relationships

During autumn 2020 and spring 2021, FUURT’s fixed-term employment and career models working group discussed key issues related to researcher careers and fixed-term employments within the higher education and science sector in Finland. The working group’s proposal served as the foundation for the following FUURT recommendations, which were approved by the Union Board at its meeting on 11 June 2021.


Fixed-term employment relationships


Universities shall steer towards the aim of flipping the current 30:70 ratio for permanent and fixed-term employment relationships to the other way round.


The number of fixed-term employment relationships shall be systematically included in the planning of human resources within the workplace. Today, the universities fail to pay adequate attention in their HR planning to researchers working on a fixed-term basis or to support their career advancement in a structured manner. We recommend that units or departments have clear HR plans drawn up that also cover employees with fixed-term employment relationships. Due to the nature of their task, university teachers shall primarily be hired on a permanent basis.


We recommend that the universities develop, as part of their long-term human resource policies, such internal labour markets, recruiting practices, funding mechanisms and buffer funds that will provide the means to extend the duration of employment relationships and to avoid interruptions resulting from discontinuities in external funding.


Employers shall have greater responsibility for researchers working in fixed-term employment relationships. Well in advance before the end of an employment relationship, the supervisor and employee shall discuss opportunities for continued employment, either within or outside of the university. If necessary, the supervisor shall take the matter to a higher level in order to investigate alternatives for continued funding and employment.

Career models 


Universities shall provide researchers and teachers with different career path and tenure track options. FUURT encourages universities to look into possibilities to establish new internal career paths (enabling, for example, a merited university teacher to be appointed as a university lecturer, or a university lecturer to be promoted to professorship without an open call) and to develop the related assessment criteria and processes.


Personal development in academic work shall be facilitated for all, including researchers and teachers with long-term employment in the same task or position. Careful HR planning could be used as a tool for sharing research and teaching responsibilities horizontally and alternately between different employees. Horizontal moves and synchronized recruitments involving several persons (for example, rotation in terms of primary teaching and research duties) would facilitate research leaves and accrual of multidisciplinary knowledge as well as support the sustainability of individual employees’ careers, while also providing an efficient framework for the implementation of the university’s basic tasks.


All career models shall adequately include the aspects of teaching, research and administration as well as merits in societal interaction. Universities shall facilitate a smooth transfer from teaching-intensive tasks (e.g., university teachers, university lecturers) to research-intensive tasks (e.g., university researchers, associate professors and professors) by offering opportunities to focus on research during a research leave. Correspondingly, those in research-intensive tasks shall have the right to gain experience in teaching and supervising, and to transfer to teaching-intensive tasks.


Universities shall systematically provide their affiliated grant researchers with opportunities to contribute to teaching and integrate into the work community.
Grants are an important form of research funding, and universities shall take their role into account in the planning of researcher career models.


Given the fact that research funding is increasingly comprised of competitive external funding, researchers shall have access to well-functioning and qualified support services with special expertise in various calls for funding.


Open recruitment shall be maintained as a method for filling professorships alongside the tenure track system for professors.


Salaries shall reflect the job-demand levels and performance as specified in the relevant pay system. For example, if the job description of an associate professor or university lecturer changes so as to be comparable to the job description of a professor, the title and job-demand level shall be revised accordingly. Substitutes should have the titles that were held by those who were in the position originally. Supervisory duties shall be reflected in the pay in the form of job-demand level increments.


Equality and non-discrimination


In recruitment and promotion processes, even short-term international visits and any realized international co-operation for research and teaching shall be taken into account as international merits. The requirements of international mobility shall take into consideration the actual possibilities for mobility of persons in various life situations. If there are any requirements related to international mobility, the university shall offer comprehensive support services and funding (for example, for arranging child care abroad).


Universities shall regularly evaluate the realisation of equality and assess possible discriminatory structures in recruitment and career advancement in terms of gender, foreign/ethnic background and age, for example, by conducting analyses on the applicants and appointees to various academic tasks or positions. If any problems are observed, the university shall take the necessary development measures.


Those involved in evaluations shall be provided with training in the ethical evaluation of academic work, for example, as part of their leadership training: (Good practice in researcher evaluation).

Management and leadership



Management and leadership skills and practices play a major role in terms of individual merits, work planning, substitute practices as well as title and pay policies. Supervisory work at universities is crucial when it comes to offering support for career development. FUURT encourages universities to provide supervisors at various levels with sufficient resources for managerial work and development of leadership skills to ensure that the management has the required skills to act in accordance with these recommendations.


FUURT’s fixed-term employment and career models working group

Chair: VTT Maria Pietilä
Members: YTT, docent Mikko Jakonen, YTT Hanna Rautajoki, FT Taru Siekkinen
Secretary: Director of Advocacy Mia Weckman