Figures at the VSNU university association show that by no means everyone at Erasmus University has a permanent appointment. About 45 percent of the teaching staff there are employed on the basis of temporary contracts.

Professors and associate professors are the lucky ones: only 5 percent and 3 percent respectively have a temporary contract. But this percentage is 72 for all the other lecturers at EUR.

EUR heads the list

tijdelijke dienst aan de universiteit EN

This means that the chances of a permanent contract in university education are the smallest at EUR, since 40 percent of all ordinary lecturers in the Netherlands have a temporary contract. University lecturers and other teaching staff have the least security with respect to their jobs: 31 percent and 56 percent respectively have a temporary contract.

Teaching staff have a much better chance of a permanent contract at Delft University of Technology: only 6.5 percent of the teaching staff there have a temporary contract. In fact, more university lecturers than professors at Delft have a permanent contract.

Tenure tracks

During last year’s collective labour agreement discussions, the parties concluded agreements to reduce temporary contracts at universities to 22 percent. But according to VAWO, the trade union for academic staff, universities can still wriggle out of these agreements.

This is due to the lecturers in ‘tenure track’ systems, who can be promoted to professor during a special procedure provided that they continually fulfil the conditions agreed on throughout the years. These lecturers are given long-term contracts for this purpose, although these contracts are still temporary ones.

Since these tenure tracks aren’t included in the collective labour agreements, they don’t come under the heading of ‘genuine’ temporary contracts. According to VAWO, the only formal condition for the tenure tracks is that the contract must cover a period of more than 4 years.

Universities might still keep to the agreements

This is the reason why some universities might have employed ordinary lecturers for a period of four years or even a bit longer, in order to ensure that these temporary contracts don’t come under the 22 percent norm. So it’s quite possible that universities will still keep to the collective labour agreements.

According to spokesman Jacco Neleman this is the case at the Erasmus University. “When considering the share of temporary contracts with a period shorter than four years, we can see a percentage of 21 in 2014. Thus, even when considering the temporary tutors, who are acquired because of the fluctuating number of students, the EUR meets the requirement of 22 percent. Therefore, there is no need to develop a policy on this issue.”

Doctoral candidates, who also make up a large part of the teaching staff at universities, aren’t included in these figures because they all have temporary contracts.