Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Weird stuff - academic appointments German style

University of Cologne
As you might know, I have worked in a whole bunch of places during my academic career, including Germany, Australia, England, South Africa, Scotland, and now Canada. In all of these places bar the first one (Germany) a clear ritual is followed. You are invited to a job interview, you got to do some loop and hoop jumping activities (give a lecture, meet students etc) and after a day or two you fly home. Everywhere (including South Africa) the institution that short-listed you will cover your airfare (sometimes covering a business fare, usually though sticking to economy - we're humanities based cheapskates after all), your hotel and usually your meals. Not so in Germany, universities that shortlist you expect you to pay your own way; if you're lucky they might pay for your meal and/or a night in a B&B. Worse, while in the other  countries, once a job offer has been extended to you, you will get a reasonably generous allowance to help with your international removal expenses, in Germany usually you're expected to pay for your own removal expenses. From my own experience, the older you get the more of your life you carry on your back with you, so it gets consecutively more expensive. So, all of this makes me wonder: why is Germany so determined to stay non-competitive when it comes to trying to attract top scholars of international standing? Clearly, how the process is being handled suggests that the country's universities don't care too much about who accepts their offer eventually, as long as whoever ends up there comes free of charge.

And before you ask, no, I did not recently apply for a job in Germany, a German friend of mine did.

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