Young academics slate work pressure

A set of youthful researchers at the Flemish universities of Ghent, Leuven and Antwerp have launched an online petition against what they call 'work pressure and competition that is steadily becoming unsustainable'. They also attack the focus on quantity at the expense of quality and suggest three possible solutions.

The young academics hope that many people will support their call.

They say that work pressure and competition are becoming unsustainable for lecturers and youthful researchers alike. A one-sided focus on quantity is adopting absurd proportions. Publication used to be a method of communicating research. Today it has become an end in itself.

The researchers say that complaints to decision-makers have led to nothing and that bureaucracy continues to grow apace. The situation is forcing academics to take shortcuts and could lead to fraud.

Pressure is greatest among youthful researchers with temporary contracts.

The researchers suggest that in future the number of publications should play less of a role when subsidies are decided. The authorities should give greater thought to the career prospects of young researchers. Training should not be overspecialised. The goal is not to produce overspecialised academics whose sole aim is to get their material published.

So far 150 academics have signed the petition.