Higher education and research staff are concerned about the Academic Profession's Attractiveness


On 20-21 September 2023, a statutory meeting of HERSC (Higher Education and Research Standing Committee) - a permanent body of ETUCE representing 45 education trade unions - took place in Brussels.

Education trade unions expressed their concerns about the attractiveness of the academic professions in higher education and research sectors, due to precarious contracts, lack of support for young academics, and declining salaries. ETUCE’s Campaign on the attractiveness of the teaching profession and the numerous events envisaged for the upcoming European Week of Teachers (2-6 October 2023) will discuss these topics. Education trade unions are carrying out many activities at the national level to raise the status of teaching and research careers and address teacher shortages and job precarity. During the meeting, they underlined that effective social dialogue with the education trade unions is key to improving the status of academic professions.  

The HERSC meeting hosted the new president of EQAR Stéphane Lauwick and director Magalie Soenen, with whom ETUCE member organisations discussed the future of quality assurance in higher education and the role of academics in quality assurance.

Digitalisation, artificial Intelligence, and ChatGPT in institutional management, higher education, and research (HER) were also addressed. Some countries are actively pursuing digitalization in higher education but increased workloads and stress and protecting intellectual property rights are potential problems for the teachers and researchers. Other concerns include potential discrimination in the data-driven higher education student enrolment process and a need for a human element in education. HERSC members underscored the necessity of policy decisions in creating regulatory frameworks aligning AI development with the preservation of fundamental educational values, and protecting academic freedom and workers' rights in the era of AI.

EU and international policy developments in higher education and research were discussed, namely mutual recognition in education and training, academic freedom, and the European Career Framework for higher education. In continuation to the HERSC 2022 meeting on a sustainable future for HER, the members highlighted the need for strong social dialogue, increased funding, and exchange of good practices to raise the attractiveness of the teaching and research profession and tackle teacher shortages. Furthermore, they called for enhanced support to higher education and research staff in the current digital age fast-transforming educational landscape.