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Professors call for Covid-19 measures to help young staff

German association warns of wave of career failures if PhDs are not supported

The German Association of University Professors and Lecturers (DHV) has presented a catalogue of measures to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on research and teaching.

Researchers on temporary contracts, including those still qualifying for an academic title, should be entitled to an extension of at least six months if they can show that any delays they are facing are related to coronavirus. Scientists and academics with childcare obligations should be legally entitled to have their fixed-term contracts and evaluation periods extended without further proof, the association said.

“The main issue now is to relieve the burden on scientists in qualification and probation phases,” said DHV president Bernhard Kempen. He added that the association was receiving a large number of reports from researchers overloaded with extra duties and unable to continue vital research related to their contracts.

“That is why it is important that scientists are provided with aid,” he said.

Kempen called on all those in positions of responsibility in politics, but also on university teachers who managed personnel, to show special consideration for early-career scientists.

For example, Kempen said that those states offering emergency day care to parents in key worker positions should extend this offer to scientists. “Tasks such as examinations and teaching are vital to keeping the system going,” the DHV said in its statement. “Differentiating between school teachers and university lecturers, as is happening in Bavaria, appears arbitrary.”

The association also suggested that researchers working towards their PhD or a post-doc position should benefit from reduced teaching loads in the coming semester. This could compensate for coronavirus-related delays in their academic and scientific career, the DHV said.