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It seems that I can't find any evidence of just teaching positions in universities across Europe, aside from the temporary position for a semester or two. I am mainly interested in Italy, France, Switzterland but let's make this a bit more broad so it applies to more people.

Every job ad I have seen requests publications and then asks to have a strong research agenda, raise funding, etc.

Do those positions still exists in Biology/Environmental Sciences and related fields? Or perhaps positions with minimal research pressure?

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In France at least, the answer is yes, these positions exist. The positions you need to look for are either called "PRAG" (for PRofesseur AGrégé dans l'enseignement supérieur) or "PRCE" (for PRofesseur CErtifié affecté dans l'enseignement supérieur). There exists a list of such positions (warning: big xls spreadsheet) and I count a few that mention "biologie" for example. These are teaching-only positions in universities, or sometimes "grandes écoles" (which are pretty much the same as universities except that they have fewer students, students had to take a competitive exam to get in, education starts at the 3rd year level, and the focus is often more on engineering).

However, landing these positions is not easy.

  1. They are very competitive: there are few of them, and they are in high demand.
  2. To become a "PRAG" you need to be professeur agrégé, as the name indicates. This is done by passing the agrégation, which is a national competitive exam. Similarly to become "PRCE" you need to be a professeur certifié, which requires passing another national competitive exam (easier than the agrégation).
  3. Both of these are civil servant (fonctionnaire) jobs. Professeurs agrégés usually teach in high school (sometimes in middle school), and professeurs certifiés teach in middle and high school. If you win the national competition, you have to take up a post (and you're unlikely to obtain a PRAG or PRCE position your first year unless you're brilliant and lucky). If you don't, then you will lose your position unless you have a compelling reason, which certainly won't help you build the seniority/experience necessary to obtain a PRAG/PRCE position.

As professeur agrégé you would also have the possibility of teaching in a prépa, including biology. This is a special post-secondary studies pathway consisting of two intensive years of training (for the students) before the students take up the national competitive exams to enter a grande école. This covers the first two years after high school (and usually the content of the courses is larger than the content of the first two years of university). Once again, obtaining a position in a prépa is rather difficult and is a combination of brilliance and luck (and networking...).

Upside: there is zero research pressure in these positions as you will not have any duty (or time) to do research.

Other than that, I don't think there exist any teaching-only positions in France. All other academic positions (maître de conférences, chargé de recherche...) are either teaching+research or even research-only. It is not surprising that all the job ads you found emphasized a strong research record in France: by law, research is mandatory, and university departments are only evaluated (and hence receive funding) through research.

  • I was under impression that OP want to work in academia? – SSimon Feb 13 '18 at 10:24
  • Thanks for the thorough answer, indeed I am more interested in universities, but this is useful information. – Herman Toothrot Feb 13 '18 at 10:36
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    @HermanToothrot PRAGs and PRCEs teach in universities (or sometimes grandes écoles, which are pretty much universities except that entrance is competitive, education starts at the L3 level, and the focus is often more on engineering). Prépa is postsecondary education, even if it's not technically a university – you would teach the same content (and even more) as what you would teach to 1st and 2nd year university students. Whether you consider all this to be part of "academia" is your choice. – user9646 Feb 13 '18 at 10:42
  • I've clarified my answer. – user9646 Feb 13 '18 at 10:47
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    @HermanToothrot It is impossible to get such a position without a PhD. It's not a formal requirement, rather, there are so many applicants to choose from that those without a PhD won't even be considered. – user9646 Feb 13 '18 at 11:35

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