During these unprecedented times, it is quite hard to predict whether any recently advertised academic jobs will be still available next fall, as some countries might enforce social distancing or lockdown for a whole year. Still, many conferences are cancelled or delayed this year, thus getting papers published harder, alongside with academic path progression. I guess that we should be trying to get journal papers accepted instead...

Given that I am at the end of a fixed term assistant professor position (looking possibly forward for an open term/tenure track one), I'm asking if it will be possible that universities will still be hiring new APs when they might be asked to close until further notice (e.g, UK). Is it still possible that some degrees will convert all of their modules into on-line classes (e.g., for Computer Science), thus allowing universities to get the same number of students they expected in the following academic year? This is still a relevant question - I think -, as the hiring of new junior accademic staff goes hand in hand with an expected increased amount of students on campus. Do you have any insight on this, or do you think that it is too early to make any possible educated guess?

Thanks a lot for your suggestions.

  • 2
    Everything will happen at some university. On average, it will be bad for academics. It's much too soon to say how bad. University leaders will make their hiring decisions by guessing. Mar 21, 2020 at 8:52

1 Answer 1


The road to the future is never smooth and upward trending. It is bumpy. In the current chaotic situation, expect chaos in the short term. Others, such as myself, have experienced career setbacks due to circumstances we can't control. I finished my doctorate at a time when the market for mathematicians was one of zero demand and massive supply. But over time, the bumps eased out for us. Perhaps, and we hope, they will for you also. But prediction of the future is an uncertain business riddled with errors among fantastic claims.

Unfortunately too many governments around the world are behaving incompetently, making everything worse. But in the long run, climate change will probably have a bigger effect than the current pandemic. And it is also being ignored by some governments.

However, unless we are willing to give up scientific study altogether and unless we are willing to give up educating the citizenry for the future, there is a lot of incentive to continue as we have as much as we can within the constraints that we see. Universities have many incentives to maintain their services and their structures. Most feel an obligation to faculty, students, society, and science itself. Those are strong positive forces.

The incentives, however, need to be met with action. We don't have answers yet to some important questions. One of the questions is how meaningful and complete we can make an education without face to face interactions. Another is how we can continue some sorts of research, say lab sciences, without physical labs staffed by researchers. These are hard questions. It will take some innovation. Conferences could, in principle, move to virtual space, just as "classroom" education is doing now.

Fortunately we are in a better place today than even 20 years ago with fairly ubiquitous internet communication. Some of the problems are probably solvable relatively quickly.

But we don't know how many students will seek higher education in the next couple of years. We don't know how taxing authorities will deal with funding education in the face of economic disruption. Some, but not all, signs are positive. But uncertainty is high. Budgets, needs for faculty, working conditions, etc. All in flux.

I suspect that the careers of people in your situation will be disrupted for a while, as mine was. But I also suspect that the situation will improve for you, though it may take some years to do so. Provided, of course, that we don't kill the planet along the way.

Try to find a way to be healthy and happy, even if your short term goals must change. Try to use the internet to stay connected. Try to stay as productive as possible given the constraints. Apply for what positions there are, and for positions that you might not have considered if times were better.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .