Looking at the list of academic ranks on Wikipedia shows that the same academic rank/title can mean quite different things in different countries. For instant, a "research assistant" in the US can stand for an undergrad student doing an internship, while in the UK it can stand for a postdoc. Similarly, the term "lecturer" might stand for a permanent position (e.g. in the UK) or for a teaching assistant position, open to graduate students.

However, when thinking about it, there are not so many kind of possible positions (permanent or not, with teaching or not, with research or not, with PhD supervision or not, with team responsibility or not, etc), and having a clear title could help a lot (for instance, in my case, I've been working in four different countries, with a different job title each time!).

  • Is there some kind of official taxonomy that one could refer to?
  • If not, who could be in charge to create it? (the EU, if only for intra-Europe mobility?)
  • An ontology would be even nicer than a taxonomy. The domain seems to be complex enough to need an ontology. – Trylks Jun 26 '16 at 12:25
  • C. S. Lewis was for several decades a "tutor" in English literature at Oxford, where that title was considered to belong to persons who had permanent positions. In English universities the title of "professor" seems to be more exalted than that of respected academics who have permanent positions, and Lewis got that title by leaving Oxford for Cambridge. Understanding the word "tutor" is not unrelated to understanding the word "tuition". In the U.S., it seems as if it may have been a century or more ago that the word "tuition" came to mean money paid by a student to a university in.... – Michael Hardy Sep 3 '19 at 5:10
  • .....consideration for the privilege of being a student. (I use the word "consideration" in the lawyers' sense of that word). – Michael Hardy Sep 3 '19 at 5:11
  • But I have the impression that the older meaning of "tuition" persists in some parts of the English-speaking world. – Michael Hardy Sep 3 '19 at 5:11
  • . . . . . . . and what sort of academic position does "Lehrkraft für besondere Aufgaben" refer to? – Michael Hardy Sep 3 '19 at 5:25

In general, the answer is negative.

Not only there are different systems in different countries (and same-spelled degrees may have different requirements), but even if a degree seems to be the same, it is not necessary considered equivalent.

Often universities and institutes have some freedom in the interpretation of degrees earned in other countries. Common sense can be a good guide but in case of doubt you need to check if university (or institute) X accepts a foreign academic title Y instead of their Z.

For example, when I obtained degrees licencjat (3 years undergraduate, 180ECTS) and magister (5 years undergraduate, 300ECTS) from a Polish university, they refused to translate it into anything else (stating explicitly that it is not equivalent to anything else). However, some other Polish universities do translate it into Bachelor of Science and Master of Science, respectively. Nevertheless, my new institute didn't have problem to find them qualifying me for their PhD program.

  • If I'm not mistaken, your answer seems to be more on academic degrees rather than "job" title or ranks. But that's a very good example actually, since there has been in Europe a real effort to standardize all the degrees, for instance to follow the Bachelor/Master/PhD structure. So, even if it doesn't translate, at least you have the ECTS, which are enough if you want to move around. – user102 Feb 25 '12 at 17:29
  • I understood your question. However, I've shown even that in the beginning the titles are not completely equivalent (and in the EU it may be matter of naming/bureaucracy, but UE->US and even in (UE->UK) sometimes different instituted do have different translations). In the later stages it gets even more complicated, as often there are positions, or titles, which have no direct counterpart in other country. – Piotr Migdal Feb 27 '12 at 8:34
  • One should note that in the EU there is now the Bologna Process which precisely aims to eliminate the distinctions. The success and the reception of that process, however, is a completely different matter of discussion. – Willie Wong Feb 28 '12 at 10:17
  • @WillieWong I know, so I was even more surprised. However, I am not into law/regulations and there may be between degrees being equivalent and degrees being sufficient to continue education in other countries. – Piotr Migdal Feb 28 '12 at 11:20
  • WRT the example, it is a sensible issue. E.g. Titles in Spain were Licenciado and Diplomado for 5 and 3 years respectively. With Bologna, Bachelor is 4 years, and Master is 1 more year, at first they equated Licenciado with Bachelor, and after 5 years of "consideration" they decided to equate Licenciado with Bachelor + Master. – Trylks Jun 26 '16 at 12:23

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