After 2 postdoc positions, I applied for tenure-track assistant professor positions. I am from mechanical engineering and my research is strongly experimental. This is critically important for me to have a considerable start-up package to run my lab to get funds and students.

In two interviews for positions in the USA and Japan, I was told that the start-up package is about $800K, with a possibility to be negotiated to reach 1 million too (not Japan).

However, in an interview for a position in the UK, I was told that stat-up package in not part of the position (though it is a normal faculty position, not teaching only). They can offer up to 200K pounds, subject to approval.

I am very interested in Europe, but it made me wonder if this is the common situation in Europe or this position was exceptional?

Do European university normally offer start-up package for building a lab (in experimental fields) for a new assistant professor? I mean, as it is common in the United States. Or European universities have a different scheme for funding new faculty members.

I am referring to the Western Europe: Mainly UK, and also Germany and Scandinavia.

  • 9
    I feel like the appropriate answer is going to be extremely dependent on the country and maybe even specific institutions
    – posdef
    Apr 16, 2015 at 11:10
  • 9
    Not even different faculties in my university (in Sweden) have a common strategy about tenure-track, let along different universities in the country.
    – posdef
    Apr 16, 2015 at 11:24
  • 15
    I think the most common tenure-track model in Europe is "what the heck is tenure track?". Packages are common, but primarily for Full Professors, and there they are quite freely negotiated.
    – xLeitix
    Apr 16, 2015 at 13:31
  • 6
    @user33230 Well, the USA is a single country while Europe is composed of dozens of countries, and some universities have been around for much longer than the USA has even existed. European universities are bound to have developed a few differences between each others...
    – user9646
    Apr 16, 2015 at 13:47
  • 3
    OK, so maybe not every European university system uses tenure or tenure-track positions when it recruits faculty, but we must be able to help OP to understand the models they do use and whether start-up packages are common for entry-level faculty hires in experimental STEM fields or what mechanisms they might use to bring on new experimental resources.
    – Bill Barth
    Apr 16, 2015 at 14:03

2 Answers 2


I think the issue is that the concept of "tenure-track" doesn't really exist in many European countries—at least not as it's interpreted in the US. Consequently, start-up packages can be difficult to compare.

When I started my present position, I got a very small package, if you reckoned it in terms of what's needed to buy equipment and pay for travel. On the other hand, I was guaranteed two full-time scientific positions for the lifetime of my appointment. (These positions could be used for either PhD students or postdocs.) Reckoned in that sense, however, the package is quite generous (close to $1 million).

In other nearby countries (Netherlands, for instance), the support is not nearly so strong: typically just one student supported by the university, and relatively limited budgets.

  • 3
    Sounds like you got a pretty sweet deal! :)
    – posdef
    Apr 16, 2015 at 13:23
  • 5
    That's a great deal for a Juniorprofessor. I think most Juniorprofessors have exactly 0 package.
    – xLeitix
    Apr 16, 2015 at 13:32

Bit late to this, but thought I'd add something to it as it was a question I had when I first made the jump to PI.

I'm sure it is field specific, so I can only answer for my field - molecular biology.

Firstly, tenure, in the US sense is not just uncommon in the UK, it does not exist for new hires. It was abolished by law in the 80s. There are a few tenured professors left who got it before the abolition, but there are fewer every year.

Start up packages: In the UK, in my field at least, large start up packages are fairly rare. When I took my job the deal was: little cash, but if there is a particular piece of kit you literally can't do your work without, we will consider it.

In the end my deal was: £10K in cash to spend as I saw fit and a 3.5 year PhD studentship with a total of £15K research and training support grant (RTSG). Calling around others I knew in the same field who had got their jobs recently, it seemed that this was pretty standard, if not a little on the generous side.

As for how you are supposed to fund your research? Roll up your sleeves and apply for government grants. Success rates are currently 15%, and to keep your (non-tenure) job, you'll be needing one within the first three years. Oh and in the UK you can't resubmit a grant that overlaps with something you've submitted before.

  • @lan Sudbery: what is common for the Uk instead of tenure track? What position the people normally have at the beginning of their job as a teacher at universities (after postdoc)? What is it called?
    – m123
    Mar 24 at 15:33
  • 1
    @m123 there are basically two ways in. The position i describe above is a lectureship. That is the closest match to a US style tenure track position at an R01. The alternative is an independent fellowship. Here you are entirely funded (salary and research costs) by an external funder. Many universities will promise you an open ended (research and teaching) contract at the end if you bring your fellowship to their university. Mar 25 at 16:38
  • @lan Sudbery: Thanks.
    – m123
    Mar 25 at 18:54

You must log in to answer this question.

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