I see many job openings for "docent" or "Universitair docent" on Dutch job boards. Curious, I checked out Wikipedia for more info and, while I learned about the structure there, it isn't clear to me what the differences in the two profiles are. The salary scale is the same, after all.

Also, if I apply for a "docent" position, is it feasible to request that I be considered as a "Universitair docent" in light of my exemplary experience and so on?

1 Answer 1


"Docent" or "D" or "gepromoveerd docent" is a teaching-only position (or with a minimum amount of research time, like 20%), while a "Universitair Docent" or "UD" is someone who has much more research time (e.g., 40%). Also, there are much more tenured UD's ("UD met een vast contract") than tenured D's. After I finished my PhD, I was docent for a year (basically because I did not get an UD position), basically teaching a lot, then I became UD, and now I'm a tenured UD.

While there are some exceptions, a rule of thumb could be that a D-position is a teaching-only and often something temporarily, while a UD position is something that can be potentially permanent and involves research time.

  • Thanks! This position doesn't seem to be so focused on teaching. Actually, they ask for more research and supervision related responsibilities. Sounds more like UD than D, no? Do you think HR would be open to reconsideration if I make a gentle suggestion?
    – Teusz
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 8:33
  • 3
    You can always ask. It might also be that they have certain quota. For example, in my department, the ratio D/UD/UHD/HL has to be the same across different groups, so one group cannot simply hire only UDs. But whatever you do, EVERYONE will understand that you ultimately want to be an UD. For example, when I was D, there was a mutual understanding that I did this as a temporarily solution.
    – damian
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 8:36
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    @Teusz in NL, supervision is considered teaching.
    – damian
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 8:37
  • @damian Is it possible to go from Docent to Universitair Docent? I'm finishing my PhD and was offered a Docent position. I discussed with my supervisor and he never heard of such a position and thinks it would be really difficult to migrate to AP later. He suggests going for a Postdoc. Do you have any thoughts about it? Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 11:15
  • In fact, I did that. After my PhD, I was a "docent" (100% teaching) for 9 months or so, and a "universitair docent" (=assistant professor) afterwards. It's actually quite common, I'd say. The problem is that if you are too long on the 'docent' position without research time, you simply may get out of touch with research/publishing, which may create problems in the long run.
    – damian
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 14:25

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