I have recently been offered a tenure-track position in a very prestigious northern European university. I am currently a lecturer in a smaller UK university but I have six years of experience between my post-docs and appointment as a lecturer.

The level of appointment would be as a an Assistant Professor. Here, I am a "tenured" Senior Lecturer (which should be a bit higher), however being a non-intensive research university, there were an easier set of requirements. I feel more like a glorified post-doc with more teaching responsibilities than a full lecturer (but don't tell them that!). Indeed the level of research support is non-comparable. In the two years I have been here I have not had the possibility of supervising PhD students as there are no resources, beyond a few temporary post-docs I have been able to fund. Which is my main motivation for leaving (and Brexit).

Still, I feel the experience I have accrued should be recognised a bit more. Since the assistant professorship is also something they could be offering to a very good newly minted PhD or an early post-doc.

They say that "almost-always" a five-year tenure-track position results in a promotion to a tenured Associate Position. However my negotiating experience is really low, and coming from a Southern European background, all wages seem astronomical compared to what I was earning as a PhD back home.

My question is: how should I argue my case? Should I be asking for an earlier tenure time? It could be also counter-productive, for example if all my grant applications are rejected. If you have been in a similar situation, what did you ask for?

  • 1
    Do you know anyone at the target university which you could consult with?
    – Bitwise
    Jan 30, 2017 at 12:58
  • 12
    Congratulations on your offer! It is not clear to me what you want to negotiate for. A higher salary? A faster tenure clock? More student support? Something else? I feel for any negotiating you should have clear goals, not just a vague feeling that you may "deserve more of something".
    – xLeitix
    Jan 30, 2017 at 14:03
  • 1
    With regards to the tenure clock - I understand that in Northern Europe the tenure track should often be understood as a "maximum time" anyway. That is, if you come with more experience, it seems to be not uncommon that you can start the tenure process (much) earlier than your 5-year TT. I would start the discussion with how likely this is.
    – xLeitix
    Jan 30, 2017 at 14:05
  • 3
    Consider what might happen if you negotiate a shorter than normal tenure period and then come up for tenure without having met the standard. It is very likely in your interest to have the longer probationary period too improve your tenure case. Jan 30, 2017 at 15:51
  • 7
    @TheWanderer I doubt that they will guarantee you tenure - that would sort of defeat the purpose, wouldn't it? The best one can usually hope for is a written document that nails down, as clearly as possible, the tenure requirements, and then you can decide for yourself how fast, or if at all, you will be able to satisfy them.
    – xLeitix
    Jan 30, 2017 at 18:25

3 Answers 3


Your question, "how should I argue my case?" is unanswerable without a statement of what your "case" is. With any job offer, you state what you want, and the other party agrees or disagrees. A vague feeling that you should be "recognised a bit more" doesn't matter. What is it that would make you more likely to take the position, or make it more likely that, given the position, you'd be successful at it? Also: Congratulations!


Given your level of previous expertise, it would indeed be reasonable to ask for appointment at a higher level or a reduced tenure time. Sometimes a university would be able to offer an appointment at something like an associate professor level with a reduced tenure track period (anything from one to three years could be appropriate).

Try to ask someone at this university, maybe the head of the search committee, maybe your (future) head of department or division, or maybe the person you're negotiating with whether a higher-level appointment and/or reduced tenure track time would be possible. Point to your previous achievements and explain in which way they already show what would be required from you in a tenure evaluation (teaching, publications, obtained funding for post-docs, ...).

While it won't hurt asking for it, be prepared that depending on the actual context of this position they might not be able to offer a higher level appointment.

  • 1
    Shorter time to tenure only helps if you actually manage to hit all necessary conditions in the allotted time (assuming a "tenure or out" scenario). Jul 12, 2017 at 13:26
  • @FábioDias Indeed, it's mostly useful if achievements on previous positions can also be taken into account for the tenure evaluation.
    – silvado
    Jul 12, 2017 at 22:48

You didn't say what the job market is like Europe in your field. Typically, there is a lot of competition for tenure-track jobs at very prestigious universities. In light of that, my advice is to accept the job graciously (not grudgingly, and not giddily), and work at the university for at least a year before asking for anything better than what you were offered. That's because you might find that colleagues who are better qualified and more accomplished than you received offers with the same terms you've been offered, or perhaps worse terms, in which case you would seem to be unappreciative or worse, unrealistic. Of course, you might find that everybody haggled for better terms, and feel like a sucker, but it's better to err on the side of humility than in the direction of arrogance when starting a new job in academia.

  • 4
    I am not certain this is the right advice. I would guess one's negotiating position is stronger now than it would be in a year...
    – Dawn
    Mar 7, 2017 at 13:43
  • 5
    I'm not an expert on senior hires, but this almost has to be incorrect. The OP is giving up a tenured position to join the tenure track. This is taking a significant risk: the time for negotiation is now, when OP could potentially still say no, and keep his/her current, tenured job.
    – AJK
    Mar 7, 2017 at 22:22
  • @AJK Two thoughts: 1) Often senior hires take up more resources, so are held to a higher standard when being considered, and 2) The OP is not currently happy or supported in their current tenured position. Just being tenured does not alone make a job appealing.
    – Fomite
    Mar 7, 2017 at 23:56

You must log in to answer this question.

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