News nr. 23 | September/October 2011
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Clarification about Carreer Progression of Academics at the Univ. of Lisbon-Rector A. Sampaio Nóvoa


1. Career progression of academics
Since 2006 there has not been a single case of career progression of academics at the University of Lisbon, in strict compliance with the provisions of Law no. 43/2005 of 29 August, State Budget for 2008, Law no. 12-A/2008 of 27 February, and of the University Academic Careers Regulations, which make career progression depending on the new performance appraisal system. Recently, the Regulation on the Performance Evaluation of Lecturers was approved, in accordance with the provisions of the University Academic Careers Regulations (article 74 A). Under the terms of these Regulations (article 74 C), the realization of the evaluation process could lead to changes in remuneration. However, this possibility is expressly prohibited by the State Budget for 2011.

Following examination of the appropriate administrative documentation, it has been confirmed that since 2006 there has been no career progression or change in the remuneration of lecturers at the University of Lisbon. 

Compliance with the budgetary laws has been so rigorous that not even the pay increases resulting from successful completion of public aggregation examinations have been made. The University of Lisbon believes that lecturers who attain aggregate status are entitled to those pay rises, but it decided not to confirm them until the government answers the request for clarification on this matter sent by the Council of Rectors of Portuguese Universities.

2. Recruitment of associate professors and professors.
A different situation occurs in the presence of international tenders for the recruitment of associate professors and full professors, which is provided for in our legislation and implemented by selection boards made up of professors external to the University of Lisbon, to which all candidates who meet the requirements can apply.
In recent years, given the budgetary situation of the University, these tenders have been announced on an exceptional basis for reasons of public interest and for purposes of filling posts deemed to be vital to ensure the normal functioning of the institution.

On this matter, four key points must be disclosed:

1. Portuguese law imposes a requirement to universities which, if not fulfilled, will have very negative consequences for the accreditation of degrees and assessment of institutions: “the number of full time professors and associate professors at an institution of higher education institution must account for between 50% and 70% of the total number of tenured lecturers”. Tenders must be opened gradually to ensure compliance with this requirement (article 84 of the University Academic Careers Regulations).

2. Currently, there are 919 tenured lecturers at the University of Lisbon, of whom only 347 are associate professors and full professors. This means that this group of lecturers represents only 38% of the total number of tenured lecturers, far from the minimum 50% stipulated by law. In the absence of any tender for the recruitment of associate and full professors, namely to replace those who retire, the University of Lisbon will be in breach of the law and, worse still, will be moving away from the objectives set out therein.

3. In the last five years, the total number of associate and full professors at the University of Lisbon has fallen from 386 to 347, that is, a decrease of more than 10%.

4. According to the document just published by the Directorate General for Higher Education (INDEZ 2010, September 2011), out of the total number of lecturers at institutions of higher education, the University of Lisbon is, by far, the university that has had the biggest reduction in the number of teaching staff, with a decrease of 12%.

In the other state universities, seven increased their number of teaching staff (Azores, ISCTE, Algarve, Porto, Madeira, UTAD, and UBI), three kept the same number (Minho, Aveiro and UNL) and only four had a reduction in the number of academic staff, but with percentages that vary only between 2% and 6% (Évora, UTL, Coimbra and Aberta). These figures are extraordinarily illuminating with regard to the containment, rigour and strictness that have been pursued at the University of Lisbon.

In short: the University of Lisbon has pursued very strict and restrictive policies in recruiting its staff over the past five years, to partially offset the number of departing lecturers, mostly due to retirement.

The University of Lisbon has been, without any doubt, the institution that has put in place a more restrictive policy in terms of recruitment, replacement and management of its teaching body. 

This policy has been carried out at a time when the University has increased its number of students and annual number of graduates: the data from the last three years is as follows:
Students: 22226; 22844; 23758
Graduates/year 3638; 3956; 5121

The University of Lisbon is not proud of this policy, because it is having negative consequences on the quality of the education provided, with departments without a minimally acceptable number of associate and full professors, and it has also hampered the necessary generational renewal through the entry of new members of staff.

However, we acknowledge that, in the face of the current situation the country is going through, there was no other solution. With responsibility, we have been implementing it, attempting, as much as possible, to mitigate its negative effects for the quality of education and the progress of the university.

3. Current legal framework 
Current legislation is clear on this point. On the one hand, there is the law on higher education, particularly RJIES and ECDU, which forces us to maintain a minimum number of tenured lecturers with a PhD, and which states that a minimum percentage of these must be full and associate professors. On the other hand, there are the budgetary laws that, in recent years, have imposed severe restrictions on recruitment and replacement of staff.

The State Budget Law for 2011 provides in Article 44: “During 2011, the exceptional recruitment of lecturers employed by state higher education institutions is necessarily preceded by authorisation of the rector, as long as the requirement in point a) of the previous clause is complied with”.

This point stipulates that the maximum number of staff to be recruited depends on the following:

“The existence of relevant public interest in recruiting, after assessment of the eventual shortage of human resources in the activity sector the recruitment is aimed at”.

Following the analysis of all tenders made in recent years at the University of Lisbon, one concludes that there has been a strict and rigorous enforcement of the law.

4. Decisions and tendering procedures at the University of Lisbon Despite the situation described above, the University of Lisbon has found it useful to draw up a Rector’s Dispatch (Rector’s Dispatch R/87/2010, of 1 September 2010), which was widely publicised on the website of the University and communicated to the Government, stating the criteria to be followed in the “recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff so as to ensure a judicious and rational management of human resources”

This Rector’s Dispatch was examined by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, based on legal and technical information prepared by the Secretariat General of the Ministry, and was approved by it as per letter 2011/1873/DSRHO, of 21 June 2011.

5. Conclusion The University of Lisbon has exemplary complied with the law with regard to tenders and stopping teachers’ career progression. It has reduced its teaching body and carried out an unprecedented streamlining of its teaching resources.
The University of Lisbon shall pursue this restrictive policy of containment as much as it is possible, but it cannot fail to comply with the law, namely with regard to the RJIES and ECDU, which impose clear rules regarding the number of lecturers with PhDs and the minimum percentage of tenured full professors and associate professors.

In line with the practice followed in recent years, the University of Lisbon is ready, from this very moment, to provide all necessary explanations to the competent authorities, the academic university, the media, and the general public. 

Lisbon, 20 September 2011
António Sampaio da Nóvoa

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