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Academic Careers

The Academic Careers thematic hub is one of the four research hubs at CWTS. This thematic hub is led by Inge van der Weijden and Guus Dix.


Universities have changed quite substantially in recent decades in terms of their tasks, structure and culture. Like other public organisations, they are increasingly financed in an output-oriented manner and the emphasis on performance indicators has increased accordingly. In addition, universities have expanded rapidly leading to higher numbers of (international) students and lower government funding per student. Research funding, moreover, has become more competitive and geared towards short-term deliverables and societal impact.

In light of these substantial developments we ask: What does it mean to pursue a career in academia nowadays? The thematic hub Academic Careers aims to provide a platform for researchers and stakeholders who address this question in a systematic and reflexive manner. We invite qualitative and quantitative researchers to contribute to our understanding of the historical development, the current status and future prospects of academic careers.

In order to better understand career development in academia, we consider two things to be particularly important. On the one hand, academic careers are made by the people who pursue them and their perspectives are hence of vital importance to us. We study their motivation as well as their working experiences. On the other hand, academic careers are affected by all kinds of developments beyond the academic’s reach. We study the development of career and funding policies at the organisational, the national and the European level.

Research topics

  • Doctoral Education (e.g. supervision, progress, mental health, informal care)
  • Working conditions of postdoctoral researchers
  • Career tracks of PhD holders inside and outside academia
  • Skill development of academics
  • HRM policies at the faculty and university level
  • Policymaking at national and international funding bodies
  • The politics of higher education
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