Memo regarding co-financing of postdocs and assistant professors

March 2023

The department has experienced a marked growth in the number of assistant professors and postdocs over the past few years. The hiring model for this group has become a major issue and has given rise to a number of considerations, dilemmas, and strategic choices. At the end of 2022, this group encompassed around 45 employees based on three funding models: 1) postdocs exclusively funded by external grants (currently 24); 2) assistant professors funded by the department (currently 7); and 3) assistant professors co-funded by external projects and the department (currently 14).

This memo summarizes the different considerations related to hiring postdocs and assistant professors and describes the new procedure for co-financing assistant professorships. Regarding the criteria for hiring PhDs, postdocs, assistant professors, associate professors and full professors, please see “Memo on hiring scientific personnel at the Department of Political Science, Aarhus University”.


The hiring model gives rise to a number of considerations:

  1. The group is crucial to the recruitment of associate professorships, and it is important that the hiring model ensures opportunities to develop the research and teaching competences needed to be competitive in international calls for associate professorships, which attract many strong applicants.
  2. The hiring model must support a diverse pool of applicants for associate professorships at the department, particularly in terms of gender. Experience shows that the international pool of applicants for associate professorships is dominated by men, so the gender balance among internal applicants is essential to achieve a gender-balanced group of applicants for associate professorships. It is therefore important that the hiring model counteracts the “leaky pipeline” trend.
  3. The hiring model must ensure a broad pool of applicants for associate professorships in terms of political science subfields. Experience shows that most international applicants for associate professorships represent specific research areas within the department, which challenges diversity in our education.
  4. The model must ensure a good work environment within the postdoc/assistant professor group.
  5. The model must support recruitment of talented postdocs for externally funded projects.
  6. The model must be competitive in relation to the institutions we compete with for talented applicants.
  7. The funds that the department commits to the model provide fewer opportunities for associate professor hires. The balance between the group’s size and opportunities for associate professor hires must be considered.
  8. Transparency is important to counter myths surrounding the process.
  9. The department needs flexibility to cover teaching needs as they arise.

The current model

  1. 4-year assistant professorships are funded by the department with 20K commitment.
  2. 3–4-year assistant professorships are co-funded by external projects and the department. The department’s co-funding corresponds to teaching 9K per year. 3-year assistant professors (two years’ external funding) must deliver 15K, and 4-year assistant professors (three years’ external funding) 17K.
  3. 1–2–3-year postdoc positions with 2K teaching per year.

The matter of co-funding with teaching is currently partly based on the need for teachers for specific teaching assignments and partly on considerations about an applicant’s associate professor potential.

Future procedure for co-financing of assistant professors

When filling a postdoc position, the project owners can, in agreement with the candidate, submit a written application for a co-funded assistant professor. The application must include a realistic plan for the future assistant professor’s teaching commitments (15K for 3-year assistant professors, and 17K for 4-year assistant professors). When deciding on the application, emphasis is placed on the match between teaching needs and the candidate’s ability to meet those needs and their professional potential.