Academic mid-level staff

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Academic middle class is the name for the group of scientific and artistic employees at universities . These are examined or graduated scientific staff who do not hold a chair. The official names vary depending on the higher education law . This group includes those academics (or artists at art colleges) and lecturers who are not professors (in Austria, however, there are also “junior professors”, namely associate professors and assistant professors). It is called the Mittelbaubecause there is also the group of students and other, non-academic staff. The group sends representatives to the bodies of academic self-government . However, these committees are usually composed in such a way that the professors have a majority . In Austria there is a third parity in both the study commission and the faculty council (professors, academic mid-level staff, students).


There are different types of employees who belong to the academic mid-level, although the names in Germany, Switzerland and Austria are not uniform and sometimes contradict each other.


The following classification describes the situation in Germany:

  • Employees in qualification positions and third-party funding positions :
    • Scientific and artistic employees on a temporary basis (often doctoral students , often on half-time positions),
    • Scientific assistants (employees with a doctorate who are aiming for a habilitation , older name: university assistants ),
    • Resident physicians at university clinics,
    • University lecturers and private lecturers,
    • many doctors and senior physicians at university hospitals,
    • University lecturers
    • Senior Researcher and Senior Lecturer
    • Temporary academic councilors (usually as post-doctoral candidates)
  • Employees with work on a fee basis or short-term contracts, etc. a .:
    • Lecturer
    • Workers with a work contract
    • research assistants (with master’s degree)


In Austria, the following employees belong to the academic mid-level:

  • extraordinary university professors (ao. Univ.-Prof.)
  • Assistant Professors (Ass.-Prof.)
  • Senior Scientists / Senior Artists
  • University assistants (Univ.-Ass.) With and without a doctorate
  • Project staff
  • Third-party funded employees
  • lecturers employed at the respective university
  • Study assistants

The first three groups are employed for an unlimited period (Senior Scientist) or civil servants (ao. Univ.-Prof., Ass.-Prof.), The others are employed on a temporary basis. All groups are entitled to vote in the faculty conference.

In most subjects, the number of fixed-term mid-level staff by far exceeds that of permanent employees. According to the 2017 Federal Report on Young Scientists , 93% of young researchers at universities are employed on a temporary basis. At non-university research institutions, the figure is 84%. It is no longer possible to continue temporary employment indefinitely in Germany.


Despite the heterogeneous composition of the academic mid-level staff, organizations have been set up at numerous university locations with the purpose of representing interests across departments and careers outside the university-internal committee structures. The aim is to improve working conditions and career prospects. In addition to the established trade unions - the Education and Science Union (GEW) and the United Services Union (Verdi) - who are responsible for negotiating collective agreements in the academic field and the staff and works councils , which are responsible for the legally guaranteed participation in matters of local working conditions, Mittelbau initiatives have emerged at many universities . From 1968 to 1974 the Federal Assistant Conference also existed as a representation at the federal level.

Mittelbau initiatives in Germany
University location Organization name status
FU Berlin FU middle section active
TU Berlin MittelbauINI active
University of Bremen JUNK active since 1994
TU Dresden mid - Mittelbauinitiative Dresden active
University of Frankfurt am Main under_building active
University of Göttingen Mittelbauinitiative Göttingen inactive
University of Heidelberg VAM - Association of academic mid-level faculty at Heidelberg University active since 1969
University of Leipzig MULe - Mittelbauinitiative Leipzig active
University of Munster MiMs - Mittelbauinitiative Münster active
University of Oldenburg Mittelbauinitiative Oldenburg active
University of Stuttgart AKAM - Working Group for Academic Staff active
University of Augsburg Convention of Scientific and Artistic Staff active

In 2017, the network for good work in science was set up in Leipzig with the aim of networking local interest groups nationwide. Central demands range from the abolition of the special law on fixed-term contracts for universities ( WissZeitVG ), an adaptation of the job profiles of advertisements to actual work requirements , to the reform of the professorship principle . The network offers initiatives by the individual universities an overarching platform.

Due to the federalism prevailing in Germany , each federal state has its own state university law . The extent of the precarious work situation as a result of fixed-term contracts thus varies between the various federal states. The implementation of the nationwide WissZeitVG is handled differently at the different locations. The design of the work situation also depends on the local culture of cooperation and discourse. There have been numerous attempts both nationally and nationwide to establish uniform guidelines. In order to partially compensate for the university's fixed-term practice under the given conditions, service agreements by the staff councils can reduce undue hardship . Mittelbauinitiatives, however, aim - as described above - at a general departure from the prevailing employment practice.

Situation at the University of Bremen

The Mittelbauinitiative of the University of Bremen was founded in 1994 (with statutes confirmed in the Academic Senate). In its fourth university amendment in 2017, the state of Bremen paved the way for permanent tenure-track positions . The so-called university lecturer (both limited and unlimited) had existed since the third university amendment. In 2016, a framework code “Contractual situations and framework conditions for employment at the state universities in Bremen” was negotiated and adopted between the senatorial authority, university management, trade unions and interest groups. Its implementation is flanked, among other things, by a previously negotiated service agreement on the duration of employment contracts for employees in the academic mid-level.

Individual evidence

  1. What is the mid-level academic staff? - academics. Archived from the original on October 23, 2017 ; accessed on October 23, 2017 .
  2. Federal Report on Young Scientists 2017 - Statistical data and research findings on doctoral candidates and doctoral candidates in Germany . S. 29 , doi : 10.3278 / 6004603w ( [accessed October 20, 2017]).
  3. Julian Heissler: Interview with Werner Eichhorst on time limit: "Time limit creates uncertainty". September 6, 2017. Retrieved October 23, 2017 .
  4. ^ Franz Josef Schmitt: The Mittelbauinitiative of the TU Berlin. January 12, 2019, accessed February 4, 2019 .
  5. ^ Association of the academic mid-level staff at the University of Heidelberg VAM. In: Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg. June 8, 2010. From, accessed January 10, 2020.
  6. Central Building Conference | Network for good work in science. Retrieved on October 23, 2017 (German).
  7. Network for good work in science: catalog of requirements. August 31, 2017. Retrieved October 23, 2017 .
  8. Lena von Holt, Bayerischer Rundfunk: Network for good work in science: Nice words are not enough - the middle class organizes itself | . February 7, 2017 ( [accessed October 23, 2017]).
  9. Anna Lehmann: Scientists before the election: expensive election campaign topic university . In: The daily newspaper: taz . September 4, 2017, ISSN  0931-9085 ( [accessed October 23, 2017]).
  10. Dr. Andreas Keller, Torsten Steiden, Sonja Staack: Codes for good work in science . Ed .: Union of Education and Science. Frankfurt am Main 2017, ISBN 978-3-944763-46-0 , pp. 211 ( Codes for good work in science ( Memento of January 17, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) [PDF; accessed January 17, 2018]).
  11. Bremen University Act in the version dated August 29, 2017. In: Bremisches Gesetzblatt. Bremen State Parliament, August 29, 2017, archived from the original on January 17, 2018 ; accessed on January 17, 2018 .
  12. Christina Selzer: Mid-term review of the Senate: Excellent science. The Senator for Science, Health and Consumer Protection, archived from the original on January 17, 2018 ; accessed on January 17, 2018 .
  13. Agreement on the duration of the employment contracts of research assistants. In: University of Bremen. May 22, 2016. Retrieved January 17, 2018 .