From a review of Professor Untat, a new book by Uwe Kamenz and Martin Werle:

…. [P]rofessors [in Germany] have an extreme form of tenure, so that for them, unemployment simply does not exist. There are also no real controls within the system, so they are left very much to their own devices.

The result, the authors argue, is that only a third of the large body of German professors work hard and with integrity, while about a fifth abuse the system to the limit.

[They get] their doctoral students to do a large proportion of their teaching and administration, and most or even all of their research, while still passing themselves off as the authors.

… These beleaguered doctoral students work incredibly long hours on all manner of activities and projects. They often have little time during the week to work on their own doctorates, and receive little in the way of supervision.

All of this is possible because professors in German academia are in a position of total power over their doctoral students – and because the latter desperately want to earn their degrees.

Some of the activities described in Professor Untat take some beating. On the teaching front, professors block their courses so that they need to be on campus only two or three days a week – during semesters, that is.

Furthermore, “lectures” often comprise little more than PowerPoint presentations prepared by doctoral students. In such cases, the latter inevitably are more in command of the material than the academics who present it.

In the worst cases, sabbaticals are used either for extended holidays or to engage in lucrative consultancy work…

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2 Responses to “Teutonic Twats”

  1. theprofessor Says:

    The German profs I know are incredibly prolific researchers, but they do have what are essentially academic slaves to help. Most of the ones I know don’t ever teach undergraduates. I know a woman in Austria who is an excellent and well-regarded researcher in her own right, but she is in her mid-50s and has played a very 2nd fiddle (basically a glorified research assistant in terms of position and salary) to the one full prof in her institute for nearly 30 years.

  2. DM Says:

    My German colleagues who are full profs indeed seem to be some kind of local half-gods. They have a group named after them, with lots of subservient PhD students and assistant researchers, and even one or two secretaries.

    Needless to say, the prof signs everything from his group. My German postdoc offered me to be a co-author on his article, even though my work on the topic basically amounted to listening to him on a whiteboard and raising some objections or asking for examples. I assume it was the habit that the boss signs everything, and now I’m his boss.

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