Region by region, brief notes on academic job search

English: Biometric passport of Republic of Tur...
English: Biometric passport of Republic of Turkey Türkçe: Türkiye Cumhuriyeti biyometrik pasaportları (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As some of my careful readers already know, I have been looking jobs abroad for a while. I would say, this is not as intense as I had started at the moment. I did find a good solution for the next year- I will write about in another post- and I will see what happens in future and in the meantime, I stopped looking. Lack of intensity comes from the fact that I do like my current position, my current university. I guess I would not leave my university for another domestic university if the offer is not extraordinary. The reasons I want to go abroad… I guess some are already outlined here and I won’t go into more details.

As my job search has ended for the moment, I would like to offer my brief observations. I do not claim to find the truth. I might be mistaken, I accept. But these are the subjective finds I gradually accumulated:

A few general observations: If you do not have indexed publications OR if you did not have funded projects, YOU HAVE CHANCES. I would say getting funds may be more important than publications at the moment. I did regularly publish, and I am mostly satisfied with what I have done and I continuously have new research agendas but as long as these do not lead to indexed publications, they are not signs of any achievement. Besides, publications should be in English. I happened to miss the early project mentality and I see that this is not good, too. I am involved in many projects as expert or trainer but that is not enough and I believe project application process is a kind of art and expertise I seem to miss at the moment. Networking in academia is still vital. All these observations are made from a position of having only a regular Turkish passport.

Academic Positions in the UK

Maybe I am located in İstanbul, kind of in Europe, I see more job openings in European Universities with a focus on the UK one. This leads to many heartbreaks. One of my stronger aspects is teaching but UK has a certification system- as far as I understand- and without proper certification, it is hard to prove that you are good at teaching.

What is worse is the fact that if you are not a UK- EU etc citizen, basically if you are a Turkish citizen, those supposedly “progressive” academics will not bother with visa issues. I was told informally that they prefer not to deal with visa sponsorship issues. In two cases, when I was close to being employed, some colleagues with proper passports were preferred.

UK applications are detailed, sometimes excel-sheet based and in the end, you do not have much chance.

Academic Positions in Scandinavian countries

This is one of the regions I would love to spend the rest of my life. However, [Of course, there are exceptions!] applying for a position in this region might be one of the most hypocritical processes: In principle, this is the most transparent application process. A review committee is appointed- mostly from other universities- you are regularly notified about the process- and even after the appointment is done- and you- [you might have realized when I say “you” I mostly refer to myself] fail after a long wait. Under the guise of transparency, these universities maybe misleading naive applicants. I heard at least in two instances that before the process began, some candidates were ready to be recruited. I felt like despite massive differences between Turkey and Scandinavian counties, their academies are closest in recruitment processes.

Besides, potential to get funding is over-emphasized. I feel like the wealth of these nations are not shared with their academia.

Moreover, you are asked to promise that you will learn the native language in near future. Sort of understandable, but not necessarily a good thing in a supposedly cosmopolitan academic system.

Academic Positions in the US

This is huge and I do not exactly know what happens here. There is a relative financial crisis but the higher education system is bigger than any other regions. I assume there are might be several patterns. I guess next year I will have more to learn about the system. I feel like, from a distance, review committees prefer to invite those who are not abroad.  Indexed publications are particularly important and networking is also vital.

Academic Positions in the Gulf Region

What I have in my mind are the major American universities that are located in rich Gulf region countries. You live secluded lives with other expats like you. I believe this might be an easier way -but still not too easy- to be part of a major American university. And this might be good to save money for future. As far as I remember, I haven’t tried this yet. Besides, there are other regions of the world that US universities are investing in. Singapore is a rising star and I just hear UCSD has a campus in Georgia.

Academic Positions in (Northern) Cyprus

Here I mean the Turkish part. It is an isolated piece and under the dominion of Turkey. If you are looking for a political exit, this is definitely not the place. But if you like to work as if you are on a vacation, to save some money and to have a good time- local people are great as long as you do not act arrogant of being from Turkey, food and drinks are delicious and cheap- then this might be safe haven. However, I am not sure academically you will be better off.

Academic Positions in Germany

I have once sent an application package through postal mail. I have never received a reply. However, not all German universities are like that. I mean you can apply online. I find the application processes obstruse and instead of permanent positions, you find short-term fellowships relatively easy. I am glad that many peace academics could find opportunities here.  Otherwise, I find not chances here.

Academic Positions in France

I have absolutely no idea. But I know francophone friends/ colleagues can find opportunities. French shools are relatively well established and many graduates find ways to continue their academic careers there. But for me, as a more American-British based educated person, I see the country as blank.


Please feel free to comment, to send advises or refutations. I am open to suggestions and I believe this post is an ongoing one….

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