No longer the “iron rice bowl” 985 college associate professor does not want to roll again

After realizing that he had lost his passion for research, in 2018, Li Feng decided to leave. At that time, he had already served in a 985 university for seven years, is an associate professor of chemistry.

But Li Feng did not want to “roll” anymore.

Promoted to associate professor before, his school’s young teachers at the end of each year to face abcd rating, according to the papers and funds to score, “take c people no bonus, the next year’s salary to play seven or eight discounts, not two years, the evaluation of c people left. “So much so that, “about 5% of people leave each year “.

“No school will put the words ‘promote or leave’ in plain language, but there will always be people leaving. ” Li Feng told All Now.

And the evaluation of the associate professor Li Feng feel “like Sisyphus”. “A lifetime of never-ending pushing stones, there will never be a point of satisfaction”. His previous group had 16 people and took 35 million in funding each year. Li Feng as the “second boss”, both busy with scientific research, laboratory management, but also to find some personnel talk, responsible for writing applications.

In recent years, as discussions about the pressure on young college teachers have surfaced, the public’s past professional imagination of university teachers has been shattered – there was once a widespread myth that university teaching was a “relatively easy “relatively easy” career, mostly based on the “iron rice bowl” nature of the past and the annual ” nature, as well as the annual summer and winter vacations. But in fact, in recent years, due to the “promotion or leave” system, many of them are faced with heavy research tasks, as well as the need to complete teaching and administrative assessments. In fact, in recent years, many of them have been faced with heavy research tasks, as well as the need to complete teaching and administrative assessments, especially for young faculty at top universities.

The “suffering of young teachers” has become a hot topic frequently. The “promotion-or-exit” system has also become a keyword in the public and commentary discussions on this topic.


The “roll” that Li Feng felt began when he graduated from his undergraduate program in 2006.

“At that time, if you do not direct the blog, in the middle of reading a master’s degree, in our opinion is a little shameful thing. “Li Feng recalled afterwards,” it is also out of a climbing, academic cult mentality. This phenomenon has only since been alleviated. “His undergraduate studies in chemistry at a 985 university, there was fierce competition among classmates.

The cult of academic qualifications and the consequent intensifying academic competition are not unrelated to the expansion of PhD recruitment. Data released by the Ministry of Education show that the expansion of undergraduate students in China’s colleges and universities began in 1999, and the size of the student population in postgraduate education has increased significantly, while the number of people earning Ph.D.s has also been growing in the past two decades. in 2008, China awarded 44,000 Ph.D.s, making it the largest Ph.D.-granting country in the world. in 2019, Ph.D. graduates reached 62,600. From 1978-2019, the enrollment of doctoral students in China has made a historical leap from 18 to 105,200 in 41 years.

“Like a flock of sheep, they flocked to the ship of master’s degree and never got off after they went up. “When studying for a PhD, Li Feng was once confused, he did not think about what he wanted to do in the future. There was a time when Li Feng was scolded by his supervisor at the weekly group meetings. In his second year in the lab, he only published one paper, but the impact factor was high; then later, his mind was relatively more balanced. After five years of master’s degree, Feng Li graduated successfully, but his achievements were not outstanding.

In 2011, Feng Li entered a 985 university. After this, he embarked on a relatively smooth academic path, less than two years, became the youngest associate professor in the unit at that time. And 80% of the people who competed with him when he first started working finally left.

But after this, he gradually realized that “scientific research is more of a drudgery, to constantly catch up with those projects. “

At the busiest time, he was involved in five research projects at the same time. In order to win the “race”, “everyone had to We have to try our best to shorten our respective cycles. In a large scale experiment, the work and output can be split into multiple research results. An article submitted to multiple journals can publish five articles with high impact factors at the same time, which means more topics and bonuses.

For research teams, the NSF application funding rate (for universities, this is the approval rate) varies among academic departments, but in general, competition has become more intense over the past decade. 2020 NSF funding rate is around 15.88%, another record low.

The increase in overall application difficulty has also led to varying decreases in the approval rates of major universities, but there are still universities that have been able to achieve funding rates of up to 30%, or even 40% or more – and they are often top universities. According to statistics, the university with the highest approval rate for NSF surface project applications in 2019 is Tsinghua University, with 254 approved projects and a funding rate of 40.16%. Among the universities with the number of approved projects higher than 300, Peking University has the highest funding rate of 34.21%.

In the school where Feng Li works, the publication of SCI with high impact factor, national projects, etc. are all mandatory criteria for the evaluation of titles. Sometimes, he needs to do experiments overnight because “once the experiment starts, it can’t be stopped. “.

“There are also some very barbaric practices in this academic race,” Li Feng mentioned a “rule of the road” – “the subject occupies the project “, that is, scholars are “occupied” by the projects they have applied for. . For example, some projects have a four-year completion period, but scholars cannot apply for the project themselves for three years after a successful application. This means that more new people need to apply to the program. “The total target of projects to be taken by the college is too high. The group I am in has to take 35 million per year, but the national projects are only a few hundred thousand to a million, and some provincial and ministerial projects are only 50,000, and the green pepper is taken after these projects are ‘occupied’, can not apply again. The Ministry of Science and Technology of those tens of millions of projects are the leading talent to get, so the College does not care about the ‘pepper’, the more the better, the more can be accomplished funding goals. “

On the other hand, human energy is limited, after a successful application in the previous year, in the advancement of the project will also lead to the same researcher in the next year of a new wave of project applications, there will not be too much space. “It has a big and small year, just like an apple tree that produces more apples this year and definitely less next year, which is the law of nature. But the school does not respect the law of nature, it has to have projects every year. “Li Feng further explained that this leads to the elderly face the crisis of being eliminated, because the school to replace the “fresh blood “Come in – just graduated, not occupied by the project, you can apply for new topics, get new money.

For the “greenhorns”, if they want to stay in the top-ranked, more resourceful schools, they first have to be in Stay in the “promotion or leave” system.


The “promotion-or-go” system is more accurately referred to as the ” pre-employment-permanent appointment system. This means that new teachers are required to sign an employment contract with the school, and if the appointee is not promoted within a maximum of two pre-employment periods, the employment relationship is automatically terminated. Teachers who pass the inspection are granted permanent tenure and can be hired until state retirement age as long as there are no serious violations of the law.

This is an “import” that has its origins in the North American tenure-track system, a concept closely related to academic freedom in the Western context. In the Western context, this concept is closely related to academic freedom, and the security of tenure allows a professor to research and teach any topic, even controversial ones. For the length of the probationary period, U.S. universities basically follow the requirements of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) – the maximum probationary period should not exceed seven years.

At the end of 2014, two universities, Tsinghua University and Peking University, were the first to adopt a personnel reform program and started to implement “promotion or leave”, and since then, other universities have also implemented it. Since then, other universities have also implemented it. According to incomplete statistics, as of January this year, 49 universities in China have implemented the “promotion-or-go” system. Most of them are “double first-class universities”, which used to belong to 985″ and “211 Most of them are “double first-class universities,” which used to belong to “985” and “211” universities. Most universities offer two pre-employment periods totaling six years, or “3+3”.

“But almost no one will want to wait until the 6th year – the situation in domestic universities is that it usually takes 3 to 4 years to go from lecturer to associate senior. ” Yu Qingbang revealed to All Now.

Yu Qingbang, 39, got an appointment as an associate professor at a “double-class” university last year. He has been engaged in academic research for more than ten years since his doctoral studies. During his doctoral studies, he and his classmates were envious of the teacher’s work status: at that time, his school adopted the “long-term appointment system” and could focus on academics. However, he did not expect that the situation would be different after graduation.

In 2016, Yu Qingbang joined the university where he works now. The settlement fee is the same as a dozen years ago, 30,000 yuan; the research start-up fee is 10,000 yuan. After deducting 3,000 yuan of rent for the school apartment every month, he arrived at just over 3,000 yuan. Before joining, he had no idea how the treatment would be, and the contract did not state the salary level. “There was no choice at all, it’s good to be given a teaching position, which qualifies you to bargain. “

But compared to other colleagues, he was lucky in some ways: he joined a research institute, and unlike other faculties, he did not have to attend classes or do administrative work, but only needed to rest assured that he was doing research. four years later, he was successfully evaluated for the title of associate professor and received a “tenured teaching position The university where Yu Qingbang is working, he was awarded the title of associate professor.

The university where Yu Qingbang works uses a set of quantitative evaluation criteria that was initiated more than ten years ago to assess his title. In order to obtain the title of associate professor, he needs to publish a monograph, five papers in core journals, one of which needs to be an authoritative journal, and a subject of provincial or ministerial level or above.

These criteria are not easy to complete, and Yu Qingbang has friends around him who have applied for the project for four or five years without success. Yu Qingbang remembers that during his doctoral studies, a professor gave them a final assignment in class that was the content of the topic, and finally the professor compiled the final assignment into a book and closed it as a national project. “Many doctoral students are willing to give their supervisors to do the project, as a phase of the supervisor’s project research results, easy to publish. “

This is what many scholars call “saving results”. In the case of lack of titles, past research results, to a considerable extent, also determine the resources that a person can obtain in the academic system.

Most domestic journals use the “contract system”. A journal editor who knows Yu Qingbang well reveals that journals also have the pressure of ranking and evaluation, and one of the quantitative criteria is the number of citations. Generally speaking, if you ask a “famous” author for a manuscript, the possibility of the article being cited is higher. As a result, most journals’ submission email addresses are virtually useless – submissions can only be valid if they have the editor’s personal weibo or email address.

Papers are also tied to faculty performance. Performance bonuses paid at the end of the year are based on the number of papers published. Yu Qingbang revealed that for a paper in an ordinary journal, the bonus at the end of the year is three or four thousand dollars; if it is a journal like “Chinese Social Sciences”, some schools can even issue a bonus of 100,000 yuan.

“Head competition”

“We are now seeing the ‘ascend or leave’ system ‘green pepper in-roll’, a phenomenon that exists mainly in the ‘double first-class’ universities, especially those at the top. In fact, not all doctoral graduates and green peppers have the opportunity to ‘roll up’. “Wei Kang believes that. 33-year-old Wei Kang was just rated as an associate professor last year, and after getting his doctorate in engineering in 2016, he entered a “double first-class” university in the southwest ” university to join. He explained to All Now that this is somewhat like a term commonly used in the Internet industry – “head competition “, because the ranking of the university you are in also largely determines the academic resources you can get.

He played an analogy, “If a person wants to do academic, ta past academic level is also high, and a career three private schools to ta throw olive branch, or even a high salary to hire, ta willing to go? Most are not willing to go, because the school may be in the allocation of resources simply can not support the ta to do research. “

Wei Kang revealed that some schools in order to attract talent, will also open the terms of entry that is awarded associate professor, just still have to face the promotion assessment – is also “non-promotion that go “, “This is really a benefit for some people. With the title of associate professor, it is much easier to apply for projects than lecturers. “And newly promoted faculty with these associate professor titles also tend to earn slightly higher levels of income than their counterparts in the old system.

The context in which this system can be achieved is the decentralization of title review. in 2017, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security issued the Interim Measures for Supervising the Review of College Teachers’ Titles, which clearly put forward that the right to review college teachers’ titles is directly decentralized to colleges and universities, and that those who do not yet have independent review capabilities can adopt joint review or delegated review, with the main responsibility borne by colleges and universities.

“So the best people are willing to go to schools with good conditions. A bit of ‘drought of drought, flooding of flooding’. “Wei Kang believes that this is a “high-risk, high-reward “The competition also directly brings about the improvement of research efficiency.

The higher the academic ranking of the universities, the more stringent the assessment criteria, the more intense the competition. Liu Rui, a doctor in the field of social sciences who is an associate professor at a “double first-class” university, told All Now that at his school, the results of the review for participation in associate professorship must be in the last three years In the case of professors, it must be within five years. This is equivalent to saying that it requires to be academically active in the most recent review cycle – if you want to be evaluated as a professor at the age of 40, something written after the age of 35 is valid.

Liu Rui says that in his field of humanities and social sciences, “it’s getting harder and harder to submit to domestic journals.” “If you envision submitting a manuscript, passing an anonymous review, and getting it published if it’s of good quality, I’m afraid it’s very difficult. Even if the quality of the manuscript is very good, you often need to ask for connections, or some schools have their own journals, always more or less have to have some connections. The more famous the person is, the higher the position in the academic circle, or the more likely it is that the college has its own journal, the easier it is to submit the manuscript successfully. “

There are even two “standards” for core journals: the core of Peking University and the core of Nanjing University, which are the core journals listed by Peking University and Nanjing University respectively. In terms of influence, the latter is the most authoritative of its kind in China, and is more difficult to be selected than the former. “Which one do you look at when evaluating titles? Theoretically, it is the core of NU, but sometimes the school is more flexible, when the competition is not fierce, you can also press the core of Peking University. “