AU’s programme for promotion from associate professor/senior researcher to professor

Purpose and use

As part of Aarhus University's strategic objectives to develop core activities, research careers and diversity, the university's management has decided that, in exceptional cases, it will be possible to advertise associate professor/senior researcher positions with the option to enter into a programme for promotion to professor. In exceptional cases, this option can also be offered to already employed associate professors/senior researchers.

The promotion programme entails a targeted development plan and a later possibility to transfer from associate professor/senior researcher to professor without advertising the position (cf. the job structure). Transfer to permanent employment as a professor presupposes, and is triggered by, a positive academic assessment based on the same requirements as for open advertisements for a professorship.

The promotion programme will only be applied in exceptional cases. The programme is a supplement to Norms for recruitment with open and broad advertisements, and these will continue to be the primary form of recruitment of researchers at senior level.

The programme is expected to contribute to the further development of AU as an attractive workplace with focus on long-term career development, targeted recruitment and retention of talented academic staff. No quotas have been set for use of the promotion programme. Each individual faculty will manage the programme within the faculty's recruitment and budget frameworks.

The senior management team will monitor use and development annually and will make adjustments if necessary. Similarly, the academic councils will be involved once a year to discuss use and scope in general.

Selection for the promotion programme

The process for selecting candidates for the promotion programme follows the faculties' current guidelines for academic appointments, including professional recognition and inclusion in the process. Selection for the programme is closely linked with other appointments and employment planning, so selection will be linked to the strategic considerations in employment plans and talent development.

In connection with selection for the programme, emphasis will be on documented extraordinary academic initiatives and results. Considerations should also cover how the best qualified candidates can contribute to the strategic and long-term goals of the department/school, for example to improve professional knowledge, diversity, research, education and collaboration within a given academic area. The final selection of associate professors/senior researchers for the promotion programme will be by the dean on the basis of a recommendation from the head of department/school.

The decision regarding selection and whether the promotion programme is to be applied depends on a specific assessment of the candidate's documented qualifications and results, focusing on:

  • Research publications of particularly high quality in leading journals or publishers within their field
  • Teaching efforts and new development of research-based teaching, methods, courses and a PhD programme
  • Applied research/knowledge exchange/public sector consultancy of particularly high quality
  • Management competences at group leader level
  • The ability to build well-functioning professional collegial environments
  • Innovations within collaboration/knowledge sharing
  • Attracting external research funding (at least one major grant based on academic assessment and strong competition, for example ERC, Sapere Aude or larger foundations)


Use #1: Recruitment of new associate professors/senior researchers

In exceptional cases, the promotion programme may be applied in connection with recruitment within disciplines in which researcher mobility is very high and competition for the most promising researchers is particularly strong. In this context, the promotion programme can be one of several recruitment tools.

As a general rule, associate professor/senior researcher positions are advertised in the usual manner in accordance with the recruitment policy of the individual faculty. If, in connection with the advertisement, the hiring manager assesses that there are exceptional recruitment challenges and/or strong international competition, the job advertisement can state that it is possible to agree on entry into the promotion programme in connection with employment. The job advertisement must refer to the university’s guidelines, and it must state that the employee will be transferred to a permanent position at professor level without job advertisement, provided there is a positive academic assessment, typically after three to five years at associate professor level. If applicants wish to be considered, as a supplement to the application, CV and the required appendices, they will have to prepare a short personal statement applying for participation in the programme. This applies to both internal and external applicants.

Use #2: Retention of associate professors/senior researchers

In exceptional cases, the promotion programme may also be used for already employed associate professors and senior researchers with a view to retention and career development, if there are compelling reasons to do so.

In this case, the employee in question must be assessed as having a very high, consistent academic level, and an ability and willingness to make extraordinary efforts for the academic environment and the study environment of a scale and quality that significantly exceed the level which formed the basis for employment as an associate professor/senior researcher: in other words, what is normally expected of such positions at AU.

The criterion for recommendation for the promotion programme is that, through focused career development, within a few years the employed associate professor/senior researcher will be assessed as able to achieve qualifications corresponding to a professorship in open advertisements. The assessment will be performed by the head of department/school with advice from experts in the existing organ(s). The assessment will be based on the candidate's documented qualifications, results and performance at the department/school within all core activities, cf. the job structure and professional recognition requirements. The programme will be adapted to the individual candidate and the duration of the programme may be shortened.

Assessment in connection with completion of the programme and possible transfer to professorship

The academic assessment will be conducted by an assessment committee set up in accordance with the current rules for academic assessment committees, AU's Norms for recruitment and the faculties’ guidelines for academic appointments.

The assessment must be initiated no later than six months before the end of the agreed promotion programme. It can be agreed specifically that the assessment will be carried out at an earlier point in time. The employee in question must request to be assessed. If the associate professor/senior researcher fails to request an assessment of his or her qualifications by no later than six months before the end of the promotion programme, or if the associate professor/senior researcher is assessed and found not to be academically qualified, his or her employment as an associate professor/senior researcher will continue outside the programme. It is possible to offer the associate professor/senior researcher an additional attempt at qualifying before the end of the specific promotion programme. A maximum of two academic assessments may be carried out.

Following a positive assessment, the head of department/school will submit a recommendation for transfer to professorship for final decision by the dean. The dean will make a decision solely on the basis of the assessment, and will ensure that the academic quality corresponds to appointment of professors in open advertisements.

Content of the promotion programme

The duration of the programme will typically be three to five years. The duration, content and development plan will be adapted to the individual employee and be determined from the beginning.

The individual development plan must contain specific goals and activities to further develop the competences of the associate professor/senior researcher within research, education and collaboration in order for the associate professor/senior researcher to qualify as a professor. In connection with admission to the programme and as part of the development plan, the employee will be assigned a mentor. The mentor will be a senior member of academic staff, and an individual mentorship programme will be planned.

In addition, the development plan will describe the mutual expectations for contributions by the department/school and the employee to the individual career development and a research management vision in relation to the academic development of the department/school. The associate professor/senior researcher, the immediate supervisor and the head of department/school commit to the programme and the plan until the assessment. Reporting relationships are not affected by participation in the programme. The employee's development in relation to the plan and the requirements set will be followed up at least once a year in the staff development dialogue.