The meaning of the word professor (Latin: professor, person who professes to be an expert in some art or science, teacher of highest rank) varies. In most English-speaking countries it refers to a senior academic who holds a departmental chair, especially as head of the department, or a personal chair awarded specifically to that individual. This is the case in most Commonwealth countries (except Canada) and the Republic of Ireland (which is a former Commonwealth member). However, in the United States and Canada it is a title given a much larger group of senior teachers in two- and four-year colleges and universities.
In most countries on the European mainland, such as Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the Scandinavian countries, the usage of professor as a legal title is limited in much the same way as in the Commonwealth countries, i.e. it is reserved for someone who holds a chair/s.
In addition to people holding the proper academic title, universities in many countries may also bestow famous artists, athletes and foreign dignitaries with the title honorary professor, even if these persons don't have the academic qualifications that normally would be needed for a professorship. However, such "professors" are usually not expected to do any academic work for the university in question.
Professors are qualified experts who may do the following:
The balance of these six fields of professorial tasks depends heavily on the institution, place (country), and time. For example, professors at highly research-oriented universities in the U.S., and Canada, and, as a general rule, in European universities, are promoted primarily on the basis of their research achievements as well as their success in raising money from sources outside the university.
A tenured professor has a lifetime appointment until retirement, except for dismissal with "due cause". The reason for the existence of such a privileged position is the principle of academic freedom, which holds that it is beneficial for state, society and academy in the long run if learned persons are free to examine, hold, and advance controversial views without fear of losing their jobs. Tenure allows professors to engage in current political or other controversies. Critics assert that it also means that lazy or unpleasant professors cannot be forced to improve, and have suggested including management techniques from the business world such as performance review, audits, and performance-based salaries. However, in most cases, individuals enter academia because they are intrinsically interested in the work (professors could generally earn much higher salaries in industry if they so desired), and so they are very unlikely to use tenure as an excuse to withdraw from their research responsibilities. In fact, even in cases where there is no mandatory retirement, many professors continue to be active researchers. However, tenured professors may be more prone to neglecting their teaching duties, if they lack interest in pedagogy.
The argument has also been made that tenure actually diminishes academic freedom, as it forces all those seeking tenured positions to profess to the same views (political and academic) as those deciding who is awarded a tenured position. For example, according to physicist Lee Smolin, "...it is practically career suicide for a young theoretical physicist not to join the field [of string theory].". While it is true that after receiving tenure, the academic is free to pursue other theories, the degree of preparation and specialization required before being able to make a meaningful contribution to such theories and the lengthy period of time before tenure is granted means that the academic will be severely handicapped in contributing to any parts of their field other than the dominant paradigm. This is even more so now that many academics are being forced to spend several years in non-tenure track positions before beginning the 5-6 year process of gaining tenure.
In many countries in Europe and in New Zealand and Australia no academic institutions award tenure; in most, whether tenured positions are available varies from faculty to faculty and from institution to institution.
The term "professors" in the United States refers to a group of educators at the college and university level; in Canada, where a major distinction is made between college- and university-level education, the term is generally restricted to universities. In colloquial language, usage of the term may refer to any educator at the post-secondary level, yet a considerable percentage of post-secondary educators do not hold the formal title of "Professor", but are instead lecturers, instructors, and teaching assistants.
Educators who hold a formal title of "Professor" (referred to as tenured/tenure-track faculty) typically begin their careers as assistant professors, with subsequent promotions to the ranks of associate professor and finally professor. The titles are historical traditions; for example, an assistant professor does not usually serve to "assist" more senior faculty. There is usually a strict timeline for application for promotion from assistant to associate professor - usually 5 or 6 years following the initial appointment. Applicants are evaluated based on their contributions to research, teaching, and administration. The relative weighting of these contributions differ by institution, with PhD-granting universities usually placing more emphasis on research than the other two and with liberal arts colleges placing more emphasis on teaching. In many universities, the decision to grant tenure and promotion from assistant to associate levels is made at numerous levels, with a common sequence being: 1) external reviewers—several high-profile researchers will be asked to review the candidate's application for promotion and will submit a confidential report; 2) based on this report and letters provided by members of the university, a subcommittee of members from the candidate's department will make a recommendation for tenure/promotion or denial of such; 3) the department will vote; 4) the department decision is communicated to a university panel of individuals from outside of the department who evaluate the application and decide whether they agree or disagree with the departmental recommendation; 5) the dean; 6) the board of governors/president or other upper level governing body.
A decision to reject a candidate for tenure normally requires that the individual leave the institution within a year.
Otherwise, tenure is granted along with promotion from assistant to associate professor. Although tenure and promotion are usually separate decisions, they are often highly correlated such that a decision to grant a promotion coincides with a decision in favor of tenure, and vice versa.
Assistant professors who are granted tenure and promotion move to the rank of associate professor. This usually results in an increased administrative load and membership on committees that are restricted to tenured faculty. Some people remain at the level of associate professor throughout their careers. However, most will apply for the final promotion to full professor; the timeline for making this application is more flexible than that for assistant to associate positions and the associate professor does not normally lose his/her job if the application is rejected.
As with promotion from assistant to associate professor, promotion from associate to full professor involves review at multiple levels, similar to the earlier tenure/promotion review. This includes external reviews, decisions by the department, recommendations by members of other departments, and high-ranking university officials. Usually, this final promotion requires that the individual has maintained an active research program, and excellent teaching, in addition to taking a leadership role in important departmental and extra-departmental administrative tasks. Full professor is the highest rank that a professor can achieve (other than in a named position) and is seldom achieved before a person reaches their mid-40s. The rank of full professor carries additional administrative responsibilities associated with membership on committees that are restricted to full professors.
Individuals in these positions typically focus on teaching undergraduate courses, do not engage in research (except in the case of "research professors"), do not engage in departmental decision-making, and are not eligible for tenure.
These full-time faculty members engage in both undergraduate and graduate teaching, mentoring, research, and service. Only faculty in these positions are eligible for tenure.
Retired faculty may retain formal or informal links with their university, such as library privileges or office space. At some institutions faculty who have retired after achieving the rank of professor are given the title "professor emeritus (male)" or "professor emerita" (female).
In the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and most Commonwealth countries (but not Canada), a professor traditionally held either a departmental chair (generally as the head of the department or of a sub-department) or a personal chair (a professorship awarded specifically to that individual). In most universities, professorships are reserved for only the most senior academic staff, and other academics are generally known as 'lecturers', 'senior lecturers' and 'readers' (in some Commonwealth countries such as Australia and New Zealand the title 'Associate Professor' can be used instead of 'Reader'). In some countries senior lecturers are generally paid the same as readers, but the latter is awarded primarily for research excellence, and traditionally carries higher prestige.
During the 1990s, however, the University of Oxford introduced Titles of Distinction, enabling their holders to be termed professors or readers while holding academic posts at the level of lecturer. The University of Exeter and University of Warwick have adopted the antipodean style of 'associate professor' in lieu of 'reader'. The varied practices these changes have brought about has meant that academic ranks in the United Kingdom are no longer quite as consistent as they once were.
In general, the title of 'Professor' is reserved in correspondence to full professors only; lecturers and readers are properly addressed by their academic qualification (Dr for a PhD, DPhil etc. and Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms otherwise). In Australia and New Zealand, associate professors are by courtesy (though formally erroneously) addressed as "Professor".
As in the USA, the term 'professor emeritus' is used to describe a retired or former professor, who may well retain formal or informal links with the institution where the chair was formerly held.
Many professorships are named in honour of a distinguished person or after the person who endowed the chair. Some chairs have a long history and considerable prestige attached, such as the Gresham Professorships, which date back to the 16th Century, Regius Professorships or the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.
Somewhat confusingly, instructors at many music conservatoires in the UK are known as professors; for example, 'professor of violin'. This designation is quite different from the standard British use of the term, and has more in common with the American usage, where the term is applied to any instructor at a college or university.
In Great Britain and Ireland, the term 'professor' is properly and in formal situations given to singing and instrumental tutors in the music colleges / conservatories of music, usually the older and more august ones: The Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Royal Northern College of Music, Trinity College of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Birmingham Conservatoire, Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and the Royal Irish Academy of Music. The expression has nearly become obsolete for singing and instrumental tuition in the universities however, save for one or two.The same convention applies throughout Europe in the National Colleges of Music.
In Portuguese, professor means both professor and teacher.
The title of Professor used in abbreviation in front of holder's name e.g. prof. Jan Švejnar or prof. MUDr., DrSc., refers to a pedagogically-academic title (pedagogicko akademický titul) awarded to university teachers holding a Ph.D. degree or equivalent who excel in a specific field of science and have special merits in both – the research and teaching at a university. Excellent scientists, who don’t normally teach at a university even thou they have exceptional merits in bringing science to people, do not receive the title of professor e. g. RNDr. Jiří Grygar, CSc.
The title Professor is awarded by a university accredited to do so by the Accreditation Commission (akreditační komise) of the Ministry of Education (ministerstvo školství, mládeže a tělovýchovy) to an actual person. Strictly speaking the university doesn't award the title it only recommends the candidate to be pronounced a professor to the president of the Czech Republic. The system of awarding of professor’s titles means that such a title is not stipulated by a position at a university i.e. a chairmanship of a department and vice versa - to hold such a position at a university, one is not required to be a professor. A university, in order to receive an accreditation for study programs or recommending pronouncing professors, must have certain number of professors and docents on staff, but not necessarily as heads of departments or faculties.
Professors are pronounced a professor by the president of the Czech Republic on recommendation of the Science Committee of a university (vědecká rada vysoké školy) presented to the president through the Minister of Education (ministr školství, mládeže a tělovýchovy). (art. 76 of Act no 110/1998 Col. On universities)
According to the Act no 110/1998 Col. the nominee’s qualifications are assessed by at least five professors, specialists in the field or a field similar to the field the nominee is to be pronounced a professor in. At least three of these professors must be from universities different from nominees one. An important obligation set by the law is that nominee must have been named a docent before. The procedure of qualification (habilitační proces), leading to awarding of a docent title involves procedure similar to one leading to pronouncing a professor. Docents are pronounced by the head of university (rektor) accredited to pronounce docents in the particular field.
The ranking system of teachers at Czech universities:
In the past, there were two titles of professor recognised in the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia at the time):
Awarding of both of these titles was regulated by law before the World War II. The title středoškolský profesor ceased to exist after the war. However there is a specific type of secondary school (gymnázium) where the teachers are still being addressed to as professor (profesor) out of tradition.
See also: List of academic ranks#Czech republic
In Denmark the word professor is only used for full professors. An associate professor is in Danish called a lektor and an assistant professor is called an adjunkt. Before promotion to full professorship, one can get a time limited (usually 5 years) post of a professor "with special responsibilities". This position gives time to gather enough publication record, as well as for the school to raise funds for the permanent professorship. An additional step between lektor and full professor is docent. A docent has the same work as a professor but they do not actively take part in senior administrative duties, such as heading a department.
Public universities have five ranks for faculty members: moeed (معيد, strict transliteration Mu`īd; equivalent to teaching assistant), modares mosaed (مدرس مساعد, strict transliteration Mudarris musā`id; equivalent to senior teaching assistant), modares (مدرس, strict transliteration Mudarris; equivalent to assistant professor), ostaz mosaed (أستاذ مساعد, strict transliteration 'Ustāḏ musā`id; equivalent to associate professor), and ostaz (أستاذ, strict transliteration 'Ustāḏ; equivalent to professor)
Teaching assistant: Academic departments hire teaching assistants by either directly hiring the top ranking students of the most recent graduates, or publishing advertisements. Once hired, a teaching assistant must obtain a master’s degree within five years of commencing employment. Otherwise, s/he must either leave the university, or be transferred to any administrative department that s/he is qualified for. Teaching assistants duties include preparing and delivering tutorial and lab sessions, preparing assignments and term projects requirements, preparing and conducting laboratory examinations, and tutorial quizzes, and co-supervising graduation projects.
Senior teaching assistant: After a teaching assistant obtains a master's degree, s/he is promoted to a senior teaching assistant. Usually, the duties do not change, but the salary increases slightly. To keep her/his post, a senior teaching assistant must obtain a doctoral degree within five years. Otherwise, s/he must either leave the university, or be transferred to any administrative department that s/he is qualified for.
Assistant professor: Once a senior teaching assistant obtains a doctorate, s/he is hired as an assistant professor, and receives tenureship. Assistant professors duties include delivering lectures, supervising graduation projects, master's theses, and doctoral dissertations.
Associate professor: After at least five years, an assistant professor can apply for a promotion to the rank of associate professor. The decision is based on the scholarly contributions of the applicant, in terms of publications and theses and dissertations supervised.
Professor: After at least five years, an associate professor can apply for a promotion to the rank of a professor. The decision is based on the scholarly contributions of the applicant, in terms of publications and theses and dissertations supervised.
Academic duties of associate professors and professors are nearly the same as assistant professors. However, only associate professors and professors can assume senior administrative posts like a department chair, a college vice dean, and a college dean.
After the doctorate granted by a university, scholars who wish to enter academia may apply for a position of maître de conférences ("master of lectures"). To get this position they must first be approved by the National Council of Universities, made up of elected and appointed professors, and then be chosen by the scientific committee of the University, made up of elected professors. Thus recruitment is mostly made by other professors, rather than by administrators.
The salary scale is national and does not vary from one university to another.
After some years in this position, they may take an "habilitation" to direct thesis before applying for a position of professeur des universités ("university professor"). Their suitability for such a position will be judged mostly on their published original research.
In the past, this required a higher doctorate [a "State Doctorate"]. In some disciplines such as Law, Management ["Gestion"] and Economics, candidates take the agrégation competitive examination; only the higher-ranked are nominated.
Both maître de conférences and professors are civil servants; however they follow a special statute guaranteeing academic freedom. As an exception to civil service rules, these positions are open regardless of citizenship. There also exist equivalent ranks as state employees (non civil service) for professors coming from industry. These ranks are maître de conférences associé et professeur des universités associé, depending on the professor's experience.
Teaching staff in higher education establishments outside the university system, such as the École polytechnique, may follow different denominations and statutes. In some establishments, such as the EHESS, professeurs des universités, are called directeurs d'étude (Research advisors).
In recent years, an increasing proportion of maîtres de conférences have been replaced by teachers who are not paid to do research (and therefore teach longer hours).
After the doctorate, German scholars who wish to go into academia usually work toward a Habilitation by writing a second thesis, known as the Habilitationsschrift. This is often accomplished while employed as a Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter or Wissenschaftlicher Assistent ("scientific assistant", C1) or a non-tenured position as Akademischer Rat ("academic councilor", both 3+3 years teaching and research positions). Once they pass their Habilitation, they are called Privatdozent and are eligible for a call to a chair.
Since 2002, a German scholar may also become eligible for a call to a chair by first finding a position as a "Junior-Professor" (see below).
Note that in Germany, there has always been a debate about whether Professor is a title that remains one's own for life once conferred (similar to the doctorate), or whether it is linked to a function (or even the designation of a function) and ceases to belong to the holder once she or he quits or retires (except in the usual case of becoming Professor emeritus). The latter view has won the day—although in many German Länder ("states"), there is a minimum requirement of five years of service before "Professor" may be used as a title—and is by now both the law and majority opinion.
When appropriate, the joint title Professor Doktor (Prof. Dr.), has also been heard in the German system. This reflects the fact that most academics who have reached this stage will indeed have written both a doctoral thesis and a habilitation (i.e. a second academic work beyond the doctorate).
Similar or identical systems as in Germany (where a Habilitation is required) are in place, e.g., in Austria, the German-speaking part of Switzerland, as well as in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia.
Recent studies have found that both the interest in applying for 'junior professorships' and the willingness of academic institutions to create these positions has declined since they were first made possible. For references (all in German) and more see http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juniorprofessur (the German page 'Juniorprofessur)
Some other uses of the title professor:
In Icelandic universities, especially The University of Iceland, prófessor is the highest ranking teaching position below rektor (headmaster, dean). Below prófessor is lektor, then dósent, then aðjúnkt and finally stundakennari which is a part-time position.
There are two routes to enter academia, one through direct selection by a university or college, and the second through competitive selection by a centralised commission. The commission's selection is based on scores for MA/MSc, national exams and the commission's interviews.
The ranking system is a hybrid of the American and British systems. In some places there are five faculty ranks while at others there are three. Entry level positions are known as lecturers (or sometimes assistant professors). The positions of reader is similar to associate professor and the highest is professor.
From 2009, AICTE norms have abolished the posts of “lecturer” and “senior lecturer” in technical courses, leaving only “assistant professor”, “associate professor” and “professor” posts, with a minimum qualification of a PhD.
The ranking system combines the American system and the German one. There are four faculty ranks rather than three: lecturer (martsé), senior lecturer (martsé bakhír), associate professor (profésor khavér), and full professor (profésor min ha-minyán). Traditionally, lecturer is equivalent to the American assistant professor rank, and senior lecturer to associate professor ranks; passage from lecturer to senior lecturer rank usually entails tenure, but not always. The two higher ranks had German rather than American equivalents: professor chaver was comparable to professor extraordinarius, while professor min ha-minyan was the equivalent, and Hebrew translation of, professor ordinarius. Tenure (not guaranteed) is granted after 4–7 years (depending on institution and academic achievements). Hence a professor chaver is in fact comparable to the American full professor; many academics never become a "professor min ha-minyan". The academic programs of the university are controlled by a Senate, of which every full professor is a member, as well as representatives of other ranks. Israeli universities do not, as a rule, grant tenure to new hires, regardless of previous position, rank, or eminence. A candidate is considered for tenure together with promotion to the next highest rank, or after a year for initial appointments made at the rank of full professor.
The ranking system in Dutch universities is as follows:
A professor should have substantial research achievements and international reputation, and is typically the head of a department or of a "chair-group" within a department. Most scientific staff will have both research and teaching duties.
Although the ranks are often translated as if they were aligned with the American system (i.e. assistant, associate, and full professor), this is clearly not the case. There is no promotion system to go from one rank to the other. That is, a lecturer can only become senior lecturer or professor by applying for such a position if there is a vacancy. The concept of tenure is very different. In Dutch universities, permanent positions must be offered upon the third extension of fixed-term position to avoid permatemps (as is the case in all government jobs).
Dutch universities can also appoint Extraordinary Professors on a part-time basis. This allows the University to bring in specialized expertise that otherwise would not be available. An extraordinary professor usually has his main employment somewhere else, often in industry or at a research institute or University elsewhere. Such a professor has all the privileges of a full professor ((gewoon) hoogleraar), may give lectures on special topics, or can supervise graduate students who may do their research at the place of his main employment. Due to this system, many university research groups will have several professors. There is however a clear distinction between bijzonder hoogleraar and buitengewoon hoogleraar. The bijzonder hoogleraar does not get paid by the university, but receives his salary from an external organization, such as a company, an organization or a fund. The buitengewoon hoogleraar on the other hand is under a direct contract with the university. Both types of extraordinary professor allow using the title prof., but contrary to full professors, they are not allowed to keep it after their contract ends.
Some Dutch universities have also instated Institute Professorships, which sometimes carry special rights, e.g. the absence of any obligation to teach undergraduate students.
In Norway the word professor is only used for full professors at universities or scientific institutions at a similar level. The position below professor is called førsteamanuensis ("first amanuensis"), which is officially translated to English as Associate Professor, and which require, as a minimum, a doctoral degree or similar competence. The position of Docent, applied to people of the same competence as a Professor who did not hold a Professoral chair, was abolished in 1985, when all Docents received the title of Professor.
Historically, Professors were appointed for life by the King upon the advice of the Cabinet. Due to the increasing number of appointments, this changed in 1989 when it became the responsibility of the individual institution to formally appoint professors.
All people who are appointed as Professors must have their competence evaluated by a scientific, independent committee, and given Professorial competence.
Appointments usually are for life, although time-limited appointments are possible (especially if the position is externally funded). Professors who only work part-time, typically 20 %, and who usually have a different main job (for instance as a Consultant at a university hospital), are called Professor II, meaning this is a secondary job, but they need to have the same competence as other Professors and are styled as simply Professor.
University career usually begins with an “assistant” academic position. “Assistant” assists to the professor or lecturer, helps in performing exercises or, sometimes, also gives lectures, under the supervision of the professor. “Assistant”, however, is not permitted to hold a chair, or to examine students alone. The level of the “assistant” does not require Ph.D. but “Magister” or, in recent times, just “Master” grade.
The next level is reserved for Ph.D. holders only (except in the arts: visual, performing arts, music, film etc.) where “Magisterium” is the highest degree). It is called “docent” (in Latin “instructor”, “lecturer”, “teacher”) and is approximately equivalent to the Assistant Professor level in the English-speaking areas. Unlike “assistant”, “docent” is permitted to give lectures independently, to be examiner, supervisor of paper works and theses, and to even hold a chair in a certain subject. It can also happen that more persons are employed within one chair (e.g. nuclear physics): a full-professor, “docent” and “assistant” for instance. In that case, the full-professor is normally a chair-holder, while “docent” and “assistant” are chair-related. If this is the case, “docent” usually has some kind of dependence upon the professor, but still possesses much independence, unlike the “assistant”.
After four or five years or more (exceptions are rare), and a significant scientific record, “docent” can be elected to become “vanredni profesor” ("extraordinary professor") which is approximately equivalent to the Associated Professor position, or re-elected for the same (docent) position. The rank of the “vanredni profesor” is normally the minimal requirement for the highest Faculty and University positions, such as Dean of the Faculty, member of the University Senate or Rector. In the process of electing an associated professor, just those members of the Department, Faculty or University, who hold associated- or full- professorship are able to vote.
After four or five years and significant score of publications, “vanredni profesor” can be re-elected for the same position, or elected into the next and the highest University and scientific title of “redovni profesor” ("ordinary professor") – the (Full) Professor. “Redovni profesori”, the full-professors, are excluded from further electing processes, that take place for all other University teaching positions, normally after four or five years.
The title of “Emeritus” Professor should usually be granted to small number of professors who had extraordinarily academic and scientific score, as well as to all former Rectors.
In the past twenty-five years, Spain has gone through three university reforms: 1983 (Ley de Reforma Universitaria, LRU), 2001 (Ley Orgánica de Universidades, LOU) and 2007 (a mere reform of the LOU with several specific modifications of the 2001 Act). We can name them LRU 1983, LOU 2001 and LOU 2007.
The actual categories of tenured and untenured positions, and the basic department and university organization, were established by LRU 1983, and only specific details have been reformed by LOU 2001 and LOU 2007. The most important reform introduced by these later acts has affected the way in which candidates to a position are selected. According to LRU 1983, a committee of five members had to evaluate the curricula of the candidates. A new committee was constituted for each new position, operating in the same university offering that position. These committees had two members appointed by the department (including the Secretary of the Committee), and three members who were draw-selected (from any university, but belonging to the same "knowledge area"). With this system, the department only had to "persuade" one of the three "external" members of the committee into giving the position to their "insider" (the applicant from their own department).
The LOU 2001 and LOU 2007 acts have granted even more freedom to universities when choosing applicants for a position. Each university now freely establishes the rules for the creation of an internal committee that assigns available positions. It would seem that "insiders" are now even more advantaged. This is not the case, however, as the last two reforms also have introduced an external "quality control" process. To better understand these reforms, it is worth examining the situation both before and after 2007.
The situation before 2007 was this: LOU 2001 had established a procedure, based on competition at national level, to became a civil servant. This procedure, and the license a candidate obtained, was called "habilitación", and it included curricula evaluation and personal examination. The external committee was formed by seven draw-selected members (belonging to the same "knowledge area" and fulfilling requisites related to research curricula), who could assign a fixed and pre-determined number of "habilitaciones" (but not positions). An applicant to a particular position in any university had to be "habilitado" (licensed) by this National Committee in order to apply. Non civil servants had a slightly different "quality control" process. A specific institution, called ANECA (Agencia Nacional de Evaluación de la Calidad), examined the applicants' curricula and issued them an "acreditación" (similar to the "habilitación", but for non civil servant positions).
Today, following the LOU 2007 reform, the whole process has been simplified, and both civil and non civil servants only need to pass a faster and simpler "acreditación" process (the "habilitación" is gone). The curricula are now examined by an "external" committee, and there is no personal exam. This "outside of university" quality control process has remarkably increased the level of applicants to tenured positions (civil or non-civil servants) since 2001.
To sum it up, although in the past people could become catedrático or professor titular with a random curriculum, since local support was the most important requirement for a candidate, independently of his/her research or teaching quality (LRU 1983), the certification system introduced by the LOU 2001 act (habilitación), which requires the candidate to pass a competitive exam at a national level for each category before applying for a position, has increased the standards of Spanish university professors to those of most countries. With LOU 2007, the "habilitación" has become "acreditación", and the committee will only evaluate the applicants' curricula, without making them go through a personal exam.
Before the LOU 2001 reform, tenure implied becoming a civil servant (funcionario). A civil servant, as in other European countries, cannot lose his job even in the case of remarkably bad performance. This had caused the level of many universities in Spain to drop. The LOU 2001 included two other tenured positions, not of civil servant type: Profesor Colaborador (this category has disappeared in 2007), and Profesor Contratado Doctor (equivalent to Profesor Titular de Universidad). Non-tenured positions include: Profesor Asociado (a part-time instructor who keeps a parallel job, for example in the industry, in a hospital or teaching in a school), Profesor Ayudante (a doctoral student working as teaching assistant), and Profesor Ayudante Doctor (a promotion from the latter, after completing the doctoral dissertation).
Under present legislation (LOU 2007), only the following positions are available:
Currently, a professor can be in one of the abolished categories (Profesor Titular de Escuela Universitaria, Profesor Colaborador), but no new position in these categories can be created.
Of these six categories of tenured positions, four imply becoming a civil servant (funcionario):
The Catedrático de Escuela Universitaria and the Profesor Titular de Universidad categories have been merged by the LOU 2007 reform. The two de Escuela Universitaria categories are intended mainly for teachers of three-year degrees (e.g. technical engineering, nursing, teaching in primary schools), while the two de Universidad categories include professors of any undergraduate or graduate degree.
The retiring age for university professors in Spain is 65, just like all other workers. However, a university professor can work until he is 70, if he so wishes. Even then, he, or she, can apply for a Professor Emérito position. It is a non-tenured position and it has a limited duration (4 additional years). Also, there are specific rules established by the university.
Spain places following requirements for recognition of non-European qualifications:
The appointment of professors follows the British system and is governed by the University Grants Commission regulations. A points-based system considers contributions to the research field, national development and institutional development.
In interest of an expert's report from 2005 of the “Deutscher Hochschulverband DHV”, a lobby of the German professors, the salary of professors in the United States, Germany and Switzerland is as follows:
|Country||Assistant prof.||Associate prof.||Professor|
|Netherlands||€ 30,609||€ 37,991||€ 46,180|
|Germany||€ 24,492||€ 30,383||€ 34,657|
|Belgium||€ 29,244||€ 33,778||€ 38,509|
|Switzerland||€ 60,158||€ 69,118||€ 78,068|
|Sweden||€ 22,257||€ 26,666||€ 31,639|
|UK||€ 37,424||€ 46,261||€ 60,314|
|UK-top||€ 42,245||€ 47,495||€ 82,464|
|France||€ 23,546||€ 29,316||€ 37,118|
|U.S. comparison, using OECD PPP rates|
|United States||€ 32,690||€ 49,451||€ 62,765|
|Egypt comparison, using 2007 rates, salary consists of the basic salary and the benefits|
|Egypt||€ 2,000 (€ 330 basic salary plus € 1670 benefits)||€ 2,340 (€ 340 basic salary plus € 2000 benefits)||€ 4,350 (€ 350 basic salary plus € 4000 benefits)|
In Muslim civilisation, the Chair was designated by the Caliph himself. Mostly through recommendation, the Caliph made appointments to a professorial chair (Kursi in Arabic) in a jami’ (university or congregational mosque). Such was the case of Ibn 'Aqil (died 1119 CE) who was appointed to a well-known chair in Jami' al-Mansur (Baghdad), becoming the main teacher of the mosque. In other cases, a scholar could be appointed in two chairs as the same time, holding a chair in one jami’ and simultaneously holding another in another jami’ or in one of the exclusive institutions.
This is the case of particularly distinguished and popular scholars. For example a certain Ibn al-Banna' (d. 1079) had a chair in Jami' al-Mansur (Baghdad), located in the centre of the riwaq (nave of the mosque); while simultaneously holding another in Jami' al-Qasr (also Baghdad), around the maqsura (a separate room inside the mosque). Some chairs were also known by the discipline they represented; as, for instance, the chair or study-circle of the traditionalists (halqat ahl al-hadith), and that of the grammarians (halqat al-nahwiyin). Others were known by the name of the family whose members occupied it in succession; as, for instance, the chair of the Barmakids (halqat al-Barâmika). Sometimes institutions were specialised in particular study and therefore received a corresponding chair, e.g. the Nizamiya did not have a chair of Islamic theology, but only a chair of Islamic law.
In relation to the nature of Tenure of the chair, once a professor was appointed by the Caliph to a chair in one of the main mosques (Jamii), he ordinarily held it for the remainder of his lifetime. Cases of lengthy tenure are often reported by biographers, for example Abu 'All al-Kattani (d. 1061), who was in his eighties when he died, had occupied his chair for 50 years. According to George Makdisi and Hugh Goddard, "the fact that we still talk of professors holding the 'Chair' of their subject" is based on the "traditional Islamic pattern of teaching where the professor sits on a chair and the students sit around him", and the term 'academic circles' is derived from the way in which Islamic students "sat in a circle around their professor". The term 'professor' itself is believed to be a translation of the Arabic term mufti, which meant "professor of legal opinions".
As portrayed in fiction, in accordance with a stereotype, professors are often depicted as being shy and absent-minded. Obvious examples include the 1961 movie The Absent-Minded Professor, or Professor Calculus who featured in the Tintin stories. Professors have also been portrayed as being misguided, such as Professor Metz, who helped the villain Blofeld in the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever; or simply evil, like the Professor Moriarty, who fought Sherlock Holmes. Animated series Futurama has a typical absent-minded but genius Professor Hubert Farnsworth. (See also mad scientist.) Vladimir Nabokov, author and professor of English at Cornell, frequently used professors as the protagonists in his novels. Professor Higgins is also a main character in My Fair Lady. In the popular Harry Potter series, a few school students are the most important characters, but all their teachers are known as professors, who play many important parts. In the board game Cluedo, Professor Plum has been depicted as absent minded. In the movie, see Clue (film), Professor Plum was a psychologist who had an affair with one of his patients. He was played by Christopher Lloyd.
An example of a fictional professor not depicted as shy or absent-minded is Indiana Jones, a professor as well as an archeologist-adventurer. The character generally referred to simply as The Professor on the television series Gilligan's Island is depicted as a sensible advisor, a clever inventor, and a helpful friend to his fellow castaways.
John Houseman's portrayal of law-school professor Charles W. Kingsfield, Jr., in The Paper Chase (1973) remains the epitome of the strict, authoritarian professor who demands perfection from students.
Mysterious, older men with magical powers (and unclear academic standing) are sometimes given the title of "Professor" in literature and theater. Notable examples include Professor Marvel in The Wizard of Oz  and Professor Drosselmeyer (as he is sometimes known) from the ballet The Nutcracker. Also, the magician played by Christian Bale in the film The Prestige  adopts 'The Professor' as his stage name. Other professors of this type are the thoughtful and kind Professor Digory Kirke of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, and his relative the less-known Professor Pevensie (father of the Pevensie children).
The title has been used by comedians, such as "Professor" Irwin Corey and Soupy Sales in his role as "The Big Professor." In the past pianists in saloons and other rough environments have been called "professor." The puppeteer of a Punch and Judy show is also traditionally known as a "professor." Hans Asperger called the children he studied "Little Professors."