Tenure track - frequently asked questions and answers
This page contains general information and answers to frequently asked questions about Aalto tenure track. Hope you find these helpful.
If you need exact information, please see the current Aalto Tenure Track Policies and Procedures -document.
Aalto tenure track process is a standard professors’ career advancement process, which has been developed and approved widely in Aalto community. It has been developed and accepted through broad community workshops and discussions to follow international practices.
The tenure track is one of Aalto University's key tools for implementing its strategy and to facilitate its way among the world’s top universities.
The decision making, processes and practicalities are described in the Aalto Tenure Track Policies and Procedures -document.
The aim is to provide a transparent process with clear and transparent rules for recruitment, evaluation and promotion throughout the university.
Aalto tenure track is to support professors’ academic freedom to reach world class in research and/or artistic and professional work, personal development in teaching and to encourage being active and developing academic leadership in relevant scientific and/or artistic communities.
In its 10 years, Aalto has recruited over 270 professors, which is a significant proportion of Aalto University's total of about 400 professors.
In this context, ‘holistic’ means that instead of calculating merits based on a list of metrics and indicators, merits are assessed as a whole and compared to international level excellence. When assessing the specificities of each discipline, the role of external reviewers is essential in this work.
At Aalto University, the president of Aalto makes the decisions on permanent professors. The president will use his discretion and make the final decision based on the holistic assessment and all the documentation gathered during the process.
The decisions regarding the fixed-term professors are made by the dean at each school.
As the decision making process includes “checks and balances”, several independent committees at departmental and at school level contribute and/or prepare the matter in decision making.
According to the constitution, Aalto must perform its activities in accordance with the University Act. The academic activities mentioned in the constitution refer to research, art and education. Each school is responsible for these activities within the scope of the foundation’s policies and strategy.
The abovementioned academic activities do not include personnel issues such as recruitment and promotions. Instead, in accordance with the Universities Act, hiring staff is in the president’s authority.
The head of department makes a proposal to the dean to start the process and to nominate a departmental committee for this process. After the dean’s decision, the departmental committee will start an international search (call). When the call is closed, the departmental committee selects the most promising applicants and will turn to at least four external reviewers to get an assessment on top applicants. At the site visit, top applicants are interviewed, and they give a teaching demonstration which will be evaluated.
Based on these, the departmental committee makes a proposal to the dean on the person to be appointed/or tenured. In the case of non-tenured positions, the dean decides who to recruit after consulting the school’s tenure track committee. For the permanent (tenured) professors’ positions, the dean prepares a proposal to the president of Aalto, who makes the decision after consulting the Aalto tenure track committee.
You can contact your department's HR coordinator at any time, they know where the process is going.
The president nominates 12 full professor members for a term of three years, on the proposal of the provost. There are two representatives from each school.
More information on Aalto tenure track committee.
The role of the Aalto Tenure Track Committee is to support the president in decision-making. Its task is to give an opinion on the deans’ proposals for recruitments, on advancements to tenure or on promotions to full professor, and to assess whether the process has been fair and impartial. The committee seeks to ensure that the assessment is done in a coherent and fair way across departments and schools.
The work of the committee is based on the documents used and/or prepared by the departmental and school tenure track committees and the dean. The tenure track committee focuses its work on existing documents produced at different levels, examines consistency of the documents, and assesses the extent and quality of the evidence-based facts in the material in relation to the criteria.
The Aalto Tenure Track Committee seeks to ensure that excellence remain equally high across all departments, schools and disciplines.
More information on Aalto tenure track committee.
The president nominates 5-7 preferably full professor members for a term of three years, on the proposal of the dean. The committee gives its opinion to the dean on all recruitment, tenure and promotion decisions related to the school's professorships.
What characterizes Aalto tenure track is, that the candidates compete only with themselves and not with each other. If the tenure review is positive, a tenured position is available for each person on a track.
According to Aalto tenure track criteria set in Aalto Tenure Track Policies and Procedure -document (current version June 2021), tenure and recruitment decisions require positive evidence of international level excellence either in research and/or artistic work or teaching, while the other needs to be of high quality. A lot of weight on assessing this international level excellence is put to the reviews of external experts.
In the research domain, criteria include the quality and impact of scientific publications and/or artistic work, ability to conduct independent work, and capability of raising external funding. In the teaching domain, the elements to be assessed are teaching competence as outlined in separate guidelines, and supervision of students at all levels, in particular doctoral students. In addition to research/artistic work and teaching, there is a criterion of service, which includes activity in the scientific community, academic leadership, and societal interaction.
In addition to the above, each school may have defined its own more detailed or further criteria reflecting the discipline specific requirements or established practices.
In addition, outside Aalto experience is considered.
More information on evaluation criteria.
The tenure track criteria are defined in Aalto Tenure Track Policies and Procedure -document (current version June 2021). In addition to this document, each school may have defined its own more detailed or further criteria.
The overall tenure criteria in terms of international level excellence in research/artistic work or teaching have been the same since the beginning of the tenure track system at Aalto. This has been viewed in the community as a key driver of Aalto’s international development. As the international level of excellence continues to rise as science develops, this is and will be reflected also in the Aalto tenure track system.
More information on evaluation criteria.
Due to the principle of equality and transparency, evaluations in the different fields Aalto University follow the predefined criteria, which are interpreted by the internal and external peers in the context of the candidate’s field.
As bibliometric characteristics vary across disciplines, expert reviews play a key role in assessing the level of excellence of a candidate and evaluating different metrics in the context of the discipline; such expert reviews are also required by the Universities Act. The expert opinion of external reviewers on candidate’s performance is based on criteria outlined in the Tenure Track Policies and Procedures –document.
The minimum requirements for reaching tenure are either excellence in research and/or artistic work and high-quality teaching, or excellence in teaching and high-quality research and/or artistic work.
The emphasis on research and/or artistic work is higher in the beginning of the career. The importance of teaching remains relatively unchanged throughout the career, while contributions to service are expected to increase with seniority.
Teaching assessment is an overall, holistic process and competence can be demonstrated in many ways. The teaching competence assessment matrix includes variety of examples that may evidence the teaching competence. It is not a list to be fulfilled.
More information on teaching competence assessment can be found here.
The teaching assessment is always a holistic process that consists of six elements: approach to teaching and learning, teaching experience, curriculum development and educational leadership, development as a teacher, feedback and ability to teach. Therefore, outstanding teaching feedback is essential, but not sufficient alone.
Student feedback concerns the course and teaching. In addition to describing the feedback collected, one should describe how the feedback has been utilized to develop teaching and learning. Peer feedback, other assessments of teaching competence, honors or awards may also be included to evidence the teaching competence.
Innovations are valued as part of the "Impact and service" -criteria. Please include a description of the innovation and its impact in your research portfolio.
According to the Aalto Tenure Track Policies and Procedures, external reviewers should have a full professor position at a high-quality university or have comparable research/artistic merits. High quality in this context means a “peer university/benchmark university” i.e. “universities as good as or better than Aalto is”. It is important that the departmental committees carefully consider their proposal for external reviewers as they are the people who set the bar for excellence.
At Aalto, the committees are looking for positive evidence on excellence in the documentation. Sometimes the statements can be vague, and hence unambiguous question which requires a clear statement how the reviewer positions the candidate in his/her own university context. It gives us an informed perspective of the level of international excellence of the candidate.
Aalto University is committed to follow responsible assessment principles. Aalto has signed The Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment in 2022, and is a member of CoARA and before that, has signed San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) in 2018.
Aalto is a unique combination of fields: art and design, technology and business. Disciplinary excellence is combined with multidisciplinary activities, engaging both students and the local innovation ecosystem. Our main campus is transforming into an open collaboration hub that encourages encounters between students, researchers, industry, startups and other partners. Aalto has also a strong academic standing and reputation – we are among top 10 of New Universities (QS ranking). Diversity is part of who we are: for example, over 40% of our academic faculty comes from outside Finland and our working language is English.
Finland is well-known for its equal and low-hierarchy work culture. Aalto has flexible family leave related policies and practicalities aiming to support staff in achieving a healthy work/life balance. Furthermore, Finland is consistently ranked high in quality of life, and has been chosen as the happiest country in the world; and not just once, but already five times (2022). What would be better place to work?
More information on why choose Finland.
More information on careers at Aalto University.
This page introduces the Aalto University tenure track career system for professors. The page contains information on the general principles of the tenure track, levels and description of the career system, professors' work profile and work time allocation as well as general regulations (Aalto tenure track policies and procedures).
This page describes how to apply for Aalto University's tenure track. The page contains information on why to apply for Aalto University tenure track and instruction on how to apply. The site has instructions, for example, on application documents (including curriculum vitae/cv and teaching portfolio) as well as application and selection process.