CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

1Academic work typically consists of both teaching and research, but the two activities are not assessed in the same way. Research performance has a direct effect on career opportunities and is rated more highly than teaching quality when it comes to tenure and promotion (Cole and Cole 1967; Enders 2001; Musselin and Pigeyre 2008). This asymmetry is reflected in the position accorded to research-heavy institutions in university rankings (Clark 1987). It also appears to be directly associated with the mobility of academics in the French and international job market (Debackere and Rappa 1995), as the aim of research is to “break down walls” and reach the professional community as a whole, while teaching is a service provided by each institution for its own audience (Gouldner 1957). The asymmetric relationship between the two tasks is also responsible for the divided loyalties of academics: to the institutions in which they are based, on the one hand, and to the academic community as a whole on the other (Crane 1970).

Box 1. – The asymmetry between teaching and research

The performance profiles of teaching and research are very different. Individual research performance, determined by number of publications and the perceived or supposed quality of the journals in which they are published, on the one hand, and the visibility of the work, commonly determined by the number of citations, on the other, creates a highly asymmetric Pareto distribution (Solla Price 1963; Cole and Cole 1967; Seglen, 1992; Larivière et al. 2010). This contrasts with the normal, Gaussian distribution produced by students’ assessments of teaching quality (Hoffmann and Oreopoulos 2009). A sociological analysis of the functional weighting of the tasks demonstrates that the work of leading researchers brings rewards in reputation and remuneration that are more than proportional to the differences in competence and aptitude of those a little lower than them in the hierarchy in terms of their actual work and reputation (Stinchcombe 1963; Menger 2016). An individual’s research potential is also difficult to pin down, as it results from a series of comparisons and selection tests applied by the professional community. Research is the most openly competitive element of academic work and the only part that can be evaluated legitimately solely through peer review, via journals and assessment bodies (Zuckerman and Merton 1973). Teaching activities, however, are performed following protocols that leave less margin for error, and do not benefit from the reputational leverage that enables research to be evaluated and valued throughout the entire professional community. Overall, the greater value accorded to the production of new knowledge compared to the transmission of existing knowledge, and the asymmetric assessment of teaching and research performance, explain why research carries most weight in academic career advancement.

2Numerous studies have sought to determine whether teaching and research complement each other, tend to compete against each other, or perhaps, whether there is in fact no correlation between them at all. There have also been suggestions that the model needs to include variables such as student achievement, which could actually turn the relationship on its head (Hattie and Marsh 1996, 2002; Schimank and Winnes 2000; Horta et al. 2012; Weert and van der Kaap 2014; Menger 2016). The argument that teaching and research complement each other seems to be the default hypothesis of the vast majority of academics (Schuster and Finkelstein 2006; Shin et al. 2014). There is growing pressure, however, from mechanisms to encourage competition, both within France and internationally, and this has led to increasingly open debate about possible ways of breaking the links or creating an explicit hierarchy between the two activities, and creating an academic system that is more inspired by the Mertonian model than the Humboldtian one (Schimank and Winnes 2000). Numerous studies and debates have analyzed and evaluated changes in the division of academic work between staff members with a primary focus on research and others with a strong or primary focus on teaching (Neumann 1992; Henkel 2000; Link et al. 2008; Locke 2012; Paye 2013). The adoption of solutions that maintain the academic status of tenured staff while shifting the burden of specializing solely in teaching through flexible employment practices (adjuncts, teaching assistants, and substitutes) varies considerably across different countries.

3Studies of the so-called “teaching-research nexus” have been carried out mainly in countries like the United States, where the volume of research and publications is explicitly connected to university rankings and university posts, and where the two functions have become increasingly separate since the 1980s (Schuster and Finkelstein 2006; Clark 1987; Musselin 2007). Since the 1990s there have also been international studies comparing the changes in the division of academic work (Altbach 1996; Teichler and Höhle 2013), although France has not been included in these studies.

4Over the last fifteen years there have been studies on careers in French higher education and the respective roles played by teaching and research within them, but these have not been as well supported with empirical evidence as studies on competition and incentivization strategies, which aim at research excellence. [1] There have also been studies of limited academic numbers and of particular disciplines (Becquet and Musselin 2004; Faure et al. 2008; Lissoni et al. 2010; Paradeise 2011; Cret and Musselin 2012; Sabatier et al. 2015; Kossi et al. 2016), but none of these has provided a detailed analysis, across all academics, of the asymmetry between teaching and research and its connection with the composition of staff and the characteristics of academic careers. Such an approach is however needed in order to analyze the division of work, and to distinguish between the following categories of academic: researchers in public research institutions employed specifically for research; “teacher-researchers” who are employed to spend an equal amount of time on both tasks; and those who are employed in the French higher education system exclusively as teachers, consisting of teachers for the entrance exams (“classes préparatoires”) to the grandes écoles, and the much larger number of secondary education teachers (“Secondary Education Teachers Assigned to Higher Education,” hereafter referred to as SETAHE) holding normal (certifié) or advanced (agrégé) qualifications who have been assigned to a post in higher education. [2] This article focuses on the employment and careers of the SETAHE.

5Never previously analyzed statistically for their contribution to higher education or studied in research into academic careers, SETAHE have been described by Jean-Yves Mérindol (2010, 84) as follows: “There are an increasing number of second level staff, both agrégés and certifiés, who teach in universities but have no research obligations. This is the result of a number of factors: the growth in technological university institutes (IUT), whose teaching body has always been mixed; then, from 1984 onwards, the creation of large numbers of jobs in universities in order to improve student support at a lower cost; the provision of specific teaching for subjects such as languages, mathematics for non-specialists, etc.; and lastly, from 2006, the incorporation of teacher training institutes (IUFM) into universities. This has led to numerous complaints about issues related to duties, the recognition of research, bonus systems, and the place of teachers on university councils. These matters remain largely unresolved.” [3]

6Alluded to in general, but without any precise statistics on their number, this category of teachers appears to be crucial, yet marginal: it is crucial for university expansion and diversification, but remains marginal in universities, where careers are based on the teaching-research nexus and where, as we have noted above, promotion is chiefly determined by research performance. As will be shown, however, some of these teachers do move into university positions. Three approaches will be taken to study this group of teachers. We will first look at the composition of staff in the public university system during the different phases of expansion and diversification in higher education. We will then assess whether universities have drawn on the pool of secondary education teachers to meet the increase in student numbers, or whether it is the diversification in training programs that has led to universities appointing more teaching-only staff. This organizational approach, based on a close analysis of the numbers per institution and discipline, will enable us to establish if the ratio of teachers to teacher-researchers is stable, suggesting a functional complementarity, or if it has changed over time, which would imply that SETAHE have been used for more specific purposes.

7These first two approaches are descriptive, while the third is analytical. It aims to discover under what conditions an individual with a teaching job in a university is able to access a full university career, i.e. one that includes both teaching and research. Thus the aim of the study is to link an institutional analysis to an analysis of individual career paths and selection hurdles, in order to answer the following question: what conditions are likely to allow teachers to carry out research, which might then enable them to move into a full position as a teacher-researcher?

8To carry out our analyses we employed a database that includes all staff who held posts in the higher education institutions managed by the Ministère de l’Éducation nationale, de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche, hereafter MENESR) (French Ministry of Education, Higher Education and Research) between 1984 and 2014. [4] As this information has been anonymized, it does not include any bibliometric indicators allowing us to discover information on research activity as such. However, in addition to the sociodemographic variables (age and gender) and institutional variables (status, institution, and discipline) making it possible to chart all individual careers during the period, we had access to the career records (“fichier historique,” hereafter FH) of SETAHE who qualified as lecturers (“maîtres de conferences,” the lowest rank of teacher-researchers in France) between 2003 and 2013. [5] These provides information on whether they were appointed to the post of lecturer and the institution in which they were employed.

9Our conclusion will provide a response to the general question identified: does the use of teachers from secondary education differ depending on the institutions and disciplines that employ them, as a result of whether teaching is complementary to or exclusive from research activities in these institutions?

The change in student and staff numbers in higher education

10The links between supply and demand in higher education are complex. While the number of teacher-researchers is strongly linked to the number of students, this correlation is neither automatic nor uniform, and varies significantly according to discipline, institution, location, and education policy (Clotfelter and Rothschild 1993; Corrales 1999; Hurwitz and Kumar 2015). There were major increases in the number of students in higher education (Prost and Cytermann 2010; Charle and Verger 2012) between 1958 and 1976, and between 1988 and 1996 (see Figure 1). These brought about profound changes in the direction of higher education, institutional autonomy, the composition and weight of disciplines, and the role of teacher-researchers.

Figure 1

Change in student numbers (1930-2013)

Figure 1

Change in student numbers (1930-2013)

Scope: Annual numbers of students enrolled in an institution managed by MENESR from 1930 to 2013.
Interpretation: In 1960, approximately 200,000 students were enrolled in an institution managed by MENESR.
Source: DGRH A1-1, taken from the Ac’ADoc website, our calculations.

11Several reforms took place during this period, including the 1984 Savary Act, which brought an end to the numerous different types of employment status and both redefined the duties of academics and the entry requirements for the two types of tenure in higher education: professor (professeur), and university lecturer (maître de conférences). [6]

Box 2. – Teacher-researchers and teachers in higher education

Decree no. 84-431 of June 6, 1984—known as the Savary Act—reformed the way in which the employment and careers of teacher-researchers were structured and created two types of permanent teaching-research staff: university professors (hereafter PR) and university lecturers (hereafter MCF). The latest consolidated version of this decree was issued on March 23, 2017. Teacher-researchers’ time is divided equally between the two activities. Their teaching commitments amount to 128 hours of lectures, or 192 hours of directed or practical work. [*]
Associate and guest lecturers (PAST) are contracted staff who carry out the same work as that done by permanent teacher-researchers. Their contract is for a maximum of three years and can be renewed for up to another three years.
Assistant teachers (ASES) were higher education teachers known as “second rank” teachers, who were generally studying for a doctorate or higher doctorate. Depending on the discipline, they were either permanent staff members or on temporary contracts. This employment status was abolished by the 1984 Savary Act.
Article L952-1 of the Education Code stipulates that it is possible for other qualified teachers from the public sector to teach in higher education: these are secondary education teachers, either agrégés (PRAG), certifiés (PRCE), or those with equivalent status (assimilés). [**] Teachers employed by a higher education institution retain their original status by means of some changes to statutory arrangements, notably in relation to compensation. As they do not have to carry out research work like teacher-researchers, they are committed to 256 hours of lectures or 384 hours of directed or practical work. These commitments may be modified by institutions, particularly in order to allocate time to research.

12Since the mid-1960s, there has been a gradual disappearance of assistant teachers in higher education, some growth in the number of professors, temporary staff, and SETAHE, and by far the largest growth in the number of lecturers, who were known as “maîtres-assistants” before 1984. Figure 2 appears to suggest that the growth in the number of lecturers has resulted in greater competition for the position of professor (Sabatier et al. 2015).

Figure 2

Change in the numbers of teaching staff in higher education by employment status (1969-2013)

Figure 2

Change in the numbers of teaching staff in higher education by employment status (1969-2013)

Scope: Annual numbers of teaching staff in institutions managed by MENESR, with the exception of associate, guest, and substitute teachers. Temporary staff include the posts of “préparateurs contractuels,” “allocataires moniteurs,” and “attachés.” To our knowledge there is no reliable source of information on the activities of non-contracted doctoral students and postdoctoral students on temporary teaching contracts, leading to an underestimation of the share of temporary employment among teaching staff.
Interpretation: In 1993, there were approximately 25,000 lecturers in MENESR institutions.
Source: DGRH A1-1, taken from the Ac’ADoc website, our calculations.

13Figure 3 shows the breakdown of university staff according to employment status between 1984 and 2013. The proportion of professors scarcely varied at all, going from 23% to 24%, while the proportion of lecturers rose from 44% to 52%. The graph shows that this was very largely the result of the elimination of the employment status of assistant teacher after the 1984 Savary Act, a status that was replaced by the direct creation of lecturer jobs (Durry report 1988). The status of associate professor remained marginal, although its relative importance increased in the mid-90s and reached 3% to 4%, notably in law, management, and economics faculties. In reality, the main change in the characteristics of those employed in higher education teaching posts came from the substantial increase in the number of SETAHE, which increased from 12% to 20% between 1984 and 1992, and subsequently accounted for a fifth of all teaching staff in higher education.

Figure 3

Change in the composition of academic staff by employment status (1984-2013)

Figure 3

Change in the composition of academic staff by employment status (1984-2013)

Scope: All teachers in MENESR institutions.
Interpretation: The proportion of assistant teachers (ASES) in higher education decreased steadily from 1984 until ceasing to exist in the middle of the 2000s.
Source: FH from MENESR.

14A study of the history of the university system in France shows that secondary education posts have played a crucial role in academic careers since the nineteenth century, and in the twentieth century have contributed to the relationship between secondary education and the university system (Karady 1983; Charle 1985, 1986; Charle et Ferré 1985; Verneuil 2005; Chapoulie et al. 2010).

15Secondary education teachers, agrégés in particular, have been a central part of all planned or implemented reforms to transform the structure of academic posts as the number of jobs increased, and, from the 1960s onwards, played a key role in the mass expansion of the education system. In order to understand this, it is important to recall a particular organizational aspect of the university system: it trains its own workforce as well as the workforce of the entire education system. State higher education institutions have a monopoly on the training of all teaching staff who work within any area (institutions, programs, and training) recognized and funded by the state. The university system therefore draws its workforce from those who use its services. There appear to be few other categories of public organization that have a monopoly on both the entire training and the employment of their staff. To take a very similar professional category, researchers in public research institutions are not trained by the institutions that employ them.

16The public higher education system thus has sole control over the quality of its staff. It seeks out mechanisms for the selection, recruitment, and employment of staff that suit the tasks it has to implement, and takes advantage of the institutional autonomy granted by its monopoly on expertise over the production and reproduction of its staff to adopt employment practices that evolve to suit its growth and diversification.

17The system of teaching posts that prevailed from the beginning of the nineteenth century until the 1960s placed professors and lecturers right at the top of the hierarchy: only they had the statutory power to combine the three functions of research, teaching, and faculty self-governance, and a plethora of subordinate posts came under their authority. [7] As noted above, the university’s monopoly on the training and employment of its teaching staff allowed it to create numerous positions that came under the control of professors: substitutes, “préparateurs,” “chargé de cours,” “chefs de travaux,” associate professors, etc. Temporary, transitory, stable, or probationary, and either managed in a discretionary manner by professors or benefitting from certain statutory protections, the characteristics of these different kinds of post could vary depending on the institution, and even more so on the faculty. Science faculties consolidated these different types of job within the position of assistant in 1925, while humanities faculties did not create this role until 1942, and the status of assistants was unclear until the 1960 decree creating a differentiation between maîtres-assistants and assistants. The work allocated by professors, and carried out within the margins of maneuver negotiated by these support staff within a long-term working relationship, was restricted to teaching (practical work, giving lectures, etc.) and research support, though in some cases came closer to that of a full professor. In the sciences, research tasks offered young scientists greater initiative, and this was reflected in their statutory guarantees. The secondary education agrégés were important for filling these subordinate posts, as shown by the mechanisms put in place to promote them and by the number of agrégés occupying the posts (Mayeur 1985; Verneuil 2005). Two reasons might be suggested for this. Firstly, before the two waves of growth in the second half of the twentieth century, the purpose of the French university system was to train staff for primary, secondary, and higher education. In this context, the university was heavily involved in preparing and managing the agrégé selection examination. The examination combined the principles of selectivity and merit-based reward, the core values of a hierarchical higher education system. The highly symbolic status of agrégé was strongly reinforced by a cumulative selection process, with those passing the exams including a high proportion of graduates from the École Normale Supérieure, often those with the best grades (Karady 1983; Sirinelli 1988). Through the agrégés the university thus had direct control over the quality of staff it wished to train and that it could draw on to fill subordinate positions. It also created a selective system for careers leading all the way up to professorship.

18And this leads to the second mechanism underlying the practical value of the agrégation system. Throughout the nineteenth century and up until the 1970s, numerous authors writing on the university system and plans for reform highlighted that “clearly, there cannot be an insurmountable barrier between secondary and higher education” (De Baecque report 1974, 18). This is because secondary education teachers provide universities with two vital resources.

19Firstly, the work carried out by SETAHE in the higher education activities that contribute to a diploma but are not a specialization in themselves is very similar to the work they carry out in the final years of the secondary education system. This is the case, for example, in language teaching. When higher education diversified—with the creation of the short, selective, and vocational IUT courses, and more recently, the additional training provided to teachers themselves by the IUFM—these institutions required support for teaching rather than research, thus justifying the assignment of teaching staff from secondary education.

20Secondly, occupying a secondary education teaching post has long been a way of gaining access to a university career, especially in humanities faculties (Charle 1994). Employing agrégés was particularly beneficial for both functional and economic reasons, as the hierarchy of higher education posts was not well balanced: higher-ranking teachers (professors, and lecturers after 1877) had power over a whole group of subordinate support teachers. Some of these staff were under a kind of conditional appointment for higher level posts and were entrusted with three kinds of probationary task: they substituted for professors in the tasks delegated to them, they carried out the doctoral research necessary for gaining access to a permanent post, and were given temporary positions in career paths that could be reversed, creating a surplus of candidates for the competitive selection procedures for appointment to professorial rank. In this respect at least, the dual structure of the French educational system appears to be similar to that of the American university system in which tenure, in the same or another university, is dependent on the quality of postdoctoral work. Conditional appointment of those in temporary positions makes it possible to carry out screening and selection and thus deal with concerns of moral hazard and job allocation (Coupé et al. 2006).

Employing SETAHE to support teaching and the creation of new courses

21Although experience in secondary education and the acquisition of agrégé status has long been a standard means of gaining access to work in higher education (Karady 1983; Verneuil 2005), the statuses of agrégé and certifié teachers in secondary education were not officially created until 1972. [8] Since 1993, the teaching load has been 384 hours per year [9] and can be reduced to a third, or even half of that number, if teachers are studying for a doctorate. [10] Our data allows us to quantify the contribution of these teachers to higher education. Since the 1990s, SETAHE have accounted for a fifth of higher education staff, and their overall contribution to teaching hours is by definition higher, as they tend to teach twice as many hours as teacher-researchers.

SETAHE employment varies according to institution and discipline

22In order to establish whether teachers assigned to higher education are concentrated in certain sectors it is necessary to look at the types of institution in which they work and the disciplines they teach. Table 1 shows that the contribution of SETAHE to academic output is much greater on courses and in institutions that are explicitly selective or vocational—engineering schools, the Ecoles Normales Supérieures (ENS), IUT, and IUFM, in increasing order of secondary education teacher employment. As the IUFM—recently renamed ESPE—train secondary education teachers, it is unsurprising to find that they include a large number of both categories of secondary education teachers providing instruction. The IUT, where 40% of teaching staff are SETAHE, together with advanced technical training sections, grandes écoles entrance classes, and the grandes écoles themselves, make up three of the four major selective programs in higher education. The success rate of students on these programs is due not only to initial selective recruitment, but also due to the full-time commitment of teachers, which frees them from the inherent tension between teaching and research in university work (Bourdieu 1981; Rauscher 2010; Daverne and Dutercq 2013). Table 1 also shows the respective proportions of agrégés and certifiés in the different types of institution. Unlike the IUT and IUFM, the ENS employ agrégés almost exclusively. This is largely because of the special status of agrégé préparateur unique to these institutions, in which the teaching load of staff is half that of the statutory commitments of SETAHE in other institutions (AERES 2009). An interim conclusion may be drawn from the varying use of SETAHE: their over-representation in selective higher education courses is a reflection of the large amount of teaching and educational support in their work. The ENS are the only institutions that openly encourage SETAHE to pursue teaching and research. More evidence will be provided on this below. Unlike vocational and selective courses, the grands établissements, which have a greater focus on research, and where teaching is largely at a doctoral level, employ few secondary education teachers. [11] Universities fall between the two extremes.

Table 1

Proportion of SETAHE by institution in 2013

Type of institutionNumbersProportion of SETAHE (%)Proportion of agrégés (%)Proportion of certifiés (%)
2-Engineering schools3,59718.413.25.2
3-Grands établissements1,7035.93.82.1

Proportion of SETAHE by institution in 2013

Scope: All SETAHE
Interpretation: Agrégés and certifiés employed in higher education account for 6.7% and 5.3% of university teaching staff respectively, and 13.2% and 5.2% of MENESR engineering school staff.
Source: FH from MENESR.

23Table 2 shows the number of SETAHE by discipline. [12] The proportion is higher than average in physical education and sports science (STAPS), languages and literature, arts, philosophy, social sciences (essentially management), and mathematics, with percentages varying between 56% and 23%. These are mainly subjects that are taught at secondary level. And in terms of course content, as secondary subjects, they contribute to the specialist training of students (e.g. in language learning, mathematics for social sciences, biology, chemistry and physics, etc.).

Table 2

Proportion of SETAHE by discipline in 2013

DisciplineNumbersProportion of SETAHE
Proportion of agrégés (%)Proportion of certifiés (%)
Economic, social and management sciences6,27026.114.211.9
B-Modern and classical literature2,64540.019.520.5
C1-Anglo-Saxon languages3,89755.622.832.8
C2-Germanic and Slavic languages82226,818.18.6
C3-Romance languages1,41428,315.213.1
C4-Other languages55612,24.97.4
F-History and geography3,16411.97.64.4
G2-Computer science3,6031.70.11.6
H-Physics and chemistry7,63210.17.82.3
I-Engineering sciences8,86120.114.06.2
J-Earth and life sciences4,8837.45.22.2
K-Education and communication3,4187.40.07.4
L-Physical education and sports science (STAPS)2,32164.227.736.5

Proportion of SETAHE by discipline in 2013

Scope: All secondary education teachers assigned to MENESR institutions
Interpretation: Agrégés and certifiés assigned to higher education account respectively for 12.6 and 13.1% of philosophy teachers and 27.7% and 36.5% of STAPS teachers.
Source: FH from MENESR.

A temporary use of support teachers?

24Tables 1 and 2 show that the two disciplines with the highest proportion of SETAHE are connected to the major changes that took place in French higher education during the three decades covered by our analysis. In the periods covered by our data, two waves of growth in SETAHE stand out. The first, in 1990, coincided with the incorporation of around 850 secondary STAPS teachers into the higher education system when the discipline achieved university status in 1983. [13] The second peak occurred in 1992 and was the direct result of the creation of the IUFM two years earlier in 1990. These two cases of very high SETAHE use may therefore only have been a temporary phenomenon. As a contribution to the expansion of higher education provision, we might hypothesize that the employment of secondary education teachers has two functions: strengthening specialist teaching for both selective vocational courses and non-specialist disciplines; and fulfilling a temporary need for teachers for new courses. In the latter case, we would expect to see the contribution to the creation of new courses followed by the creation of new university academic posts, with teaching-only posts added to gradually by the appointment of teacher-researchers—which would contribute to raising the academic value of the course and integrating the research element expected from a university course. This hypothesis can be tested by looking at the annual change in the numbers of SETAHE in the two areas created in the 1990s, the IUFM and STAPS. [14]

25Figure 4a confirms that the development of these subject areas led to the gradual academization of their staff through the incorporation of the standard academic posts of lecturer and professor. [15] Figure 4b illustrates a dimension that complements the academization process, the substitution of SETAHE certifiés by SETAHE agrégés, particularly in STAPS, in line with a classic professionalization mechanism (Abbott, 1988) that gradually raises the academic status of SETAHE in these courses to that of universities (see Table 1).

26We have thus identified two main structural changes. Firstly, the employment of SETAHE has been a response to the expansion of the university system, particularly in areas with a high need for teaching (selective and vocational courses, and subjects with significant involvement in a range of different courses). Secondly, it has enabled the creation of disciplines (such as STAPS) or even institutions (such as the IUFM) within the French public education system.

Career prospects for SETAHE: secondary staff, or a selective internal market?

27There are three possible career paths for SETAHE: 1) to continue working exclusively as a teacher; 2) following a period working only as a teacher, to join the university staff as a lecturer or professor, according to the normal recruitment procedures (doctorate, qualification, and success in a competitive selection procedure for the post sought); and 3) to return to secondary teaching or leave the profession. We will look only at the first two of these options given the lack of information on SETAHE leaving higher education.

28The distribution of these two broad career paths depends on the way disciplines function, the use of teaching-only posts in certain types of institution, and the conditions under which individuals pursue doctoral research and produce publications that make it possible for them to become a teacher-researcher.

An institutional view of promotion

29We will look first at the chances of SETAHE being appointed as lecturers with the help of a set of survival analyses. The analyses measure the influence of three variables with a determining effect on the employment of these teachers: the distinction between the two types of secondary education teachers, certifiés (PRCE) and agrégés (PRAG); the three types of faculty; and the type of institution in which the SETAHE work. We also consider a fourth variable, gender, which available research reveals may have a negative effect on the chances of promotion in higher education (Long et al. 1993; Marry 2008).

Figures 4a-4b

Annual change in the numbers of SETAHE employed and change in the proportion of certifiés among these SETAHE (comparison between IUFM and STAPS)

Figures 4a-4b

Annual change in the numbers of SETAHE employed and change in the proportion of certifiés among these SETAHE (comparison between IUFM and STAPS)

Scope: All secondary education teachers assigned to MENESR institutions
Interpretation: In 1995, the proportion of SETAHE in IUFM and STAPS was approximately 85% for IUFM and the STAPS discipline.
Source: FH from MENESR.

30Figures 5a and 5d show the chance of SETAHE being promoted to lecturer status, and are based on longitudinal career data.

Figures 5a-5b-5c-5d

Theoretical promotion to lecturer posts (survival analysis)

Figures 5a-5b-5c-5d

Theoretical promotion to lecturer posts (survival analysis)

Scope: All SETAHE 1984-2013.
Interpretation: After 30 years, one PRAG in three theoretically became a lecturer, compared to one in ten PRCE.
Source: FH from MENESR.

31These survival analyses reveal no differences in the chances of promotion between men and women, but they do reveal a clear picture for the other variables. The likelihood of promotion opportunities revealed in the variable axis is overall just a little over 30% in the most favorable conditions—those of being an agrégé and teaching in a humanities faculty in a university. Only one variable induces a positive distortion: the position of a teacher working in an Ecole Normale Supérieure, who is twice as likely to be promoted to lecturer, and at a faster rate.

32Secondary education teachers employed in higher education come from two categories—agrégés and certifiés—based on the level and selection procedures used for their appointment. This gives us an idea of the academic level of individuals before they move into higher education. In fact, as shown in Figure 5a, certifiés are three times less likely to be promoted to lecturer, in line with the long history of links between secondary education and higher education (Mayeur, 1985; Verneuil, 2005), which has always differentiated between secondary education teachers likely to work in higher education according to their status. These differences are apparent in the career paths over time, with agrégés being more likely than certifiés to be promoted to lecturer. Table 3 shows the average age of SETAHE at the beginning of their employment in higher education and the average length of time before their promotion to lecturer, which can be compared to the age of individuals directly appointed to lecturer posts. SETAHE agrégés who become teacher-researchers are employed in higher education at an average age similar to that of newly recruited lecturers: these SETAHE will have received a temporary posting to an academic role. The difference in age between the agrégés and certifiés at the two stages shown reveals the advantage gained by agrégés in undertaking a thesis and/or qualifying research while still teaching and thus making up for an age disadvantage in the competition. [16]

Table 3

Age at appointment and time taken for SETAHE to achieve lecturer status

Average age at time of becoming SETAHE39.534.6
Average time working as SETAHE5.84.9
Average age at time of becoming lecturer45.239.634.1

Age at appointment and time taken for SETAHE to achieve lecturer status

Scope: SETAHE employed from 1985 who became lecturers up to 2014. The 43,939 individuals in the third column are lecturers recruited directly.
Interpretation: Certifiés are appointed at an average age of forty-five, eleven years later than those recruited directly.
Source: FH from MENESR.

33Figure 5c demonstrates that chances of promotion vary considerably according to discipline (here broken down into faculty groupings). The sciences have traditionally drawn on types of staff and applied measures to meet the need for teachers and research in a very different way to those used by law, economics, and management faculties, and particularly humanities faculties (Verneuil 2005). This continues to be the case.

34Data is available for the period between 2003 and 2013 on the position of lecturers immediately before their appointment, and Figure 6 shows the sources of recruitment for the three faculties. The divide between the humanities and law, economics, and management and the sciences was considerable in the first period under scrutiny and grew over the course of the decade. In the sciences, the dramatic increase in postdoctoral contracts as a result of funding based on competitive tendering processes led to longer probationary periods in the highly precarious training phase and expanded the supply of French and international candidates for permanent jobs (Stephan 2012; Powell 2015).

Figure 6

Activities of lecturers in the year prior to their appointment

Figure 6

Activities of lecturers in the year prior to their appointment

Note: Qualified secondary education teachers: assistants, agrégés, certifiés, primary education teachers, other qualified teachers.
Contracted teacher-researchers: temporary teacher-researchers, monitors, language assistants, grant holders, scholarship holders, substitutes.
Research activities: contracted researchers, postdoctoral students, researchers in private institutions, research abroad.
Qualified researchers: research engineers, design engineers, non-teaching officials.
Scope: Lecturers appointed in MENESR institutions
Interpretation: Between 2003 and 2005, 31.7% of humanities lecturers were qualified secondary education teachers in the year prior to their appointment, compared to 7.5% in law and 4.2% in sciences.
Source: IGAENR, our calculations.

35These jobs compete with the traditional combinations of teaching and research (in short term contracts, for example), but in the sciences the competitive value of such contracts decreases as experience and research performance become more important in gaining access to permanent academic jobs. The same is true of the two other faculty areas, but at a slower rate. The link between research and teaching is a structural phenomenon and has a clear influence on recruitment: between 2010 and 2013, teaching (on a temporary contract or as an SETAHE) was the core activity of about 50% of those who would go on to become lecturers in law, economics, and management, and 60% in the humanities, as against 27% in the sciences. Lastly, the pool of teachers provided by the SETAHE (qualified secondary education teachers in the figure) is of greatest importance to the humanities, with law, economics, and management preferring to use temporary assistants and substitute teachers. The very different structures of the SETAHE recruitment pools and their different development over time explain why the chances of SETAHE becoming teacher-researchers are significantly higher in humanities faculties, where they will have undertaken more individual doctoral research than in the sciences, where a teamwork approach is more typical (Renisio 2017).

36Figure 5d shows the types of institution: this is the most distinctive variable, as the scale used in the vertical axis is twice as high as in the other graphs, and the gaps between institutions are most clearly marked: universities, which employ the majority of SETAHE, are in the middle, and the vocational and selective institutions, which as we have explained draw heavily on this category of staff, are low in the distribution, confirming that the work of teachers in these institutions is much less connected to research than in other higher education institutions. The opposite is true for the ENS, in which research is very strongly organized and encouraged, explaining their high position on the graph. Lastly, Figures 5c and 5d demonstrate the specialization of teaching in the IUFM and STAPS: the chances of becoming a lecturer in these institutions are low, which undermines the hypothesis of a closed internal market offering good chances of promotion in these areas once created.

Individual career paths and the alignment of selection hurdles

37Our first approach to careers involved an institutional analysis of the career opportunities for SETAHE, based on the discipline and the kind of institution they were working in. We will now study individual teachers’ progress, based on whether they remained in their original higher education post or became lecturers.

38There are four distinct hurdles to overcome in order to become a lecturer: 1) of all the SETAHE, only some pursue a doctoral thesis and thus become eligible to qualify for a lecturer post; 2) of those who apply, only some receive qualification from the Conseil National des Universités (CNU) (National University Council); 3) of those who become qualified, only some obtain a post as lecturer; 4) of the SETAHE who become lecturers, some are appointed outside the institution they have been working in.

39This last observation is all the more telling in the light of the belated promotion of secondary education teachers, which is revealed by the older age of lecturers coming from the ranks of SETAHE. This age difference penalizes SETAHE teachers when competing with other candidates, who are mainly recruited from other temporary research and university teaching positions. Nevertheless, as we will see below, this distance is reduced or ceases to exist if they are recruited from the same institution and if seniority is taken into account. This suggests the involvement of a promotional mechanism within an internal market. An institution derives two advantages from employing secondary education teachers and allowing them to compete in an internal job market: first, the institution employs teachers whose effort it can monitor while ascertaining whether they are able to carry out research to a high enough standard to qualify for an academic position; and second, it subjects its teachers to a competitive selection process in order to identify those it judges best suited to the teacher-researcher posts available. [17]

Figure 7

Distribution of ages at the time of appointment to lecturer by previous position

Figure 7

Distribution of ages at the time of appointment to lecturer by previous position

Scope: All staff achieving lecturer status.
Interpretation: Almost 13% of those directly appointed to lecturer status do so at the age of 30, as against 4% of PRAG and 1% of PRCE at the same age.
Source: FH from MENESR.

40Figure 7 shows the ages at which lecturers are appointed and confirms that beyond the fact that teachers become lecturers later than those appointed directly, the chances of appointment reduce more slowly with age for secondary education teachers, which strengthens the hypothesis of an internal selective promotion market. This localized recruitment has some negative trade-offs, in particular with regard to reputation and scientific quality: beyond the assessment criteria for candidates from all backgrounds competing for a post, local recruitment seems to favor teaching over research, whose value is assessed on a national and international level, and never simply locally. [18] The hypothesis of mobility within an internal market is in fact borne out by the career progress of the SETAHE: while 60% of the PRAG and 64% of the PRCE who obtained a lecturer post were working as SETAHE in the institution in which they were appointed, only 20% of non-SETAHE lecturers produced their doctoral thesis in the same institution. [19] We will endeavor to identify the reasons for this lack of mobility.

The chances of becoming a lecturer: a model with four components

41In order to model the individual chances of SETAHE becoming lecturers, we used two sets of variables: those describing the personal characteristics provided by our data on individuals and their career path (gender, original status, age they entered the workforce, years employed as SETAHE, and mobility between institutions), and those describing the organizational characteristics of the post occupied before their access to the post of lecturer, if applicable (location, type of institution, discipline, number of SETAHE working in the same institution). We carried out a logistic regression analysis, the results of which are shown in Table 4, columns 3 to 5. We also measured the influence of the above variables on the probability of obtaining a post outside the institution to which SETAHE were assigned in order to discover whether their assignment to higher education favors the creation of internal markets in certain institutions (logistic regression in column 6).

Table 4

Logistic regressions of stages leading to appointment as a lecturer

1. Variable2. LevelRegression based on:
3. Application for qualification as lecturer4. Successful qualification as lecturer5. Appointment as lecturer6. Appointment as lecturer in another institution
Intercept- 3.3971***+ 0.7738***- 1.0360***- 0.0619
PRAG+ 0.7349***+ 0.6511***- 0.0167- 0.2295
Male+ 0.0920**+ 0.0855+ 0.1986***+ 0.0200
Geographical location1- Central Paris+ 0.0779- 0.0001- 0.2176- 0.1759
2-Paris suburbsRef..Ref..Ref..Ref..
3-Outside Paris region- 0.0982*- 0.1098- 0.1533- 0.9436***
Change of institutionNo changeRef..Ref..Ref..Ref.
Change+ 0.0426- 0.1181- 0.0167+ 0.5589**

Logistic regressions of stages leading to appointment as a lecturer

Type of institution0-Various+ 0.0265- 0.0422+ 1.7195***- 1.1283
2-Engineering schools- 0.5487***- 0.1907- 0.1977- 0.5918
3-Grands établissements- 0.1558- 0.0205- 0.4985- 0.1612
4-ENS+ 0.9959***+ 0.9019***- 0.0272+ 0.9946***
5-IUT- 0.8657***- 0.2610**- 0.1357+ 0.1111
6-IUFM- 0.0897- 0.2992***+ 0.0409+ 0.4242**
Proportion of SETAHE in institutionUp to 18.3%+ 0.0110+ 0.0979- 0.0311- 0.0640
From 18.3% to 24.2%Ref..Ref..Ref..Ref..
More than 24.2%- 0.0724- 0.0050+ 0.0975+ 0.0207
FacultyLaw (Mgt.)- 0.4645***- 0.8480***+ 0.9611***- 0.2472
Sciences- 0.6844***- 0.4753***- 0.5026***- 0.7857***
STAPS- 0.9780***- 1.2578***- 0.3468**- 0.4136
Observation periodUp to 2006- 0.1145**- 0.0848+ 0.1977**- 0.1373
2010-2013- 0.0902*- 0.0210- 0.3191***+ 0.1257
Age of appointment to SETAHE23-33+ 0.3655***+ 0.3119***+ 0.1817**+ 0.5797***
43 and over- 0.5359***- 0.4077***- 0.2977***- 0.0867
Years as SETAHE1-5 years+ 0.2600***+ 0.0142- 0.0863+ 0.6861***
6-12 yearsRef..Ref..Ref..Ref..
13 years and over- 0.9230***- 0.1406- 0.3158***- 0.6215***
C INDEX0.7350.6840.6260.723
Note: The C index indicates the proportion of cases where the highest score was by the individual who succeeded in all individual pairs in which one “succeeded” in the test and the other did not. These are called concordant cases. In our case, the concordance rate is close to 74% for obtaining qualification, but goes down to 63% for appointment.
*** p < 0.01; ** p < 0.05; * p < 0.1.

42Let us look first at the overall results of these regressions (columns 3 to 6). Only the variables of age at appointment to SETAHE and faculty discipline show significant coefficients in all four regressions. To overcome the various hurdles from candidacy through to selection, young age has a significant advantage, all other variables being equal, and this is even greater in relation to acquiring a lecturer post outside the original institution. This suggests, in other words, that teaching full-time is only complementary to the necessary doctoral research for those of a similar age to other competing candidates, and only for a short time (column 3 shows the positive effect of low seniority as SETAHE on the chances of qualifying).

43In the sciences, combining full-time teaching activity with the research commitments necessary for qualification and promotion to an academic position seems to be particularly counterproductive. [20] In these disciplines it is the accumulation of research expertise, particularly in temporary postdoctoral posts, that makes candidates most competitive, while the combination of teaching and research is more highly valued, or easier to value, in the humanities (with the exception of STAPS). Modeling the different stages, one by one, brings out several salient results. Firstly, the number of variables with a significant effect is highest during the qualification stage (column 3): this reveals the capacity—obtaining a doctorate—and the disposition—actually applying—shown by secondary education teachers working in higher education to carry out qualifying research. Agrégés clearly have an advantage, particularly those working in ENS; by contrast, prolonged teaching-only jobs in selective and vocational courses (IUT, engineering schools) significantly reduce the chances of an academic career. Stage 2, that of obtaining qualification (column 4), confirms the positive or negative influence of the factors highlighted in stage 1.

44Of the SETAHE who have the characteristics needed for a career in higher education (thesis, qualifications, publications, research and teaching experience), the success of those who gain a lecturer position can be explained mainly by factors other than those which might have had an effect on the chances of qualifying for the selection tests. If the competition is fair and unbiased, it is the quality of the research portfolio that is important, but in this article we have not compared lecturers’ research portfolios according to whether they were SETAHE—or, for the vast majority, were not SETAHE—when they were first appointed. [21] The large number of non-significant variables in the third regression (column 5) and notably the elimination of the advantage of agrégé status, so strong in stages 1 and 2, demonstrate this change in the nature of favorable and unfavorable characteristics. It is noticeable however that the capacity of SETAHE who receive qualification from the CNU to become lecturers is clearly gendered, and increases the difference already noted in stage 1, in relation to the chances of completing a qualifying thesis. This result, which requires confirmation by a study of the research output of candidates, suggests that carrying out research while teaching takes more of a toll on women, confirming the results of studies into later career stages (Mairesse and Pezzoni 2015). The fourth regression (column 6) assesses whether the chances of local recruitment of SETAHE are higher or lower (see Annex). The results suggest a significant number of local internal markets that value SETAHE experience, particularly in institutions outside Paris and the Île de France region (with a negative coefficient for chances of being appointed to a post outside the original institution). Conversely, the variables of young age and working in an ENS, which we saw increase the chance of SETAHE achieving qualification while combining teaching and research, act significantly against local recruitment. The value of a teacher’s work is established and evaluated locally, while that of a researcher is by definition supralocal.

45The hierarchy of factors is clear: in order to compete effectively with applicants for higher education posts it is better to be a PRAG than a PRCE, to work in an ENS or a university rather than in an IUT or IUFM, to teach in a humanities faculty, and to qualify at a young age. There are two clear poles. On selective courses, teachers assigned to ENS—veritable incubators for academic careers for agrégés who attended an ENS themselves—benefit from a reduction in teaching hours in order to complete their thesis, and thus contrast with those assigned to the IUTs, which require a major commitment to teaching. And in the central segment of higher education, the universities, there is a contrast between humanities faculties and science faculties. Research output in the sciences is based on teamwork, the division of roles, working mobility, and project-specific funding. This means that teachers are less involved in research, while in humanities completing a thesis followed by further qualifying research dovetails more easily with teaching commitments. These differences correspond to different types of link between teaching and research, depending on whether research is in line with certain paradigms, whether research is integrated with teaching in a horizontal or more diffuse manner, and whether it is based on a vertical hierarchy and the accumulation of experience (Braxton and Hargens 1996; Colbeck 1998).

46The expansion of higher education and its political instrumentation have caused the Humboldtian model linking teaching and research to evolve. Our analyses have revealed the major use of SETAHE in the period studied, and the variety of uses depending on disciplines and establishments.

47The use of staff assigned to higher education is analyzed in three ways: the first two analyses provide an insight into how institutions work and how tasks are allocated, while the third provides an understanding of career paths and the behavior of individuals within the hierarchy of either teaching-only, or teaching and research jobs. The first analysis begins with observation of the large number of SETAHE in short and selective higher education courses and in disciplines with a significant involvement across other courses. It reveals an initial use of SETAHE to meet the need for more teachers. Our data demonstrate this for the IUT, but studies of teachers, and of what might be called the “contract of effort” between teachers and their students in grandes écoles entrance classes, lead to the same conclusions: working solely as a teacher is not viewed negatively as a professional role, unlike in cases where teaching leads to calculating the opportunity cost of time not dedicated to research. This opportunity cost is, it should be noted, reflected in a semantic asymmetry: the relative value of the tasks are reflected in the fact that one speaks of teaching load, but never of research load.

48The second analysis demonstrates another use of these teachers: they were used to provide support during the expansion of university courses, particularly in undergraduate courses where expansion resulted from the removal of selection hurdles. The link that we highlighted between SETAHE numbers and the second major expansion of higher education demonstrates this clearly.

49The third analysis explores the chances of SETAHE achieving promotion, and, in particular, one of its outcomes: local recruitment of a very high proportion of these teachers to lecturer posts.

50Analysis of the promotional prospects of those recruited to work exclusively as teachers reveals what may appear to be a French variant of a conditional appointment mechanism implemented by universities that only offer permanent employment after a probationary period. This third use of secondary education teaching staff resembles an internal market model in which some of the entrants at the base of an employment pyramid serve as a pool for the demographic renewal of more senior positions.

51Secondary education staff are also used very differently across the different disciplines and institutions in French higher education, depending on whether they are employed only to teach or whether they are also engaged in research.

52There is a long tradition of sole specialization in either teaching or research in French higher education, either teaching on selective courses, or working in research institutions. The functional specialization of tasks is therefore nothing new, although its various modalities and effects have received little academic attention. Debates in recent years about the possible introduction of changes to the conditions of teacher-researchers have also raised questions about the regulation, on both an individual and collective level, of the link between teaching and research and its asymmetries. Sociological analysis of this regulation process and the compromises and conflicts it generates must consider the different stages in the division of academic work and their corresponding modalities (Strauss 1985):

531) Firstly, characterization of teaching and research staff as a whole is needed, with the different categories of employment (temporary and permanent) and single or multiple tasks entrusted to their status. Within that group distinctions must also be made between three categories of staff: those in scientific and technological public institutions (CNRS, INRA, INED, etc.) in which research is the main activity; secondary teaching staff in higher education, who are responsible solely for teaching; [22] and lastly, academics, who are responsible for both teaching and research.

542) Secondly, distinctions must be made within this body of teachers and teacher-researchers based on the two factors identified in this article, notably the discipline, and the type of institution and course.

553) Lastly, consideration must be given to individual allocation of time and effort spent on various academic activities over a career, depending on the individual’s commitments, productivity, lifestyle, and family circumstances (Link et al. 2008; Paye 2013).

56Our contribution has been limited to examining all or part of points 1 and 2. Other, more focused, analyses need to be carried out to reveal differences within the same institution, depending on the way it is organized. Moreover, the differentiation of universities based on their research performance, and the differentiated allocation of resources resulting from policies that favor their concentration in the hands of a small number of institutions restructured through mergers raises new questions about academic stratification in France, and its impact on the specialization of universities and the work of their staff. In this respect, our article and the materials it presents provide an insight into the morphology of the professional groups and division of academic work that has prevailed since the 1984 Act, and represent a basis for future comparison with the transformations currently in progress.

We would like to thank the editorial board of the journal for all their comments and suggestions on the first version of this article. Any correspondence should be sent to
tableau im8
Results of regressions (annual observations) 1. Variable 2. Level Regression on: 3. Application for qualification 4. Successful qualification 5. Appointment to lecturer 6. Appointment in another institution # % # % # % # % Application for qualification No 121,244 97.7 Yes 2,846 2.3 Successful qualification No 1,065 30.9 Yes 2,387 69.1 Appointment to lecturer No 4,592 77.9 Yes 1,300 22.1 Local recruitment No 509 39.2 Yes 791 60.8 Status PRCE 56,169 45.3 907 26.3 1 199 20.3 257 19.8 PRAG 67,921 54.7 2 545 73.7 4 693 79.7 1 043 80.2 Gender Female 53,345 43.0 1 674 48.5 2 951 50.1 627 48.2 Male 70,745 57.0 1,778 51.5 2,941 49.9 673 51.8 Geographic location 1-Central Paris 7,249 5.8 367 10.6 683 11.6 148 11.4 2-Paris suburbs 16,180 13.0 500 14.5 844 14.3 212 16.3 3-Outside Paris region 100,661 81.1 2,585 74.9 4 365 74.1 940 72.3 Change of institution No change 112,927 91.0 3,140 91.0 5 353 90.9 1 187 91.3 Change 11,163 9.0 312 9.0 539 9.1 113 8.7 Type of institution 0-Various 375 0.3 14 0.4 14 0.2 8 0.6 1-University 53,983 43.5 1,938 56.1 3 410 57.9 779 59.9 2-Engineering school 6,132 4.9 132 3.8 277 4.7 47 3.6 3-Grands établissements 897 0.7 42 1.2 78 1.3 14 1.1 4-ENS 1,383 1.1 194 5.6 362 6.1 88 6.8
tableau im9
5-IUT 38,169 30.8 545 15.8 887 15.1 182 14.0 6-IUFM 23,151 18.7 587 17.0 864 14.7 182 14.0 Proportion of SETAHE in institution Up to 18.3% 41,306 33.3 1,233 35.7 2,230 37.8 469 36.1 From 18.3% to 24.2% 41,624 33.5 1 113 32.2 1,830 31.1 392 30.2 More than 24.2% 41,160 33.2 1 106 32.0 1,832 31.1 439 33.8 Faculty Law 15,623 12.6 320 9.3 292 5.0 131 10.1 Humanities 50,802 40.9 1 976 57.2 3,630 61.6 831 63.9 Sciences 40,503 32.6 884 25.6 1,650 28.0 283 21.8 STAPS 17,162 13.8 272 7.9 320 5.4 55 4.2 Observation period Up to 2006 44,045 35.5 1,521 44.1 1,997 33.9 529 40.7 2007-09 34,418 27.7 896 26.0 1,706 29.0 387 29.8 2010-13 45,627 36.8 1,035 30.0 2,189 37.2 384 29.5 Age appointed to SETAHE 23-33 40,986 33.0 1,632 47.3 3,006 51.0 712 54.8 34-42 43,532 35.1 1,074 31.1 1,781 30.2 382 29.4 43 and over 39,563 31.9 746 21.6 1,103 18.7 206 15.8 Years as SETAHE 1-5 years 33,344 26.9 1,497 43.4 2,561 43.5 562 43.2 6-12 years 45,162 36.4 1 440 41.7 2,329 39.5 567 43.6 13 years or more 45,584 36.7 515 14.9 1,002 17.0 171 13.2


  • [1]
    For example, all the studies resulting from the implementation of the Research Assessment Exercise in the UK (Paye 2016) or those instigated by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (National Research Agency) in France (Schultz 2016).
  • [2]
    Another, internal, mechanism to differentiate between careers in the French public university system is regularly proposed and equally regularly rejected: that of specializing in either of the two tasks, together with procedures to evaluate and incentivize performance in the respective areas (IGAENR 2015). This mechanism is, in fact, well-established in certain institutions outside the public university system, such as in the major business schools (Menger et al. 2015). On the segmentation of the French higher education system, see Pierre Bourdieu (1984) and Emmanuelle Picard (2009). On the social principles of differentiation within university disciplines, see Bernard Convert (2013), Brice Le Gall and Charles Soulié (2008), and Yann Renisio (2015).
  • [3]
    Translator’s note: Unless otherwise stated, all translations of cited foreign language material in this article are our own.
  • [4]
    This study was supported by the MENESR General Directorate of Human Resources and, in particular, by Brice Lannaud, Bruno Reguigne, Marc Bideault, and Julien Thirion, to whom we would like to give our heartfelt thanks. We would also like to express our sincere thanks to Pierre Verschueren for his revisions of this article.
  • [5]
    This is a file provided by the MENESR General Directorate of Human Resources. It includes anonymized annual information (age, gender, nationality, statutory position, discipline, and place of employment) on each of the teacher-researchers active between 1984 and 2014 in one of the 177 higher education institutions managed by the ministry.
  • [6]
    See in particular the Quermonne report (1981), which reviewed changes in employment status.
  • [7]
    The position of maître de conference was created in 1878, although the definition of the role was different to that created by the 1984 law. See Françoise Mayeur (1985) for more on the creation of this position in the nineteenth century and on its divided identity.
  • [8]
    Articles 4 of decrees 72-580 and 72-581 stipulate specifically that these employees “may be assigned to institutions of higher education.”
  • [9]
    Decree 93-461.
  • [10]
    Decree 2000-552.
  • [11]
    The term “grand établissement” is a legal term introduced in the Savary Act and stipulates certain provisions within the Education Code. The current list, which also includes the Écoles nationales supérieures, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, École centrale, École polytechnique, Institut d’études politiques de Paris, and the Paris Dauphine University, is the subject of a power struggle, as the particular status of these institutions allows them to admit students selectively and charge higher student fees.
  • [12]
    In Table 2 we have kept the names of disciplinary groups that reflect their proximity to categories of subjects taught at secondary level in order to exploit the data on the allocated teachers’ disciplinary affiliation at secondary level, which is more reliable than the data showing their affiliation to university departments.
  • [13]
    This change in the figures must surely reflect the education act of July 10, 1989.
  • [14]
    The management of teaching staff in this discipline was reformed in the 1980s following the separation of sports teaching jobs, placed under the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and physical education jobs, placed under the Ministry of Education. The status of secondary agrégé in physical and sports education was created in 1982.
  • [15]
    A simultaneous study with statistical and graphic analyses on the composition of staff and their career paths in these areas is available from the authors; a report is being prepared for publication.
  • [16]
    Decree 2000-552 of June 16, 2000. See IGAENR (2016) for an analysis of SETAHE teaching load broken down by institution.
  • [17]
    As always where there is an internal market mechanism, the incentive is thus linked to selective promotion (Coupé et al. 2006).
  • [18]
    We are preparing an article on the characteristics and determinants of academic mobility (or rather lack thereof), of which one of the phases is identified here.
  • [19]
    Of the subgroup of SETAHE whose doctoral institution we have been able to identify, these figures account for 25% of agrégés and 29% of certifiés.
  • [20]
    By comparison to the reference point of the situation in humanities faculties.
  • [21]
    This comparison requires bibliometric data, which we are currently gathering and analyzing. We have not been able to compare the chances of appointment to a lecturer position depending on whether candidates are or are not SETAHE as we had no individual information on unsuccessful applicants for qualification, as the records for higher education staff only provide information on the careers of employed staff. SETAHE are unique in being employed in higher education and of having, at least some of them, visible evidence of their applications to be teacher-researchers, whether they succeed or fail.
  • [22]
    This results from large disparities in opportunities to produce research, the most highly valued activity (Loison et al. 2017).

The functional complementarity of teaching and research in academic work varies considerably across countries. Studies of the situation in France suggest that the way in which categories of teaching and research staff and the system of academic careers are organized has not fundamentally changed in the last three decades. Our analysis of the composition of the different groups of French academic personnel and their career paths highlights a category of staff neglected by the literature: those with secondary education teaching qualifications assigned to higher education, who account for a fifth of academics employed by the university. The employment of staff with teaching-only status has three distinct purposes: to provide support in the disciplines and institutions that require large numbers of teachers; to supply personnel for new courses; and to contribute to the probation and selection process for appointment to “teacher-researcher” positions. These three uses vary according to whether teaching is complementary to or exclusive of research in the various disciplines and institutions in French higher education.

  • higher education
  • research
  • career
  • division of labor
  • universities
  • academic work
  • secondary education teachers

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Pierre-Michel Menger
Chair of Sociology of Creative Work
Collège de France
3, rue d’Ulm
75005 Paris
Colin Marchika
Institute of the Contemporary World
Collège de France
3, rue d’Ulm
75005 Paris
Simon Paye
Laboratoire Lorrain de Sciences Sociales
Université de Lorraine
Campus Lettres et Sciences Humaines
23, boulevard Albert 1er – BP 13397
54015 Nancy cedex
Yann Renisio
Collège de France & Maurice Halbwachs Center
3, rue d’Ulm
75005 Paris
Pablo Zamith
Max Planck Sciences Po Research Center
28, rue des Saints Pères
75007 Paris
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