Application Fee for a Tenure-Track Job


The Department of Philosophy at the University of Milan is looking to fill a tenure-track position in applied ethics. To apply, send the university your CV, a sampling of your writing, and €25.82 ($28).

Stefanos – 20 Euro Note

The application requirements (also downloadable here), which include the fee, were brought to my attention by someone on the job market who writes:

I must say that I find this quite problematic from an ethical point of view (discouragement of people to apply, especially people from low-income countries or background). I have never seen this before in Europe. I discussed this with a colleague from Italy, who said that this is not a general practice in Italy. 

It isn’t the norm in the United States, either.

This particular fee (probably imposed by the university, not the Department of Philosophy) isn’t that steep, but were other institutions to start charging similar ones, someone who applies to, say, 36 jobs, could be put out $1000—not an insignificant amount for most people, and possibly prohibitively costly for graduate students, adjuncts, and others looking for stable long-term employment.

What other schools charge a job application fee? Have any departments been successful in convincing their universities not to charge them (perhaps by paying them)? Have any individuals tried to get such fees waived? Discussion welcome.

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Stephen Turner
Stephen Turner
1 year ago

Fits with the idea of academic appointments being like a lottery. Report

Francesco Grillo
Francesco Grillo
1 year ago

Although this is not a general practice in Italy, some Italian universities charge similar fees for PhD applications, which is perhaps worse. As far as I know, it is not possible to have these fees waived in that they are imposed by universities, which in Italy means that they are imposed by the state. Despicable as it may sound, it is just one of the ways in which Italian universities raise money.
Report

Kenny Easwaran
Reply to  Francesco Grillo
1 year ago

Graduate application fees are standard in the United States (and I believe undergraduate application fees are too). I think in these cases, the numbers involved make it plausible that the costs of the admissions office at the university really does require some funding source.Report

Not on the market
Not on the market
Reply to  Kenny Easwaran
1 year ago

Do they though? For an assistant professor position in philosophy, especially the open AOS ones (I can only speak of circumstances in the US), the number of potential applicants can easily be in the hundreds. Many graduate programs in philosophy receive approximately that many applications as well; I acknowledge, of course, that for undergraduate admissions the numbers are often way bigger.

Perhaps it could be argued that there’s more work happening at the university level when it comes to graduate admissions, compared to hiring an assistant professor. I’m not sure if that’s really the case, and even if it is, I’m not sure having applicants pay the fees is the right solution. Report

Italian professor
Italian professor
Reply to  Not on the market
1 year ago

that is never the case in Italy. for assistant professorships (“rtd-b”) in philosophy there are usually 6-7 candidates. 15-20 candidates is a lot by Italian standards. (again, I speak of philosophy, other disciplines certainly have different numbers).
they will always interview up to 6 candidates. sometimes there is no selection before the interview, because there are fewer than 6 candidates, and up until 6, they are all automatically invited to the interviewReport

On the market
On the market
1 year ago

Internal candidate? Report

Cassiano
Cassiano
1 year ago

Not only that, in some countries it is quite expensive to pay in foreign currency, not only because of the currency itself, but because in addition to that different taxes apply. If there is not the option of paying in credit card, it may even be more difficult.
In fact, to pay such a fee is already a filter of selection.Report

A
A
1 year ago

Same thing in an application for a temporary teaching position at the University of Seville, Spain:
https://docentes.us.es/index.php?page=comun/f_descargar&id_fichero=d59d7976f4d645cca77aa5d962084c9e

They ask a 15 euro payment in order to be able to apply for the positionReport

Esa Díaz León
Esa Díaz León
1 year ago

At the University of BARCELONA the fee to apply for a position at the rank of associate professor is 69€.Report

Jon Light
Jon Light
1 year ago

It’s not obvious to me that small fees are a bad idea here. When you’re on search committees that get 300+ applications every time, and when many candidates really shouldn’t be applying at all, maybe this can be a useful filter. Make it a $2 fee, for example, just some additional step that might screen unserious or non-competitive candidates. (I’d rather that than require some idiosyncratic document, like a diversity statement or whatever, that is even more burdensome on candidates.) Any of the above fees are clearly (way) too high.

I realize, that from a candidate’s perspective, this all sounds terrible. But I’d think we also need to balance things out from the faculty side, and there’s just too many applicants sometimes, which can literally add up to hundreds of hours of additional faculty time (e.g., five people on a search committee, 100 extra applications, 20 minutes per application, emails, deliberation, etc.). And sure, let there be waivers for good reasons and all that–but even asking for the waiver might have the same effect.Report

on the market too
on the market too
Reply to  Jon Light
1 year ago

There are already minor deterrents in place for ‘unserious’ and ‘non-competitive’ candidates, such as the unavoidable web forms required for most applications. If an ‘unserious’ candidate will sacrifice 15 minutes to fill out webforms and upload documents, it seems unlikely that he or she will be deterred by a $2 fee. Report

Job seeker
Job seeker
Reply to  Jon Light
1 year ago

Yeah, it’s definitely the tenure track faculty on hiring committees who are suffering the most from the current situation on the job market. We should for sure focus our efforts on making things better for them. Having 200 to 250 jobs posted every year, while having 600-700 PhDs completed (per the APDA), is a big inconvenience for the poor hiring committees. Report

JL
JL
Reply to  Job seeker
1 year ago

Pretty sure it said “balance” up there. It’s not like candidates are the *only* people who matter in this process. Though obviously they do (too).Report

Job seeker
Job seeker
Reply to  JL
1 year ago

Pretty sure my complaint applies to the claim that this would improve the “balance”. Suggestion: If you want to improve things, don’t spend time thinking about how to improve them for the people who are most well off. Perhaps philosophy job seekers aren’t the people to worry about either, maybe you should focus your efforts on helping refugees or something. But focusing on improving the fortune of tenured professors is morally impermissible and blameworthy. Do something else.Report

Ken Friedman
Ken Friedman
1 year ago

I’ve never heard of any university charging an application fee for any position, ever.

It’s not simply a matter of the problem this would create for an applicant.

It’s also the case that it is the business of a university to seek applicants. To charge a fee from applicants requires that unsuccessful applicants — people who do not and will not work at the university — fund university services.

This makes no sense at all.

Ken Friedman, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hc), FDRS | Editor-in-Chief | 设计 She Ji. The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation | Published by Tongji University in Cooperation with Elsevier | URL: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/she-ji-the-journal-of-design-economics-and-innovation/

Chair Professor of Design Innovation Studies | College of Design and Innovation | Tongji University | Shanghai, China ||| Eminent Scholar | College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning | University of Cincinnati ||| Email [email protected] | Academia https://tongji.academia.edu/KenFriedman | D&I http://tjdi.tongji.edu.cnReport

Kenny Easwaran
Reply to  Ken Friedman
1 year ago

I’ve never heard of a university *not* charging an application fee for student admissions (though perhaps at some institutions it’s only at the graduate level or only at the undergraduate level).Report

bcdefg
bcdefg
1 year ago

I don’t know whether this is the case in Italy, but in France you don’t get any travel reimbursement if you get interviewed for a position. Never. Report

Job candidate
Job candidate
Reply to  bcdefg
1 year ago

The situation of academic jobs in France is terrible. For a position at CNRS, they interview more than 70 applicants for two or three positions. There is no option of a Skype interview. And you have to cover your travel expenses to give a 10-12 minute job talk. Your talk and your application materials are evaluated by a group of 20 people, with the majority of them being either non-philosophers or continental philosophers who hate analytic philosophy.Report

Roberta Astolfi
Roberta Astolfi
1 year ago

Also remarkable that the (burocratic) terms of this application are almost incomprensible for someone who is not Italian. Personally -and I am an Italian young researcher working abroad – I find this way more disturbing than the fee, which is of course also questionable.Report

Grad Student4
Grad Student4
1 year ago

I’m not sure how outrageous this is compared to other applications. Time is money. Some applications require an immense amout of time to fill out, which is in an important sense the equivalent of a cash fee.Report

Ed
Ed
Reply to  Grad Student4
1 year ago

If I had the option to fill out a web form or pay $28 when applying for jobs, I would have paid the money. Filling out those damn webforms is painful.
Report

M
M
Reply to  Ed
1 year ago

I hope that we are not going to defend this practice by pointing out that there are things even less desirable than having to make a cash payment that are sometimes involved in applying for a job.Report

Ed
Ed
Reply to  M
1 year ago

You’re in luck, M. It was a complaint about web forms, not a celebration of application fees.Report

Alfred MacDonald
Alfred MacDonald
Reply to  Ed
1 year ago

dealing with shitty web forms is standard for the overwhelming majority of jobs that exist. while frustrating, everyone has to deal with them – this is not the case with application fees, thus the dispute. Report

Nicole
Nicole
Reply to  Grad Student4
1 year ago

It’s not like the professors slogging through the pile of applications are the ones being reimbursed by these fees. Report

Job seeker
Job seeker
Reply to  Grad Student4
1 year ago

This is fair, but job-seekers aren’t all in similar monetary straits. Some job-seekers would happily value their time at $25/hour and see a $50 fee as equivalent to 2-hours of extra work on specialized documents. Some are struggling to buy toilet paper and would rather do the work. If we impose monetary costs, we favor those who are able to place a high monetary on their time. And the rich get richer.

That said, I’d second the idea that monetary demands are not the only outrageous demand that needs to be contended with. Demands on time matter too. Report

M.
M.
1 year ago

Hi,
In line with Esa Díaz Leon’s comment, I have to say that paying a fee is compulsory in most Spanish public universities. The price range goes from 25 to 70 euro aproximately depending on the university. Yes, you have to pay for asking for a job, it is that sad. Besides that, every university has its own CV format and you have to adapt your CV to it in order to be eligible. Even worse: depending on the university, either you have to send at least one hard copy of all the items you have in your CV (such as university degrees, papers, certificates of attendance to talks, workshops, congresses, etc.) or make a PDF copy of all of them and send them in a CD or pendrive. Report

gradstudent
gradstudent
1 year ago

I mean if we complain about a $28 dollar fee for applying for a job, can we then also talk about how Graduate School Applications are between $70-150, and most importantly: why international applications have to pay more (up to another $50)?
I don’t mean it in the sense of Whataboutism, but rather: if we talk about having to pay fee for applying, we should maybe look at the cases where the fee is relatively high for the people that apply ($100 dollar per application is a lot for grad school applicants) and actively hurt applicants from minorities. Report

Alfred MacDonald
Alfred MacDonald
Reply to  gradstudent
1 year ago

yeah, I don’t think this is whataboutism. it’s directly relevant to the topic of nurturing future philosophers. and I agree — the application fees for grad school are ludicrous relative to (a) the money you make, or don’t, at time of application and (b) your expected pay post-graduationReport

G.
G.
1 year ago

Like EVERY application for a position in public universities in Brazil. Report

Richard E. Hennessey
Richard E. Hennessey
1 year ago

I’m thinking of applying, though only if they agree to pay a €51.64 charge for reading my application.Report

Chris Surprenant
1 year ago

I’ll echo the others where I don’t think having application fees are a bad thing. When I went on the market, I applied to 108 positions, many of which I probably wouldn’t have taken unless it was my only option (and, as it turned out, my wife and I decided we’d be better off with me adjuncting and her being the breadwinner than almost all of those 108 options). If I would have had to pay to apply, I wouldn’t have submitted many of those applications. Maybe I’m blameworthy for submitting them in the first place given the low chance that I would have actually taken the position, but the current job market encourages that sort of behavior. Perhaps if the department/school didn’t keep the money, it’d eliminate the bad incentives on that side–I’m not sure. Either way, I don’t think this is a horrible idea.Report

Patrick Lin
1 year ago

As other folks have pointed out, this doesn’t seem worse than the practice of charging for university admissions applications. It can be reasonable to want to reduce the number of applications to process, even if it disproportionately hurts poorer applicants. Unclear what a better way might be to manage the volume of applicants…

Also, in the US at least, many/most universities already require a federal background check, which involves going to a police department for fingerprinting that you (the job applicant) pays for, and that fee is around $25 in my part of California. So it might not be as unusual as it’d seem for job seekers to incur some costs in the application process itself, nevermind other related expenses (e.g., new clothes, official transcripts, etc.).

But this practice could be problematic if the reason for the application fee is to make money (esp. by exploiting a fairly desperate population), as opposed to recouping costs in processing applications. So, I think we need to know more about the motivation for this…Report

Nicole
Nicole
Reply to  Patrick Lin
1 year ago

To my best knowledge fingerprinting is a one-time deal. Your file can be forwarded (for free!) between institutions.

And, in some state schools, I believe I heard the unions pushed for the people in question to be reimbursed. (Don’t quote me on that though.)Report

Alfred MacDonald
Alfred MacDonald
1 year ago

real talk though, if I could ensure that an employer would give my application much more time and attention by paying them a fee I’d gladly do that. not just talking about philosophy here — there are many areas of employment with staggeringly indifferent review processes.Report

Jonathan Gingerich
1 year ago

California Labor Code 450 prohibits employers from charging job application fees. I suspect that universities that charge a job application fees are unlikely to be able to advertise their jobs in a manner that appears to solicit applications from California, including by advertising jobs on job boards with a national reach such as PhilJobs, without exposing themselves to liability. Report

The Doctor
The Doctor
1 year ago

I invite people to, just for a moment, imagine that you are graduate student who has been making $20K (or likely, significantly less than that) for a few years. Further imagine that you do not come from a wealthy family, so that you already pay all of your own expenses, and now, must also pay for these application fees out of your own pocket. You are finishing your PhD, and you are going on the market for the first time. You don’t yet really understand what schools are looking for–you have yet to decode the subtle hints and clues of job ads–and thus have little idea for which schools you will be competitive. People are advising you to apply widely–to take chances. Who knows? You might be *exactly* what a school is looking for, even if the job ad does not seem to suggest that, they say. However, because all these schools are charging fees, you have to make tough choices. Do you spend hundreds of dollars to apply widely–and perhaps, cut back on necessities? Or do you apply less widely and make difficult choices and uninformed guesses about where your application might be taken seriously?

Now, think of how it would feel to watch other graduate students in your program, those from wealthier families, apply everywhere and still have money to eat (and maybe even to enjoy luxuries like nights out for drinks or going to the movies every once in awhile). Seeing that, you might think that Philosophy is not meant for people like you. It is for those who have money.

We cannot bemoan the absence of diversity in philosophy at the same time as we institute more and more policies and behaviors that signal to people from the lower classes that they are not welcome here. We cannot happily take their tuition money as undergraduates, then profit off their cheap labor as graduate students, only to tell them, as they first aspire to make money off philosophy, that they really should look elsewhere for a profession.Report

Living the non-ac life
Living the non-ac life
Reply to  The Doctor
1 year ago

As someone from a lower-middle class family living in a rural area who graduated from a non-elite graduate program, published a ton, didn’t get a TT job, and ultimately left the field, I second this. That said, if economic stability is a concern, it’s probably better to leave the field than accept a TT job during such an unstable time for higher ed. (The way I see it, only jobs at R1 schools and elite SLACSs are truly stable, and those who aren’t already in elite circles are, for the most part, not seriously in the running for these jobs in the first place.)Report

Sam Duncan
Sam Duncan
1 year ago

I really can’t believe anyone would defend this. How much effort is it really to scan and cull applications to a usable number? My bet is that it takes less than a minute or so per CV to make a pretty substantial first cut and hardly much longer with cover letters to do a substantial second cut. If people don’t satisfy the AOS or AOC all one really needs to do is scan what they put as both and check that against the dissertation abstract, publications, and classes taught. That is not much effort at all and it’s unconscionable that the better off members of our profession would try to spare themselves that effort by bleeding those below them in the academic caste system. If you have a tenure track job wading through job applications is just part of what you have to do to at least make some pretense to earning your higher wages, benefits, and other perks. And let’s not forget at some schools you get course release for being on a hiring committee and at practically all it counts toward service and committee requirements. The laziness and entitlement of tenure track professors defending a fee on the grounds it makes their lives easier is ludicrous and obscene. Someone’s gonna have to eat some {} here that’s just the state of things. Should it be the person teaching 2/2 or 3/3 earning $60,000+ a year or the adjuncts and grad students applying who earn half that but have equal or greater workloads? This is not a complicated moral question.
But I think we really ought to widen our focus here. I doubt there’s any real difference in intention between asking for an application fee and asking for idiosyncratic application materials like diversity statements or absurd requests like sending all the letters of recommendations in when one first applies. (Before anyone gets the wrong idea I very much support asking candidates to address how they’ll meet the learning needs of a diverse student body in the cover letter. It’s coming up with an entirely new document I object to). I very much suspect the intention with this sort of thing is to put in place a cost to deter applicants no matter what one might say. Coming up with weird materials for one or two ads requires a significant investment of time with very little likelihood of a payoff. And asking for recommendations at the time of application is pretty much the same as just asking them to pay a fee given interfolio’s absurd prices. In a sane decent world no job would ever ask candidates for more than a CV (with a dissertation abstract and list of references) and a cover letter in the first round. That’s enough to whittle down things to a manageable number from whom to get more extensive materials.Report

SC
SC
1 year ago

It wasn’t that long ago (2 or 3 years ago) that Interfolio charged per letter when the university HR departments required electronic requests be sent for individual letters. I think it was $6 per letter at the time, which, at three letters, came out to around $18 or $20 for one application. I estimate that I spent around $1000 or so on Interfolio over the course of three years on the serious job market. So this isn’t that much of an outlier for people who have been on the market in the last few years.Report

Italian associate professor who left Italy after the MA
Italian associate professor who left Italy after the MA
1 year ago

You are not only charged a fee for the application. You also have to travel at your own expenses for your interview. But this is ok, since in Italy you apply for one job only, the one you know you’ll be getting as the internal candidate. (sarcasm mode: on)Report