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Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel

11 November 1997


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The General Conference
of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), meeting in Paris from 21 October to 12 November 1997, at its 29th session, Conscious of the responsibility of states for the provision of education for all in fulfilment of Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948),

Recalling in particular the responsibility of the states for the provision of higher education in fulfilment of Article 13, paragraph 1(c), of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966),

Conscious that higher education and research are instrumental in the pursuit, advancement and transfer of knowledge and constitute an exceptionally rich cultural and scientific asset,

Also conscious that governments and important social groups, such as students, industry and labour, are vitally interested in and benefit from the services and outputs of the higher education systems,

Recognizing the decisive role of higher education teaching personnel in the advancement of higher education, and the importance of their contribution to the development of humanity and modern society,

Convinced that higher-education teaching personnel, like all other citizens, are expected to endeavour to enhance the observance in society of the cultural, economic, social, civil and political rights of all peoples,

Aware of the need to reshape higher education to meet social and economic changes and for higher education teaching personnel to participate in this process,

Expressing concern regarding the vulnerability of the academic community to untoward political pressures which could undermine academic freedom,

Considering that the right to education, teaching and research can only be fully enjoyed in an atmosphere of academic freedom and autonomy for institutions of higher education and that the open communication of findings, hypotheses and opinions lies at the very heart of higher education and provides the strongest guarantee of the accuracy and objectivity of scholarship and research,

Concerned to ensure that higher-education teaching personnel enjoy the status commensurate with this role, Recognizing the diversity of cultures in the world,

Taking into account the great diversity of the laws, regulations, practices and traditions which, in different countries, determine the patterns and organization of higher education,

Mindful of the diversity of arrangements which apply to higher-education teaching personnel in different countries, in particular according to whether the regulations concerning the public service apply to them,

Convinced nevertheless that similar questions arise in all countries with regard to the status of higher education teaching personnel and that these questions call for the adoption of common approaches and so far as practicable the application of common standards which it is the purpose of this Recommendation to set out,

Bearing in mind such instruments as the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960), which recognizes that UNESCO has a duty not only to proscribe any form of discrimination in education, but also to promote equality of opportunity and treatment for all in education at all levels, including the conditions under which it is given, as well as the Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers (1966) and the UNESCO Recommendation on the Status of Scientific Researchers (1974), as well as the instruments of the International Labour Organization on freedom of association and the right to organize and to collective bargaining and on equality of opportunity and treatment,

Desiring to complement existing conventions, covenants and recommendations contained in international standards set out in the appendix with provisions relating to problems of particular concern to higher education institutions and their teaching and research personnel,

Adopts the present Recommendation on 11 November 1997

I. Definitions

1. For the purpose of this Recommendation:

(a) ‘higher education’ means programmes of study, training or training for research at the post-secondary level provided by universities or other educational establishments that are approved as institutions of higher education by the competent state authorities, and/or through recognized accreditation systems;

(b) ‘research’, within the context of higher education, means original scientific, technological and engineering, medical, cultural, social and human science or educational research which implies careful, critical, disciplined inquiry, varying in technique and method according to the nature and conditions of the problems identified, directed towards the clarification and/or resolution of the problems, and when within an institutional framework, supported by an appropriate infrastructure;

(c) ‘scholarship’ means the processes by which higher-education teaching personnel keep up to date with their subject, engage in scholarly editing, disseminate their work and improve their pedagogical skills as teachers in their discipline and upgrade their academic credentials;

(d) ‘extension work’ means a service by which the resources of an educational institution are extended beyond its confines to serve a widely diversified community within the state or region regarded as the constituent area of the institution, so long as this work does not contradict the mission of the institution. In teaching it may include a wide range of activities such as extramural, lifelong and distance education delivered through evening classes, short courses, seminars and institutes. In research it may lead to the provision of expertise to the public, private and non-profit sectors, various types of consultation, and participation in applied research and in implementing research results;

(e) ‘institutions of higher education’ means universities, other educational establishments, centres and structures of higher education, and centres of research and culture associated with any of the above, public or private, that are approved as such either through recognized accreditation systems or by the competent state authorities;

(f) ‘higher-education teaching personnel’ means all those persons in institutions or programmes of higher education who are engaged to teach and/or to undertake scholarship and/or to undertake research and/or to provide educational services to students or to the community at large.

II. Scope

2.This Recommendation applies to all higher education teaching personnel.

III. Guiding principles

3. The global objectives of international peace, understanding, co-operation and sustainable development pursued by each Member State and by the United Nations require, inter alia, education for peace and in the culture of peace, as defined by UNESCO, as well as qualified and cultivated graduates of higher education institutions, capable of serving the community as responsible citizens and undertaking effective scholarship and advanced research and, as a consequence, a corps of talented and highly qualified higher-education teaching personnel.

4. Institutions of higher education, and more particularly universities, are communities of scholars preserving, disseminating and expressing freely their opinions on traditional knowledge and culture, and pursuing new knowledge without constriction by prescribed doctrines. The pursuit of new knowledge and its application lie at the heart of the mandate of such institutions of higher education. In higher education institutions where original research is not required, higher-education teaching personnel should maintain and develop knowledge of their subject through scholarship and improved pedagogical skills.

5. Advances in higher education, scholarship and research depend largely on infrastructure and resources, both human and material, and on the qualifications and expertise of higher-education teaching personnel as well as on their human, pedagogical and technical qualities, underpinned by academic freedom, professional responsibility, collegiality and institutional autonomy.

6. Teaching in higher education is a profession: it is a form of public service that requires of higher education personnel expert knowledge and specialized skills acquired and maintained through rigorous and lifelong study and research; it also calls for a sense of personal and institutional responsibility for the education and welfare of students and of the community at large and for a commitment to high professional standards in scholarship and research.

7. Working conditions for higher-education teaching personnel should be such as will best promote effective teaching, scholarship, research and extension work and enable higher-education teaching personnel to carry out their professional tasks.

8. Organizations which represent higher-education teaching personnel should be considered and recognized as a force which can contribute greatly to educational advancement and which should, therefore, be involved, together with other stakeholders and interested parties, in the determination of higher education policy.

9. Respect should be shown for the diversity of higher education institution systems in each Member State in accordance with its national laws and practices as well as with international standards.

IV. Educational objectives and policies

10. At all appropriate stages of their national planning in general, and of their planning for higher education in particular, Member States should take all necessary measures to ensure that:

(a) higher education is directed to human development and to the progress of society;

(b) higher education contributes to the achievement of the goals of lifelong learning and to the development of other forms and levels of education;

(c) where public funds are appropriated for higher education institutions, such funds are treated as a public investment, subject to effective public accountability;

(d) the funding of higher education is treated as a form of public investment the returns on which are, for the most part, necessarily long term, subject to government and public priorities;

(e) the justification for public funding is held constantly before public opinion.

11. Higher-education teaching personnel should have access to libraries which have up-to-date collections reflecting diverse sides of an issue, and whose holdings are not subject to censorship or other forms of intellectual interference. They should also have access, without censorship, to international computer systems, satellite programmes and databases required for their teaching, scholarship or research.

12. The publication and dissemination of the research results obtained by higher-education teaching personnel should be encouraged and facilitated with a view to assisting them to acquire the reputation which they merit, as well as with a view to promoting the advancement of science, technology, education and culture generally. To this end, higher-education teaching personnel should be free to publish the results of research and scholarship in books, journals and databases of their own choice and under their own names, provided they are the authors or co-authors of the above scholarly works. The intellectual property of higher-education teaching personnel should benefit from appropriate legal protection, and in particular the protection afforded by national and international copyright law.

13. The interplay of ideas and information among higher-education teaching personnel throughout the world is vital to the healthy development of higher education and research and should be actively promoted. To this end higher-education teaching personnel should be enabled throughout their careers to participate in international gatherings on higher education or research, to travel abroad without political restrictions and to use the Internet or video-conferencing for these purposes.

14. Programmes providing for the broadest exchange of higher-education teaching personnel between institutions, both nationally and internationally, including the organization of symposia, seminars and collaborative projects, and the exchange of educational and scholarly information should be developed and encouraged. The extension of communications and direct contacts between universities, research institutions and associations as well as among scientists and research workers should be facilitated, as should access by higher education teaching personnel from other states to open information material in public archives, libraries, research institutes and similar bodies.

15. Member States and higher education institutions should, nevertheless, be conscious of the exodus of higher-education teaching personnel from the developing countries and, in particular, the least developed ones. They should, therefore, encourage aid programmes to the developing countries to help sustain an academic environment which offers satisfactory conditions of work for higher-education teaching personnel in those countries, so that this exodus may be contained and ultimately reversed.

16. Fair, just and reasonable national policies and practices for the recognition of degrees and of credentials for the practice of the higher education profession from other states should be established that are consistent with the UNESCO Recommendation on the Recognition of Studies and Qualifications in Higher Education of 1993.

V. Institutional rights, duties and responsibilities

A. Institutional autonomy

17. The proper enjoyment of academic freedom and compliance with the duties and responsibilities listed below require the autonomy of institutions of higher education. Autonomy is that degree of self-governance necessary for effective decision making by institutions of higher education regarding their academic work, standards, management and related activities consistent with systems of public accountability, especially in respect of funding provided by the state, and respect for academic freedom and human rights. However, the nature of institutional autonomy may differ according to the type of establishment involved.

18. Autonomy is the institutional form of academic freedom and a necessary precondition to guarantee the proper fulfilment of the functions entrusted to higher-education teaching personnel and institutions.

19. Member States are under an obligation to protect higher education institutions from threats to their autonomy coming from any source.

20. Autonomy should not be used by higher education institutions as a pretext to limit the rights of higher-education teaching personnel provided for in this Recommendation or in other international standards set out in the appendix.

21. Self-governance, collegiality and appropriate academic leadership are essential components of meaningful autonomy for institutions of higher education.

B. Institutional accountability

22. In view of the substantial financial investments made, Member States and higher education institutions should ensure a proper balance between the level of autonomy enjoyed by higher education institutions and their systems of accountability. Higher education institutions should endeavour to open their governance in order to be accountable. They should be accountable for:

(a) effective communication to the public concerning the nature of their educational mission;

(b) a commitment to quality and excellence in their teaching, scholarship and research functions, and an obligation to protect and ensure the integrity of their teaching, scholarship and research against intrusions inconsistent with their academic missions;

(c) effective support of academic freedom and fundamental human rights;

(d) ensuring high quality education for as many academically qualified individuals as possible subject to the constraints of the resources available to them;

(e) a commitment to the provision of opportunities for lifelong learning, consistent with the mission of the institution and the resources provided;

(f) ensuring that students are treated fairly and justly, and without discrimination;

(g) adopting policies and procedures to ensure the equitable treatment of women and minorities and to eliminate sexual and racial harassment;

(h) ensuring that higher education personnel are not impeded in their work in the classroom or in their research capacity by violence, intimidation or harassment;

(i) honest and open accounting;

(j) efficient use of resources;

(k) the creation, through the collegial process and/or through negotiation with organizations representing higher-education teaching personnel, consistent with the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech, of statements or codes of ethics to guide higher education personnel in their teaching, scholarship, research and extension work;

(l) assistance in the fulfilment of economic, social, cultural and political rights while striving to prevent the use of knowledge, science and technology to the detriment of those rights, or for purposes which run counter to generally accepted academic ethics, human rights and peace;

(m) ensuring that they address themselves to the contemporary problems facing society; to this end, their curricula, as well as their activities, should respond, where appropriate, to the current and future needs of the local community and of society at large, and they should play an important role in enhancing the labour market opportunities of their graduates;

(n) encouraging, where possible and appropriate, international academic co-operation which transcends national, regional, political, ethnic and other barriers, striving to prevent the scientific and technological exploitation of one state by another, and promoting equal partnership of all the academic communities of the world in the pursuit and use of knowledge and the preservation of cultural heritages;

(o) ensuring up-to-date libraries and access, without censorship, to modern teaching, research and information resources providing information required by higher-education teaching personnel or by students for teaching, scholarship or research;

(p) ensuring the facilities and equipment necessary for the mission of the institution and their proper upkeep;

(q) ensuring that when engaged in classified research it will not contradict the educational mission and objectives of the institutions and will not run counter to the general objectives of peace, human rights, sustainable development and environment.

23. Systems of institutional accountability should be based on a scientific methodology and be clear, realistic, cost-effective and simple. In their operation they should be fair, just and equitable. Both the methodology and the results should be open.

24. Higher education institutions, individually or collectively, should design and implement appropriate systems of accountability, including quality assurance mechanisms to achieve the above goals, without harming institutional autonomy or academic freedom. The organizations representing higher-education teaching personnel should participate, where possible, in the planning of such systems. Where statemandated structures of accountability are established, their procedures should be negotiated, where applicable, with the institutions of higher education concerned and with the organizations representing higher-education teaching personnel.

VI. Rights and freedoms of higher-education teaching personnel

A. Individual rights and freedoms: civil rights, academic freedom, publication rights, and the international exchange of information

25. Access to the higher education academic profession should be based solely on appropriate academic qualifications, competence and experience and be equal for all members of society without any discrimination.

26. Higher-education teaching personnel, like all other groups and individuals, should enjoy those internationally recognized civil, political, social and cultural rights applicable to all citizens. Therefore, all higher-education teaching personnel should enjoy freedom of thought, conscience, religion, expression, assembly and association as well as the right to liberty and security of the person and liberty of movement. They should not be hindered or impeded in exercising their civil rights as citizens, including the right to contribute to social change through freely expressing their opinion of state policies and of policies affecting higher education. They should not suffer any penalties simply because of the exercise of such rights. Higher-education teaching personnel should not be subject to arbitrary arrest or detention, nor to torture, nor to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. In cases of gross violation of their rights, higher-education teaching personnel should have the right to appeal to the relevant national, regional or international bodies such as the agencies of the United Nations, and organizations representing higher-education teaching personnel should extend full support in such cases.

27. The maintaining of the above international standards should be upheld in the interest of higher education internationally and within the country. To do so, the principle of academic freedom should be scrupulously observed. Higher-education teaching personnel are entitled to the maintaining of academic freedom, that is to say, the right, without constriction by prescribed doctrine, to freedom of teaching and discussion, freedom in carrying out research and disseminating and publishing the results thereof, freedom to express freely their opinion about the institution or system in which they work, freedom from institutional censorship and freedom to participate in professional or representative academic bodies. All higher-education teaching personnel should have the right to fulfil their functions without discrimination of any kind and without fear of repression by the state or any other source. Higher-education teaching personnel can effectively do justice to this principle if the environment in which they operate is conducive, which requires a democratic atmosphere; hence the challenge for all of developing a democratic society.

28. Higher-education teaching personnel have the right to teach without any interference, subject to accepted professional principles including professional responsibility and intellectual rigour with regard to standards and methods of teaching. Higher-education teaching personnel should not be forced to instruct against their own best knowledge and conscience or be forced to use curricula and methods contrary to national and international human rights standards. Higher education teaching personnel should play a significant role in determining the curriculum.

29. Higher-education teaching personnel have a right to carry out research work without any interference, or any suppression, in accordance with their professional responsibility and subject to nationally and internationally recognized professional principles of intellectual rigour, scientific inquiry and research ethics. They should also have the right to publish and communicate the conclusions of the research of which they are authors or co-authors, as stated in paragraph 12 of this Recommendation.

30. Higher-education teaching personnel have a right to undertake professional activities outside of their employment, particularly those that enhance their professional skills or allow for the application of knowledge to the problems of the community, provided such activities do not interfere with their primary commitments to their home institutions in accordance with institutional policies and regulations or national laws and practice where they exist.

B. Self-governance and collegiality

31. Higher-education teaching personnel should have the right and opportunity, without discrimination of any kind, according to their abilities, to take part in the governing bodies and to criticize the functioning of higher education institutions, including their own, while respecting the right of other sections of the academic community to participate, and they should also have the right to elect a majority of representatives to academic bodies within the higher education institution.

32. The principles of collegiality include academic freedom, shared responsibility, the policy of participation of all concerned in internal decision making structures and practices, and the development of consultative mechanisms. Collegial decision-making should encompass decisions regarding the administration and determination of policies of higher education, curricula, research, extension work, the allocation of resources and other related activities, in order to improve academic excellence and quality for the benefit of society at large.

VII. Duties and responsibilities of higher education teaching personnel

33. Higher-education teaching personnel should recognize that the exercise of rights carries with it special duties and responsibilities, including the obligation to respect the academic freedom of other members of the academic community and to ensure the fair discussion of contrary views. Academic freedom carries with it the duty to use that freedom in a manner consistent with the scholarly obligation to base research on an honest search for truth. Teaching, research and scholarship should be conducted in full accordance with ethical and professional standards and should, where appropriate, respond to contemporary problems facing society as well as preserve the historical and cultural heritage of the world.

34. In particular, the individual duties of higher education teaching personnel inherent in their academic freedom are:

(a) to teach students effectively within the means provided by the institution and the state, to be fair and equitable to male and female students and treat those of all races and religions, as well as those with disabilities, equally, to encourage the free exchange of ideas between themselves and their students, and to be available to them for guidance in their studies. Higher-education teaching personnel should ensure, where necessary, that the minimum content defined in the syllabus for each subject is covered;

(b) to conduct scholarly research and to disseminate the results of such research or, where original research is not required, to maintain and develop their knowledge of their subject through study and research, and through the development of teaching methodology to improve their pedagogical skills;

(c) to base their research and scholarship on an honest search for knowledge with due respect for evidence, impartial reasoning and honesty in reporting;

(d) to observe the ethics of research involving humans, animals, the heritage or the environment;

(e) to respect and to acknowledge the scholarly work of academic colleagues and students and, in particular, to ensure that authorship of published works includes all who have materially contributed to, and share responsibility for, the contents of a publication;

(f) to refrain from using new information, concepts or data that were originally obtained as a result of access to confidential manuscripts or applications for funds for research or training that may have been seen as the result of processes such as peer review, unless the author has given permission;

(g) to ensure that research is conducted according to the laws and regulations of the state in which the research is carried out, that it does not violate international codes of human rights, and that the results of the research and the data on which it is based are effectively made available to scholars and researchers in the host institution, except where this might place respondents in peril or where anonymity has been guaranteed;

(h) to avoid conflicts of interest and to resolve them through appropriate disclosure and full consultation with the higher education institution employing them, so that they have the approval of the aforesaid institution;

(i) to handle honestly all funds entrusted to their care for higher education institutions for research or for other professional or scientific bodies;

(j) to be fair and impartial when presenting a professional appraisal of academic colleagues and students;

(k) to be conscious of a responsibility, when speaking or writing outside scholarly channels on matters which are not related to their professional expertise, to avoid misleading the public on the nature of their professional expertise;

(l) to undertake such appropriate duties as are required for the collegial governance of institutions of higher education and of professional bodies.

35. Higher-education teaching personnel should seek to achieve the highest possible standards in their professional work, since their status largely depends on themselves and the quality of their achievements.

36. Higher-education teaching personnel should contribute to the public accountability of higher education institutions without, however, forfeiting the degree of institutional autonomy necessary for their work, for their professional freedom and for the advancement of knowledge.

VIII. Preparation for the profession

37. Policies governing access to preparation for a career in higher education rest on the need to provide society with an adequate supply of higher-education teaching personnel who possess the necessary ethical, intellectual and teaching qualities and who have the required professional knowledge and skills.

38. All aspects of the preparation of higher-education teaching personnel should be free from any form of discrimination.

39. Amongst candidates seeking to prepare for a career in higher education, women and members of minorities with equal academic qualifications and experience should be given equal opportunities and treatment.

IX. Terms and conditions of employment

A. Entry into the academic profession

40. The employers of higher-education teaching personnel should establish such terms and conditions of employment as will be most conducive for effective teaching and/or research and/or scholarship and/or extension work and will be fair and free from discrimination of any kind.

41. Temporary measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality for disadvantaged members of the academic community should not be considered discriminatory, provided that these measures are discontinued when the objectives of equality of opportunity and treatment have been achieved and systems are in place to ensure the continuance of equality of opportunity and treatment.

42. A probationary period on initial entry to teaching and research in higher education is recognized as the opportunity for the encouragement and helpful initiation of the entrant and for the establishment and maintenance of proper professional standards, as well as for the individual’s own development of his/her teaching and research proficiency. The normal duration of probation should be known in advance and the conditions for its satisfactory completion should be strictly related to professional competence. If such candidates fail to complete their probation satisfactorily, they should have the right to know the reasons and to receive this information sufficiently in advance of the end of the probationary period to give them a reasonable opportunity to improve their performance. They should also have the right to appeal.

43. Higher-education teaching personnel should enjoy:

(a) a just and open system of career development including fair procedures for appointment, tenure where applicable, promotion, dismissal, and other related matters;

(b) an effective, fair and just system of labour relations within the institution, consistent with the international standards set out in the appendix.

44. There should be provisions to allow for solidarity with other institutions of higher education and with their higher-education teaching personnel when they are subject to persecution. Such solidarity may be material as well as moral and should, where possible, include refuge and employment or education for victims of persecution.

B.Security of employment

45. Tenure or its functional equivalent, where applicable, constitutes one of the major procedural safeguards of academic freedom and against arbitrary decisions. It also encourages individual responsibility and the retention of talented higher-education teaching personnel.

46. Security of employment in the profession, including tenure or its functional equivalent, where applicable, should be safeguarded as it is essential to the interests of higher education as well as those of higher-education teaching personnel. It ensures that higher-education teaching personnel who secure continuing employment following rigorous evaluation can only be dismissed on professional grounds and in accordance with due process. They may also be released for bona fide financial reasons, provided that all the financial accounts are open to public inspection, that the institution has taken all reasonable alternative steps to prevent termination of employment, and that there are legal safeguards against bias in any termination of employment procedure. Tenure or its functional equivalent, where applicable, should be safeguarded as far as possible even when changes in the organization of or within a higher education institution or system are made, and should be granted, after a reasonable period of probation, to those who meet stated objective criteria in teaching, and/or scholarship, and/or research to the satisfaction of an academic body, and/or extension work to the satisfaction of the institution of higher education.

C. Appraisal

47. Higher education institutions should ensure that:

(a) evaluation and assessment of the work of higher-education teaching personnel are an integral part of the teaching, learning and research process, and that their major function is the development of individuals in accordance with their interests and capacities;

(b) evaluation is based only on academic criteria of competence in research, teaching and other academic or professional duties as interpreted by academic peers;

(c) evaluation procedures take due account of the difficulty inherent in measuring personal capacity, which seldom manifests itself in a constant and unfluctuating manner;

(d) where evaluation involves any kind of direct assessment of the work of higher-education teaching personnel, by students and/or fellow colleagues and/or administrators, such assessment is objective and the criteria and the results are made known to the individual(s) concerned;

(e) the results of appraisal of higher-education teaching personnel are also taken into account when establishing the staffing of the institution and considering the renewal of employment;

(f) higher-education teaching personnel have the right to appeal to an impartial body against assessments which they deem to be unjustified.

D. Discipline and dismissal

48. No member of the academic community should be subject to discipline, including dismissal, except for just and sufficient cause demonstrable before an independent third-party hearing of peers, and/or before an impartial body such as arbitrators or the courts.

49. All members of higher-education teaching personnel should enjoy equitable safeguards at each stage of any disciplinary procedure, including dismissal, in accordance with the international standards set out in the appendix.

50. Dismissal as a disciplinary measure should only be for just and sufficient cause related to professional conduct, for example: persistent neglect of duties, gross incompetence, fabrication or falsification of research results, serious financial irregularities, sexual or other misconduct with students, colleagues, or other members of the academic community or serious threats thereof, or corruption of the educational process such as by falsifying grades, diplomas or degrees in return for money, sexual or other favours or by demanding sexual, financial or other material favours from subordinate employees or colleagues in return for continuing employment.

51. Individuals should have the right to appeal against the decision to dismiss them before independent, external bodies such as arbitrators or the courts, with final and binding powers.

E. Negotiation of terms and conditions of employment

52. Higher-education teaching personnel should enjoy the right to freedom of association, and this right should be effectively promoted. Collective bargaining or an equivalent procedure should be promoted in accordance with the standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) set out in the appendix.

53. Salaries, working conditions and all matters related to the terms and conditions of employment of higher-education teaching personnel should be determined through a voluntary process of negotiation between organizations representing higher-education teaching personnel and the employers of higher education teaching personnel, except where other equivalent procedures are provided that are consistent with international standards.

54. Appropriate machinery, consistent with national laws and international standards, should be established by statute or by agreement whereby the right of higher-education teaching personnel to negotiate through their organizations with their employers, whether public or private, is assured. Such legal and statutory rights should be enforceable through an impartial process without undue delay.

55. If the process established for these purposes is exhausted or if there is a breakdown in negotiations between the parties, organizations of higher-education teaching personnel should have the right to take such other steps as are normally open to other organizations in the defence of their legitimate interests.

56. Higher-education teaching personnel should have access to a fair grievance and arbitration procedure, or the equivalent, for the settlement of disputes with their employers arising out of terms and conditions of employment.

F. Salaries, workload, social security benefits, health and safety

57. All financially feasible measures should be taken to provide higher-education teaching personnel with remuneration such that they can devote themselves satisfactorily to their duties and allocate the necessary amount of time for the continuing training and periodic renewal of knowledge and skills that are essential at this level of teaching.

58. The salaries of higher-education teaching personnel should:

(a) reflect the importance to society of higher education and hence the importance of higher-education teaching personnel as well as the different responsibilities which fall to them from the time of their entry into the profession;

(b) be at least comparable to salaries paid in other occupations requiring similar or equivalent qualifications;

(c) provide higher-education teaching personnel with the means to ensure a reasonable standard of living for themselves and their families, as well as to invest in further education or in the pursuit of cultural or scientific activities, thus enhancing their professional qualifications;

(d) take account of the fact that certain posts require higher qualifications and experience and carry greater responsibilities;

(e) be paid regularly and on time;

(f) be reviewed periodically to take into account such factors as a rise in the cost of living, increased productivity leading to higher standards of living, or a general upward movement in wage or salary levels.

59. Salary differentials should be based on objective criteria.

60. Higher-education teaching personnel should be paid on the basis of salary scales established in agreement with organizations representing higher-education teaching personnel, except where other equivalent procedures consistent with international standards are provided. During a probationary period or if employed on a temporary basis qualified higher-education teaching personnel should not be paid on a lower scale than that laid down for established higher education teaching personnel at the same level.

61. A fair and impartial merit-rating system could be a means of enhancing quality assurance and quality control. Where introduced and applied for purposes of salary determination it should involve prior consultation with organizations representing higher-education teaching personnel.

62. The workload of higher-education teaching personnel should be fair and equitable, should permit such personnel to carry out effectively their duties and responsibilities to their students as well as their obligations in regard to scholarship, research and/or academic administration, should provide due consideration in terms of salary for those who are required to teach beyond their regular workload, and should be negotiated with the organizations representing higher-education teaching personnel, except where other equivalent procedures consistent with international standards are provided.

63. Higher-education teaching personnel should be provided with a work environment that does not have a negative impact on or affect their health and safety and they should be protected by social security measures, including those concerning sickness and disability and pension entitlements, and measures for the protection of health and safety in respect of all contingencies included in the conventions and recommendations of ILO. The standards should be at least as favourable as those set out in the relevant conventions and recommendations of ILO. Social security benefits for higher-education teaching personnel should be granted as a matter of right.

64. The pension rights earned by higher-education teaching personnel should be transferable nationally and internationally, subject to national, bilateral and multilateral taxation laws and agreements, should the individual transfer to employment with another institution of higher education. Organizations representing higher education teaching personnel should have the right to choose representatives to take part in the governance and administration of pension plans designed for higher-education teaching personnel where applicable, particularly those which are private and contributory.

G. Study and research leave and annual holidays

65. Higher-education teaching personnel should be granted study and research leave, such as sabbatical leave, on full or partial pay, where applicable, at regular intervals.

66. The period of study or research leave should be counted as service for seniority and pension purposes, subject to the provisions of the pension plan.

67. Higher-education teaching personnel should be granted occasional leave with full or partial pay to enable them to participate in professional activities.

68. Leave granted to higher-education teaching personnel within the framework of bilateral and multilateral cultural and scientific exchanges or technical assistance programmes abroad should be considered as service, and their seniority and eligibility for promotion and pension rights in their home institutions should be safeguarded. In addition, special arrangements should be made to cover their extra expenses.

69. Higher-education teaching personnel should enjoy the right to adequate annual vacation with full pay.

H. Terms and conditions of employment of women higher-education teaching personnel

70. All necessary measures should be taken to promote equality of opportunity and treatment of women higher-education teaching personnel in order to ensure, on the basis of equality between men and women, the rights recognized by the international standards set out in the appendix.

I. Terms and conditions of employment of disabled higher-education teaching personnel

71. All necessary measures should be taken to ensure that the standards set with regard to the conditions of work of higher-education teaching personnel who are disabled are, as a minimum, consistent with the relevant provisions of the international standards set out in the appendix.

J. Terms and conditions of employment of part-time higher-education teaching personnel

72. The value of the service provided by qualified part-time higher-education teaching personnel should be recognized. Higher-education teaching personnel employed regularly on a part-time basis should:

(a) receive proportionately the same remuneration as higher-education teaching personnel employed on a full-time basis and enjoy equivalent basic conditions of employment;

(b) benefit from conditions equivalent to those of higher-education teaching personnel employed on a full-time basis as regards holidays with pay, sick leave and maternity leave; the relevant pecuniary entitlements should be determined in proportion to hours of work or earnings;

(c) be entitled to adequate and appropriate social security protection, including, where applicable, coverage under employers’ pension schemes.

X. Utilization and implementation

73. Member States and higher education institutions should take all feasible steps to extend and complement their own action in respect of the status of higher-education teaching personnel by encouraging co-operation with and among all national and international governmental and nongovernmental organizations whose activities fall within the scope and objectives of this Recommendation.

74. Member States and higher education institutions should take all feasible steps to apply the provisions spelled out above to give effect, within their respective territories, to the principles set forth in this Recommendation.

75. The Director-General will prepare a comprehensive report on the world situation with regard to academic freedom and to respect for the human rights of higher-education teaching personnel on the basis of the information supplied by Member States and of any other information supported by reliable evidence which he/she may have gathered by such methods as he/she may deem appropriate.

76. In the case of a higher education institution in the territory of a state not under the direct or indirect authority of that state but under separate and independent authorities, the relevant authorities should transmit the text of this Recommendation to institutions, so that such institutions can put its provisions into practice.

XI. Final provision

77. Where higher-education teaching personnel enjoy a status which is, in certain respects, more favourable than that provided for in this Recommendation, the terms of this Recommendation should not be invoked to diminish the status already recognized.


United Nations

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948;
- Declaration concerning the Promotion among Youth of the Ideals of Peace, Mutual Respect and Understanding between Peoples, 1965;
- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 1965;
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966;
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Protocol thereto, 1966;
- Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subject to Torture and Other Cruel and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 1975;
- Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons, 1975;
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979;
- Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, 1981;
- Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 1984.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

- Convention against Discrimination in Education, 1960, and Protocol thereto, 1962;
- Recommendation against Discrimination in Education, 1960;
- Recommendation on Education for International Understanding and Co-operation and Peace and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 1974;
- Recommendation on the Status of Scientific Researchers, 1974;
- Revised Recommendation concerning Technical and Vocational Education, 1974;
- Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice, 1978;
- Convention on Technical/Vocational Education, 1989;
- Recommendation on the Recognition of Studies and Qualifications in Higher Education, 1993.

International Labour Organization

- Convention No. 87: Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention, 1948;
- Convention No. 95: Protection of Wages Convention, 1949;
- Convention No. 98: Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949;
- Convention No. 100: Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951;
- Convention No. 102: Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952;
- Convention No. 103: Maternity Protection Convention (Revised), 1952;
- Recommendation No. 95: Maternity Protection Recommendation, 1952;
- Convention No. 111: Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958;
- Convention No. 118: Equality of Treatment (Social Security) Convention, 1962;
- Convention No. 121: Employment Injury Benefits Convention, 1964 [Schedule I amended in 1980];
- Convention No. 128: Invalidity, Old-Age and Survivors Benefit Convention, 1967;
- Recommendation No. 131: Invalidity, Old-Age and Survivors Benefit Recommendation, 1967;
- Convention No. 130: Medical Care and Sickness Benefit Convention, 1969;
- Convention No. 132: Holidays with Pay Convention (Revised), 1970;
- Convention No. 135: Workers’ Representatives Convention, 1971;
- Recommendation No. 143: Workers’ Representatives Recommendation, 1971;
- Convention No. 140: Paid Educational Leave Convention, 1974;
- Recommendation No. 148: Paid Educational Leave Recommendation, 1974;
- Convention No. 151: Labour Relations (Public Service Convention), 1978;
- Recommendation No. 159: Labour Relations (Public Service) Recommendation, 1978;
- Recommendation No. 162: Older Workers Recommendation, 1980;
- Convention No. 154: Collective Bargaining Convention, 1981;
- Recommendation No. 163: Collective Bargaining Recommendation, 1981;
- Convention No. 156: Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981;
- Recommendation No. 165: Workers with Family Responsibilities Recommendation, 1981;
- Convention No. 158: Termination of Employment Convention, 1982;
- Convention No. 159: Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention, 1983;
- Recommendation No. 168: Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Recommendation, 1983.


- Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers adopted by the Special Intergovernmental Conference on the Status of Teachers (convened by UNESCO in cooperation with ILO), Paris, 5 October 1966;
- UNESCO, Universal Copyright Convention, 1952, revised 1971;
- World Intellectual Property Organization, Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, Paris Act, 1971, amended in 1979.

Monitoring :

- Recommendation for which monitoring the Executive Board is responsible (more information)

- 199th session of the Executive Board (Spring 2016)- 197th session of the Executive Board (Autumn 2015)- 192nd session of the Executive Board (Autumn 2013)- 190th session of the Executive Board (Autumn 2012)- Previous report (2010)


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