80% of PhD holders dissatisfied with recruitment process

The majority of PhD holders in Morocco do not trust the processes universities follow for the recruitment of assistant professors due to suspicions that unethical employment practices such as political affiliation, nepotism and bribery contribute to appointments.

This was one of the outcomes of a survey conducted by the Social and Media Studies Institute in Morocco, published in November.

The Moroccan government annually allocates a budget for the appointment of qualified researchers from PhD holders to carry out the tasks of teaching and scientific supervision at various Moroccan universities, institutes and schools.

The survey was aimed at measuring the opinion of PhD holders and professors about the university recruitment system, which should be based on competence and merit criteria, as prescribed by Morocco’s Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation, and which candidates are evaluated on during oral interviews.

The questions in the survey were formulated after a series of interviews with higher education actors, including students, PhD graduates, administrators and university professors. The questionnaire was sent to 1,400 PhD holders, of which 360 persons (80% male and 20% female) responded.

The survey included 14 Moroccan universities, and the highest response rates came from Sidi Mohamed bin Abdellah University (19.7%), Ibn Zohr University (16.9%), Abdelmalek Essaadi University (13.1%), Hassan II University (11.75%) and Chouaib Doukkali University (10.3%).

Respondents represented the sciences (28.1%), law (26.4%), economy (21.7%), literature (20.6%) and religious studies (3.3%).

Lack of trust in hiring system

While 80% of PhD holders do not trust the current mechanisms to recruit assistant professors into the higher education sector, 15% said they “somewhat” trusted it, and only 5% expressed faith in the recruitment process.

In total, 80% of PhD holders indicated that the existence of several unethical practices is the main reason behind their lack of trust including, among other things, political affiliation (86%), bribery (68.3%), relationship, affinity, and family relations (48.8%).

In addition, more than 73% of the respondents said that the official criteria for recruiting professors were not followed this year, with only 5% saying the criteria were respected, and 20% saying they did not know.

A total of 76.7% of PhD holders indicated that scientific credit, obtained through publications and articles published in refereed scientific journals, as well as international experience through affiliation with international research groups or laboratories, and the mastery of foreign languages, had not been respected.

More than 88% of those who obtained their PhDs in the past year said they had not had a chance to go through the oral recruitment interview, with only 3% saying that they had two interviews.

On the question, “If you are not a university professor, what degree of hope do you have for getting a university professor position?”, a total of 78.3%, 13.3% and 8.3% of respondents said they had “average, “great” and “no hope” respectively.

Suggested ways of becoming a university professor

When asked what could help PhDs to become university professors, the respondents offered various strategies.

• 75.2% of respondents said writing and publishing more reports and scientific books, attending scientific events and contributing to the supervision of students;

• 65% of respondents said immigration;

• 53.3% said protests to change the selection method, apply strict criteria and ensure equal opportunities in competitions;

• 60% indicated protests for direct integration into higher education because of the inequality of opportunity in competitions;

• 61% said resorting to the judiciary to challenge the results of appointments; and

• 1.9% of respondents said they would look for mediation to enable them to become employed.

Suggested changes

Some 93.3% of respondents said they would prefer to receive detailed information about candidates’ publication history in the future, and for information about their academic activities to be made available, resulting in a more transparent process. Only 6.7% of respondents said they would not like this idea as it could “create controversy”.

At least 85% of respondents preferred to have a central national recruitment system instead of a university-level system.

The respondents also highlighted concerns about the brain drain problem that Morocco has been suffering from and which has been reported on in various studies about the topic of migration.