If there is one thing I wished more of my fellow academic peers would understand when working with industry, it is this: You should
Price for value created, not for costs incurred.
Many professors, when asked about the price of some proposed work, will calculate the direct labor costs needed for the project, add some university overhead or other margin, and then quote the industry partner the resulting costs as the project’s price.
There are lots of infographics on the web of how a professor spends their time, and they mostly miss the point. At the core, and after ten years of living it, I feel confident to say that it really is three roles that a professor in Germany has to play to be successful. I also have to say that it is pretty hard to be good at all three of them. These roles are:
Any non-trivial university has a legal department, often several (at least one for matters of teaching and one for matters of fundraising). The legal department concerned with teaching has to protect the university from lawsuits by students. By extension, this department protects students from professors who ask too much of them. Often, there may be good reasons for this. Sometimes it gets in the way of effective teaching.
I received five somewhat random review requests this morning, from the same journal, suggesting to me that the editor finds it hard to acquire reviewers for submissions. I pity the editor and feel bad for them (but they really should stop working for Elsevier). In any case, I five times essentially provided the same response, which is:
Germany is the best place I know to be a professor if you value your independence. Your rights have been codified in the German Basic Law (Constitution) and no dean can tell you what to do. You are your own person.
On the downside, German professors and universities have been (for the most part) blissfully ignorant of how the rest of the world evaluates universities. Common sentiments in computer science are that “Journal publications are for wimps, real researchers publish in the leading conferences” and “University evaluations? Those are all fraudulent, focusing on crappy criteria that have no connection with reality”.
Some of these critiques are proper. For example, almost all German universities are public universites and many have a unique and positive symbiosis with industry, fueling Germany’s economic growth—where is that being accounted for in these rankings? But for the most part, Germany’s hesitance to join the international ranking game has been harmful.