LONDON—Stephen Maim, an upand-coming young chemist at England’s Bath University, was delighted recently by his unusual promotion from junior lecturer directly to reader—a move that, is the United States, would be like rising overnight from instructor to associate professor. But his new status—just one rung below full professor—and the pay raise that accompanied it came with a big snag.

As a junior lecturer, Mann had had tenure; universities in the U.K. normally award it to all full-time instructors after a three-year probation. But when he accepted the promotion, he lost his job security, since Bath University has already adopted a new policy that is soon expected to become law: Schools will no longer grant tenure, and academics who already have it will lose their job security if they move between pay scales or transfer to another institution.

This provision forms the central plank of the government’s Education Reform Bill, a...

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