European recognition for research career policy uhasselt Jun 12, 2019
dr. Nele NIVELLE
In 2011, UHasselt was one of the first Flemish universities to receive the quality label ‘HR Excellence in Research’ from the European Commission, which was recently renewed in 2019. “It’s great to get recognition for the policies we pursue with regard to research careers”, Cathy Devos and Nele Nivelle tell us.
ENSURING A QUALITATIVE RESEARCH CAREER
“Opportunities don’t happen, you create them” – Chris Grosser.
“For this evaluation, the European union focusses on 4 major themes: recruitment, training, optimization of working conditions and a professional as well as ethical environment to work in. By doing this, they can look at the quality of research careers from a wide field of view”, dr. Nele Nivelle (head of the Ph.D. department) explains.
“When you want to support scientists at every step of their career and take into account these things, a lot of different departments have to work together efficiently. These new policies are the result of an efficient collaboration between the departments of the rectorate, research coordination, and personnel & organization”, Cathy Devos (responsible for recruitment, selection and career guidance) tells us.
A PLAN OF ACTION
It was back in 2011 and 2017 that UHasselt created a plan of action. The university compared its current policy to the 40 points from the European Charter and Code. What went well? What needed further improvement? This was carefully mapped out. “Together with our researchers we made a list of priorities”, Nele emphasizes. “If it wasn’t for their input and dedication, we would have never been able to shape our career policies. Something that was really appreciated by us.”
“Within the department of research coordination, we focused on founding the ‘doctoral schools’. Within Europe, such a structured training process became increasingly important for young researchers. So it was something we wanted to focus our attention on. Not every Ph.D. student becomes a professor, so it’s important to prepare him or her for other career opportunities during this period. The three doctoral schools that were created are doing exactly this through a well-established training process and exciting development opportunities.”
“Europe attaches great value to an Open, Transparent and Merit-based Recruitment (OTM-R) system. How can we translate these principles to our HR-policy at UHasselt? That is something that our department has worked hard on”, Cathy explains. “In order to achieve this, we rolled out a lot of practices. For example, we developed an online recruitment tool where all the information about a new job opening would be available, for applicants, also in English. We also ensured that everything was streamlined internally. By doing this, we want to provide opportunities to international researchers. Due to the fact that all the faculties and departments now use one central tool, we can offer a more qualitative and efficient recruitment and selection process as well as better support when it comes to implementing the OTM-R principles. In addition to this, we provide custom-made training and advice.”
“This evaluation round is certainly not an endpoint. Having a well-functioning HR program for researchers is a continuous process that requires constant optimization. But we are really grateful for being awarded this quality label by the commission. This gives us a lot of positive energy and the motivation to keep going forward.”