In 2005, the European Commission published the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (hereinafter: the Charter). The Charter contains a number of recommendations relating to the rights and responsibilities of researchers, as well as to those of their employers and/or funders.
The European Commission offers support to research institutions in the development and application of the Charter and the Code through a project entitled HR Strategy for Researchers. Institutes that are able to demonstrate that they follow HR policies that seek to conform to the Charter receive a logo of HR Excellence in Research. The University of Antwerp started the project in 2011.
Based on the input of researchers, academic leaders and other stakeholders, a gap analysis was made: how is the University of Antwerp doing it now? Not bad, it turned out. Through the expanded competency-based human resources policies – which include a revised procedure for recruitment and selection, a new statute for tenured academic personnel, an adapted training and education policy and initiatives in the field of internationalization and guidance of junior researchers – we had already proved our correspondence to many of the principles from the Charter.
A portion of the work had thus already been completed. The remaining tasks involved supporting the rest of the principles with planned actions. Therefore an action plan has been developed, framing and categorizing existing initiatives properly, supplementing them with new emphases where necessary and integrating them into a global plan that was consulted by the involved target groups and corresponds to existing policies within the university’s core businesses of education, research and services to society.
These efforts of the University of Antwerp were rewarded in 2013 by the European Commission with the logo of HR Excellence in Research. In her evaluation the Commission praised the impressive set of measures in the action plan and called the case of the University of Antwerp very good example of an excellent process to lead to the continuous improvement of the HR policy for researchers.
In 2015, two years after receiving the logo, the action plan was formally evaluated by means of a self-assessment procedure, resulting in an updated action plan. Although not all of the planned initiatives are fully implemented as yet, the University of Antwerp is working hard to implement all of them in view of putting the ‘HR excellence in research’ logo into practice and fully caring for qualitative researchers’ careers.
The University of Antwerp is a family friendly organization, with a focus on equal opportunities and diversity. Our HR-policy for researchers was awarded by the European Commission with the quality label 'HR Excellence in research'.