HR Excellence in Research
What is HR Excellence in Research?
In 2005 the European Commission (EC) launched the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (known also as Charter&Code) which set out principles for good working conditions for researchers (in the Slovak context it means university teachers and researchers).
The European Commission later introduced The Human Resources Strategy for Researchers (also known as HRS4R). It is as a voluntary mechanism through which the EC tries to ensure that concrete steps are put in place by institutions to enhance working conditions for researchers across Europe as set out in the European Charter&Code. The strategy encompasses a 5 step implementation process for gaining EC recognition for commitment to implementation of the European Charter and Code principles, known as the 'HR Excellence in Research' Award:
- Internal Gap Analysis (the institution conducts an internal analysis of its HR processes and practices)
- Creation of the Strategy and Action Plan (the institution publishes an Action Plan for implementing a strategy to adopt the principles of the Charter&Code)
- Review of the Gap Analysis and the Action Plan by the European Commission: if the action plan is acknowledged by the EC, the institution can use the 'HR Excellence in Research' logo
- Self-assessment of the progress in the implementation of the action plan within two years (the institution carries out self-assessment every two years and updates its Action Plan
- External evaluation by the EC takes place every four years.
How did the UMB start?
In January 2017 two representatives of Matej Bel University (Vice-Rector for Research Alexandra Bitušíková and UMB Research Coordinator Kamila Borseková) participated in a workshop, organised by the European Commission – DG RTD B2 in Brno, Czech Republic. The workshop´s aim was to inform research performing organisations – potential H2020 project applicants or beneficiaries about the structured implementation of the Charter&Code (C&C) principles via the Human Resources Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R) as recommended in article 32 of each H2020 grant agreement.
The day of the workshop has become the first day of the preparation for the implementation of the C&C via HRS4R at Matej Bel University. After informing the Rector and the management of the university about the opportunity to improve university teachers´ and researchers´ working conditions and career development through a tool of the HRS4R, the decision was made to start the process and attempt to gain the EU acknowledgement ´HR Excellence in Research.´
What did we do?
- Steering Committee (SC) was established as a decision making body responsible for decisions related to the Gap Analysis and the Action Plan preparation. SC is responsible for an efficient and smooth implementation of the Action Plan in coherence with internal procedures, rules and directives. Members of the SC: Rector, Vice-Rector for Research, Coordinator of Research, Head of Department of Internal Quality, Head of University Centre for International Projects, Chairman of the Ethics Committee, Chairman of Academic Senate of UMB, Chairwoman of Trade Unions, Human Resources Department representative, Assistant of Vice-Rector for Research. The SC met on 15 March 2017, further communication was done regularly via email. The role of the SC will strengthen once the university gains the ´HR Excellence in Research´ logo.
- Monitoring Committee (MC) was established as an executive body responsible for overall preparation of the Gap Analysis and the Action Plan, coordinating and monitoring the process and Faculty Working Groups. MC had 2 meetings (28. 3. 2017, 14. 9. 2017). Members: Vice-Rector for Research, Coordinator of Research, Vice Deans for Research of all six faculties, Head of the University Centre for International Projects, HR Department representative and students´ representative.
- Each of six faculties established a Faculty Working Group (FWG) responsible for preparation of the Faculty Gap Analysis. FWGs are led by Vice-Deans for Research. Other members include junior and senior representatives of researchers, HR department, research support staff and doctoral students. Information about the HRS4R was also given to academic and research staff at academic fora of each faculty.
- In addition, each university teacher and researcher (including doctoral candidates) had an opportunity to fill in the GAP analysis questions translated into Slovak language via internal IT system. 81 questionnaires were filled out.
- Finally, all faculty gap analysis questions were merged and harmonised - voices of all Committees, WGs and individuals were taken into consideration in the preparation of the final version of the Gap Analysis and the Action Plan.
The final version of the Gap Analysis and the Action Plan was sent to the European Commission for review on 22 November 2017. On the 5th of December 2018, Matej Bel University was informed by the European Commission that the university met all the requirements and was granted the ‘HR Excellence in research’ award.
On the 5th of December 2018, Matej Bel University was granted the ‘HR Excellence in research’ award as the first Slovak institution.