The European framework for research
In 2000, the European Research Area (ERA) was established by the EU to strengthen the competitiveness of European institutions through closer research collaboration and better coordination of research infrastructure.
The Lisbon Treaty of 2007 underlines the EU's focus on "strengthening its scientific and technological base by achieving a European research area where researchers, scientific knowledge and technology circulate freely"
The EU Commission's Framework Plans for Research and Innovation (currently Horizon 2020) were created to help establish the ERA.
Norwegian research infrastructure is adapted to ERA through Norwegian ERA Roadmap 2016-2020 and Norwegian authorities support ERA financially through the EEA agreement.
"An open labor market for researchers - facilitating mobility, skills development and attractive research careers"
One of ERA's main objectives.
The EU’s Charter and Code
To contribute to the development of the European Research Area (ERA), The European Charter for Researchers and The European Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (Charter and Code) were established by the European Commission in 2005.
Charter and Code ensures open, transparent and merit based recruitment of researchers, safeguard good working conditions and focuses on professional development for researchers at all stages of their careers. It also highlights the importance of recognizing and valuing research mobility, internationally, inter-sectorial and interdisciplinary.
Together, Charter & Code consists of 40 recommended principles grouped in the following main areas:
- Ethical and professional aspects
- Recruitment and selection
- Working Conditions and social security
- Training and development
Internationalization, including researcher mobility, is strategically important for USN. International cooperation is vital to solve the societal, environmental and political challenges of our time.
"International cooperation must be actively utilized to increase the quality of our own educational and research activities, and extensive student and staff mobility will be facilitated"
The USN Strategic Plan 2017-2021.
"USN shall have a human resources policy that aims to increase international recruitment and mobility"
The USN Strategy for Internationalization.
Recognizing that USN’s ambitions coincides with the objectives of the Charter and Code, rector Peter Aasen formally endorsed the Charter and Code principles in autumn 2018 and established a project organisation in order to carry out the Human Resources Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R).
Implementing the Charter and Code at USN
The GAP analysis show that Norwegian legislation, complemented with institutional regulations and guidelines comprise a regulatory framework that to a large extent is in line with the Charter and Code principles. Similarly, the objectives of open, transparent and merit-based recruitment (OTM-R) are embedded in Norwegian labour laws and in the Personnel Policy Guidelines and Personnel Regulations for USN.
However, USN has several areas of improvement, not regulated by law, and will therefore use the HRS4R as a tool to keep up the pace in the continuous work to create attractive working conditions, facilitate employee mobility and give researchers good opportunities to develop their careers.
The HRS4R is a five-step procedure developed by the European Commission to assist institutions implement the Charter and Code:
- The institution does an internal GAP analysis by comparing national law and own regulations and practice with the Charter and Code principles
- Based on the GAP analysis, the institution draws up an Action Plan. Analysis and action plan are posted on the institution's website
- EU Commission provides "HR-Excellence in Research" logo by approving institution's analysis and action plan
- The institution does a self-evaluation two years after the logo is received
- The institution receives an external evaluation five years after the logo has been received
To implement the Charter and Code at USN, Rector Peter Aasen established a Steering Committee, a Reference Group and a Working Group in the autumn 2018.
In order to facilitate a thorough process, identifying the real challenges and suggest adequate measures, the Reference Group was comprised of researchers from all four faculties with a variation in age, nationality, career stage (from R1 to R4) and with a gender balance. To facilitate broad discussions and involvement across the organisation, the reference group also included vice deans for research, heads of department, union representatives as well as head of support service units such as recruitment unit and internationalisation unit.
Throughout the process, the Working Group has organised workshops for the Reference Group, followed up on their recommendations, prepared drafts for analysis and action plan, and reported regularly to the Steering Committee. The latter was staffed with top level management in order to align the Charter and Code process with USN overall strategies and ensure sufficient leadership backing.
The initial HRS4R phase finalizes autumn 2019. Thereafter, the Action Plan will be implemented and revised every third year in order to ensure continuous efforts to enhance the working conditions for researchers at USN.
To maintain continuity, the Steering Committee for the initial phase will be prolonged for the implementation phase. In order to secure further involvement of the target group, 4 researchers from the Reference Group will join the Steering Committee, together with vice deans for research. As the level of ambition in the Action Plan is relatively high and several measures are rather complex the steering group will meet every bi-monthly during the first year, thereafter quarterly.
For further information concerning the HRS4R or Charter and Code please contact: