Strengthening the framework for research careers

group photo
Rector Mr. Petter Aasen emphasized USN’s international ambitions in his opening speech at the first Charter & Code workshop. From left to right: Mr. John Baarli (Euraxess-coordinator, The Research Council of Norway) Mr. Ragnar Lie (Senior Advisor, Universities Norway), Mr. Petter Aasen and Mr. Christian Brørs (Project Manager)

University of South-Eastern Norway was granted the "HR Excellence in Research" award in 2020 and is now implementing the Action Plan for 2022 - 2025.

Implementation of EUs Charter & Code principles, through the Human Resource Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R) process, helps USN identify areas of improvement, and has a special focus on early-stage researchers, career development and mobility.

Interim assessment

During winter and spring 2022, a working group has carried out an internal review and developed the draft for a revised Action Plan 2022 – 2025, which has been on hearing before being approved by the steering group and adopted by rector in May.

HRS4R interim assessment

The review, which has been based on surveys, comittee discussions and interviews with USN researchers, indicates that there is room for improvement with regards to on-boarding of newly recruited researchers, especially PhD candidates and researchers with foreign background.

The review also shows a need to further strengthen the support for research mobility and research career development.

The findings in the internal review are addressed through corresponding measures in the Action Plan 2022 – 2025. Some measures are prolonged from the previous plan, while others, such as the establishment of a PhD union, are new and identified through the internal review.   

The European framework for research

In 2000, the European Research Area (ERA) was established by the EU to strengthen the European competitiveness 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 Europe) 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:

  1. Ethical and professional aspects
  2. Recruitment and selection
  3. Working Conditions and social security
  4. Training and development


USN’s ambitions

Mrs. Elisabeth Ernø Borhaug leads the steering comitee for implementing the Charter and Code at USN.

Internationalization, including researcher mobility, is strategically important for USN. International cooperation is vital to solve the societal, environmental and political challenges of our time.

" We participate in international research and development networks and establish partnerships in order to strengthen research collaboration across national borders"

The USN Strategic Plan 2022-2026.

"Internationalisation must form an integral part of all aspects of USN’s activities"

USN Action Plan for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion 2022-2025

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 2018. 


Implementing the Charter and Code at USN

The GAP analysis showed 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 areas of improvement, 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.

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 initial phase with the GAP analysis and the first Action Plan, the Working Group 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. 


Ms. Ingrid Lossius Falkum, researcher at University of Oslo and representative from The Young Academy of Norway emphasized both the importance of god planning and predictability concerning mobility for researchers and the need to encompass life-phases in the planning process.
At the workshop for the Reference Group in October 2018 Ms. Ingrid Lossius Falkum, researcher at University of Oslo and representative from The Young Academy of Norway, emphasized both the importance of god planning and predictability concerning mobility for researchers and the need to encompass life-phases in the planning process.


Following the reception of the "HR Excellence in Research" award in 2020 USN’s Department of Research and Internationalisation and the Department of Personal and Organisation has collaborated in efforts to continuously enhance conditions for research and prospects for researchers. 

The implementation of the measures in the action plan has been led by Mrs. Elisabeth Ernø Borhaug (Director, Personnel and Organisation) and Mr. Thomas Slagsvold (Director, Research and Internationalisation), and been monitored by the steering group which now is comprises of vice-deans for research for all four faculties and four researchers.  

HR Excellence In Research logo


Human Resources Strategy for Researchers


Implemention Phase:

Initial Phase:

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee monitors the HRS4R and prepare the renewal phase in 2025.

USN at a glance

HR Policy Documents

Research policy documents

Selected legislation and regulations

Research mobility and career

Contact information