Aurora recommendations for academic careers

Aurora rec­om­men­da­tions on attrac­tive and sus­tain­able aca­demic careers

As part of the European Commission's public consultation process on its initiative on attractive and sustainable careers in higher education, the Aurora Network submitted comments.

On January 9, 2024, the European Commission launched a Consultation procedure so that EU citizens as well as institutions can submit comments on a planned Commission initiative for attractive and sustainable careers in higher education. 

The statement of the Aurora Network

The Aurora Universities Network supports the idea of creating a framework for academic careers. In higher education, these careers can involve advancing within a single discipline or exploring various roles across academia.

However, it is important to consider the diversity of academic roles and careers. We ensure the inclusion of this diversity in our recommendations to promote coherence and alignment with relevant EU recommendations and principles:

Alignment with EU Council Recommendations:
Ensure coherence and alignment with EU Council recommendations on research careers, talent retention, CoARAprinciples, and the research management career framework developed under ERA Action 17.

Inclusion of Education, Research, Innovation, and Societal Outreach:
Include education (teaching), research, innovation, and societal outreach in academic careers, recognising that many employees in academic institutions have hybrid careers or shift between functions.

Recognition of the Multidimensional Nature of Academic Careers:
Recognise the multidimensional nature of academic careers and align with CoARA principles, emphasising broader recognition and rewards beyond just the number of publications. Emphasise teaching, impact, societal engagement, research support, management, leadership, and patient care.

Equitable Recognition and Reward System:

Establish a system where teaching is acknowledged and rewarded more comprehensively, placing less emphasis on the quantity of publications, and instead prioritising other areas of academic engagement. These areas encompass teaching, societal impact and engagement, research support and management, leadership, and patient care. Academics should meet basic requirements for teaching and research, and excel in one domain. Encourage the development of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary skills.

For an example of academic career guidelines and their development process, we refer to the Dutch guidelines outlined in the Recognition & Awarding strategy by the Dutch universities’ Rectors conference UNL.

Furthermore, the background document of this initiative highlights the significance of the joint European degree, the European Universities Initiative, and quality assurance. In this context, we underscore:

Broadening the Horizon:
Academic careers are integral to the European Strategy for Universities, alongside joint European degrees and the European Universities initiative. Focusing solely on joint degree programs and European University Alliances overlooks the broader significance of academic careers.

Unified Framework for Diverse Paths:
Develop a comprehensive framework encompassing various career paths in higher education, including research, staff roles, and research management. This unified approach will facilitate the integration of international experiences into evaluations more effectively.

Addressing International Experiences:
The framework should address international experiences within consortia beyond the European Universities Initiative, resolving challenges associated with varying recognition practices among Member States and their universities. By recognising diverse career paths, the framework can help remove barriers hindering academics from participating in international programs.

Striving for Consistency:
While ensuring quality assurance is essential, there must be greater alignment across the EU and defined minimum standards.

Maintaining Standards:
Any new European quality assurance mechanism should uphold or surpass the effectiveness of existing national systems. The principle of maintaining high standards extends to academic careers, ensuring that current national systems are not replaced by inferior alternatives.

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