Last week, the Faculty of Arts of Masaryk University (FF MU) was awarded the HR Excellence in Research certification (abbreviated as ‘HR Award’). The European Commission grants the HR Award to research institutions that purposefully seek to promote and create an international and transparent working environment. FF MU committed itself to improving conditions in the field of care for researchers and other employees.
‘The current form of faculty processes of care for researchers has its roots in the 1990s. In the meantime, however, faculty research has changed: more foreign employees and numerous teams have been added in place of solitary researchers,’ explains Prof. Lukáš Fasora, Vice-Dean for Research and Development. ‘It turns out, especially in recent years with transnational projects, that some researchers do not feel comfortable here. We want to change things so that the processes become more tangible and proportionate to the interests of different groups of researchers,’ adds Fasora.
First, the team of experts will focus on the definition of jobs and positions and on the rules of career advancement. This will be followed by a strategy of open and transparent recruitment for new employees and their integration into the new environment. For example, regular introductory trainings or synoptic manuals will be created. ‘We will also focus on a unified system of evaluating, training, and developing employees and supervising beginning researchers,’ explains HR Award Manager Silvie Rampouchová. ‘Doctoral studies will change, too; we will also address the conditions for postdoctoral positions.’ At the level of doctoral studies, there should be a revision of the overall university concept and a clarification of the rights and obligations of students and tutors. For example, regular educational events will be organized for supervisors and doctoral students. Important points will also be a gender balance policy and the development of a bilingual environment. ‘Removal of the language barrier is a key prerequisite for the progressive internationalization of faculty research,’ emphasizes Vice-Dean Fasora, adding that ‘it is necessary that all relevant communication takes place in Czech and English – all regulations and faculty websites must be bilingual. We also want selected educational events to be available in English.’
The implementation of all these changes will take place gradually over the next four years, according to a predetermined Action Plan. The expert project team drew inspiration for its compilation from three basic sources. First, there was a debate with members of the working group who were selected to best represent the subcategories of faculty researchers. When electing the members of this committee, Dean Milan Pol took into account not only the field affiliation, but also the representation of different generations, genders, people with foreign experience, and people in leading or subaltern positions in research. The second source was an extensive questionnaire survey conducted at the Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University in 2020. The third source of suggestions was consultations with experts from the faculty, and from university and non-university environments, including abroad. The documents were later commented on by the heads of departments and representatives of the academic senate.
‘After two years, we will have an ongoing evaluation of how we are doing in the process of implementing the Action Plan; after another three years, we will have to defend the right to certification before the European delegation, which will visit the faculty directly,’ explains Silvie Rampouchová. ‘Subsequently, we will defend the certificate periodically every three years, alternately with and without a visit of the delegation,’ she adds.
You can read more information about the whole process of winning and maintaining the certification in a special section on the faculty website or in the information brochure.