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Supporting Early Career Researchers in Higher Education

In 2013 and 2014, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) of the UK, the European Federation of Education Employers (EFEE) and the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) worked jointly on the project ‘Supporting early career researchers in higher education in Europe: the role of employers and trade unions’. The Ministry of Education and Culture of Cyprus, the Association of Finnish Independent Education Employers (AFIEE) and the Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers (FUURT) played an active role in the project.

Through this project, the project partners built further on the evidence collected by the Working Group on Higher Education and Research of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education (ESSDE) on the three focus areas: gender equality; the environment for early career researchers (ECRs); and the mobility of academic staff within Europe. The Working Group identified specific challenges that can relate to ECRs including work/life balance issues, the short-term nature of contracts and related job insecurity, social security rights, and career progression. This project was established, with the support of the European Commission, to understand and address these issues in a more comprehensive way and identify the role that education employers and trade unions can play.

Contact: Laurence Hopkins

Summary report

Supporting Early Career Researchers - Summary report

Press release

French Summary Report

German Summary Report

Case studies

Cyprus case study

Finland case study

Germany case study

Italy case study

Romania case study

UK case study

Literature review

Literature review

Final conference - 21 November 2014


Agenda Final Conference 21 11 2014

ICO - Location Map

Conference Presentations

Supporting early career researchers in HE in Europe

Challenges facing early career researchers in Italy

Supporting early career researchers - Imperial College London

Supporting early career researchers - Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation

An example from Social Partners in Hamburg - Sabine Grosskopf

An example from Social Partners in Hamburg - Peter Pampel

The Research Concordat - Vitae.pdf

The Research Concordat - UCU.pdf

Project information 

This project is supported by the European Commission. EU DGV Project VS/2013/0399 financed under budget heading, Industrial Relations and Social Dialogue.

Project partners

Lead applicant: Universities and Colleges’ Employers Association (UCEA).
Co-applicants: European Federation of Education Employers (EFEE) and European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE).
Affiliated entities are: Association of Finnish Independent Education Employers, Ministry of Education and Culture of Cyprus. 

Steering Committee

  • UCEA - Helen Fairfoul, Chief Executive & Professor Geoff White, Research Director & Laurence Hopkins, Lead Researcher
  • EFEE - Bianka Stege, General Secretary & Sarah Kik, Assistant General Secretary / Project Manager
  • ETUCE - Martin Romer, European Director & Alexandra Ruedig-Ironside, Policy Coordinator
  • Cyprus - Stelios Christophides/Andreas Papoulas, Senior Education Officers of the Ministry of Education and Culture
  • Finland - Nina Pärssinen, Executive Director of the Association of Finnish Independent Education Employers (AFIEE)

Objectives of the project

The aim of this project is to improve expertise in industrial relations in the higher education sector and to promote the exchange of information and experience among EFEE and ETUCE members.

More specifically, the project aims to:

  • Reach a shared understanding, and possibly a ESSDE outcome, about the specific challenges facing early career researchers in Europe incorporating the perspectives and roles of trade unions and employers and the available options for responding to these challenges.
  • Provide insight to the European Social Partners in Education on what we can do to improve social dialogue on industrial relations and employment relations issues pertaining to early career researchers. 
  • Explore where dialogue between national social partners improves support for early career researchers.
  • Improve awareness of the existing work in the area of early career researchers (among others European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (2005), the HR Strategy on Researchers (2008) and the “HR Excellence in Research logo of the EC”, The UNESCO Recommendation (1997), the ETUCE report (2011)) their implementation and benefits in improving research quality through the provision of high quality support for early career researchers.
  • To understand the trends in the career progression of female researchers, including areas of progress, and identify initiatives that have been successful in improving equality in career progression, particularly those initiatives that provide support to early career researchers.
  • To produce a set of resources including case studies and practitioner-oriented research and policy guidance to complement the existing international work in this area.
  • To facilitate peer learning between national social partners in the education sector, especially in the higher education sector; to exchange best practices and learning experiences.
  • To contribute to the European social dialogue between employers’ organisations and trade unions in the education sector, more specifically to continue the current work of the Working Group 3 on Higher Education & Research and to improve the coordination, functioning and effectiveness of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue for Education.