LUT University offers a sustainable and attractive working environment for researchers and strives to improve it further with the European Commission initiative HRS4R - Human Resources Strategy for Researchers.
In January 2013, LUT signed a commitment to promote the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (Charter and Code). LUT University received the "HR Excellence in Research" award from the European Commission on 6 November 2013.
LUT has passed the renewal phase of the award for the last time in November 2019 and continues to use the “HR Excellence in Research” award and the application of the regulated HRS4R process for continuous improvement.
HRS4R management – coordinating and monitoring the process
The steering committee of the LUT quality and sustainability management systems chaired by the vice rector for education is responsible for directing the HRS4R process at LUT. The steering committee makes decisions on the HRS4R activities and action plans and monitors the implementation of current HRS4R action plan. Researchers are represented by committee members appointed by LUT schools.
In the operational level HRS4R working group coordinates activities, takes care of internal and external communication, follows the progress of actions, prepares documentation for internal and external assessments and organizes meetings to assure the implementation of action plans.
Internal assessment – driving force for improvements
The researchers' career and working conditions are developed through actions deriving from an initial gap analysis based on the Charter and Code and regular internal assessments. The development actions are described in the HRS4R action plan, which is assessed internally and revised every three years.
The latest internal review in November 2022 was based on
- comprehensive gap analysis based on the Charter and Code of Conduct renewed in the spring 2021,
- analysing the LUT’s strategic action plans from the perspective of objectives set in the Charter and Code,
- focused discussions within the steering committee and with relevant support service personnel who have a general view on the researchers’ everyday life at LUT.,
- utilizing the LUT intranet and web site in the internal review as they provide information, guidance and support on established processes and procedures to researchers and applicants.
The review revealed our strengths and development targets concerning every four aspect of the Charter and Code.
LUT University is proud of how it has improved its researchers' career path and HR procedures in recent years. The improvements have a strong link not only to the European principles of the Charter and Code but also to LUT's Strategic Management.
Examples of improvements and good practices developed since the commitment to the HRS4R process
Ethical and professional aspects
- New doctoral students get Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) guidelines and doctoral students are recommended to complete a national course on research ethics.
- The university offers a course on Ethics and Research Integrity to all university employees and doctoral students. The course embeds study of the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity and Finnish Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) guidelines.
- LUT has nominated a Research Integrity Advisor, with whom researchers can confidentially discuss their concerns and ask about ethical processes in the university.
- Services on preliminary ethical review and research permits are available for academic staff.
- LUT’s own Code of Conduct developed together with the university staff (updated in 2022).
- A joint recruitment system has been developed by identifying and implementing good practices of LUT University and LAB University of Applied Sciences, which form the LUT Universities Group.
- The LUT’s recruitment supporting team has been strengthened to enable more active development of recruitment practices.
- All features and functions of the electronic recruitment system have been comprehensively utilized to assure e.g. reliable comparison of applicants.
- Applying established practices in selection have boosted the recruitment processes.
- Refining the eligibility requirements for the beginning of a research career have made the start of postgraduate studies more effective.
- The research facilities at LUT are up-to-date and continuously developed by the LUT’s investment plan, in addition the strategic partnerships have strengthened international collaboration and the available research infrastructure.
- The communication and feedback mechanisms are numerous and systematic at LUT.
- Researchers are represented in all official decision-making bodies of the university, and they are represented in many working and steering groups of LUT.
- Flexible working hours and remote work are the benefits the researchers greatly appreciate. Advanced digital and online tools and systems enable working and teaching from other places than the primary place of work according to LUT’s blended work policy.
- The gender balance in academic positions has improved at LUT after application of the tenure track model. In addition, the number of women is management positions has increased substantially.
Training and development
- The systematic and transparent guidelines and advancement criteria of a four-stage researcher career and tenure track systems support and guide the professional development of researchers.
- The annual development discussions between the employee and the supervisor set targets for researcher’s development and training, and mutually agreed objectives are recorded on an electronic form managed in the HR information system.
- Training needs are reported from the HR information system and the data is used to develop staff training more widely e.g. in the LUT personnel training plan, which is updated annually. From 2023 onwards, the skills need of staff will be reviewed in a more comprehensive work community development plan.
- Examples of regular training offerings for researchers are: Supervision of the doctoral thesis and dissertation for doctoral students’ supervisors, Grant writing training and Project management training.
- Leadership briefings are short sessions with monthly changing themes are organized to strengthen the role of supervisors and research leaders.
- The monthly induction meetings for new staff at LUT are held remotely, allowing flexible participation regardless of location.
HRS4R action plan – a guideline for implementation
The development targets revealed by the initial gap analysis and internal reviews are tackled by regularly revised HRS4R action plans. In the first action plan for 2013–2015, LUT concentrated on developing three areas, which according to the gap analysis required the most attention, namely recruitment processes, the orientation of new employees and feedback mechanisms. For the next action plan for the years 2016–2018, Dissemination and exploitation of results, Evaluation/appraisal systems, Supervision and managerial duties, and Teaching were chosen as new development areas requiring actions.
The third action plan for the years 2019–2021 partly continued or extended some of the previous actions but also contained new areas of development. The actions cover the gap principles of Professional responsibility, Dissemination, Exploitation of results, Evaluation/ appraisal systems, Transparency (Code), Career development, Value of mobility, Access to research training and continuous development and Supervision.
The latest action plan for the years 2022–2025 is based on the external evaluation and feedback of the international peer review team which had its on-site visit at LUT in May 2019, a gap analysis based on the Charter and Code renewed in the spring 2021, and a comprehensive internal assessment, which revealed both strengths and development targets to be addressed. The action plan has altogether 24 actions focusing on equality and non-discrimination related issues, improving the applicants’ juridic position, assuring proper induction for new employees, increasing the ethical awareness of researchers, supporting work ability of all employees, integrating employees from foreign countries to the LUT academic community and working in Finland, developing and maintaining infrastructure to increased needs for remote work, supporting researchers in commercialization of research results.
Recruitment policy – Integral part of HSR4R process
OTM-R Policy – Open, Transparent and Merit-based Recruitment Policy is an integral part of the strengthened HRS4R process. The openness and transparency in recruitment and merit-based selection of talented researchers are the basis for successful recruitment and key principles in which LUT is adhered. LUT has regularly scrutinized its own recruitment processes and practices according to the OTM-R checklist and the latest internal review is completed in October 2022. The review revealed that the current recruitment practices are substantially developed in the most parts.
External assessment - keeping on the course
The HRS4R process includes regular external assessments executed by the European Commission. An external assessment by peer review team making a site visit takes place every six years. The first on-site visit took place at LUT in May 2019.
In their assessment, the peer review team commended the strong link between the HRS4R process and LUT's strategy. They highly acknowledged the informal but efficient organizational culture of LUT, the supportive approach of university management to the HRS4R process and their careful protection of employees. In addition, the peers gave critical comments and recommendations on LUT's HRS4R process which have inspired LUT’s development activities.
As a result of the site visit and external assessment, LUT passed the award renewal phase on 6 November 2019. As a result, LUT has continued using the 'HR Excellence in Research' award which is evidence of LUT being a provider of a stimulating and favourable work environment for researchers. LUT is committed to further apply the regulated HRS4R process for continuous improvement of its HR processes of researchers.