YERUN – Young European Research Universities has teamed up with other leading university associations – Aurora Universities, Coimbra Group, European University Association, and The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities – in issuing a collective statement concerning the European Framework on Research Careers. This statement is a direct response to the European Commission’s proposition for a Council Recommendation on a European framework to attract and retain research talent in Europe.
We welcome the European Commission’s progressive initiative in putting forth a Council Recommendation on research careers, but it is essential to recognise that this proposal marks just the initial stride in a broader journey. A true realisation of enhanced research careers in Europe relies on a series of further, more proactive commitments that individual Member States must undertake.
From the university sector, these are our concerns and considerations for improvement:
- Sustainable research careers hinge on the presence of enabling framework conditions for institutions and the stability granted by long-term core funding.
National governments adopting the proposal are encouraged to enhance framework conditions for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) through legislative changes and adequate funding, ensuring a balance between short-term competitive funding and strategic long-term funding streams.
- Flexible and multiple career pathways should be envisioned with a holistic and long-term perspective.
Doctoral education’s uniqueness should be recognised and valued across sectors beyond academia, and Member States should facilitate truly circular transnational and intersectoral mobility for researchers.
- Universities should be empowered to offer stable and more predictable research careers.
The same threshold for fixed term contracts is unlikely to fit the needs of all universities. Attention should shift to the types of contracts and their eligibility for social benefits, aiming to provide stable and long-term career avenues.
- The evidence base for monitoring research careers should be developed in an open and sustainable manner.
We support the creation of the Research and Innovation Careers Observatory (ReICO) to monitor research careers effectively and we call for an open and transparent process to collect data, covering research funding and enabling comparisons over time, geographical areas and disciplines.
Finally, given the voluntary nature of the Council Recommendation, we urge equal opportunities and balanced progress in research careers across countries. Protecting academic values, providing high-quality support, and keeping incentives voluntary are crucial. Member States should ensure dedicated resources and accountability for effective implementation.