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Boosting researchers’ careers to capture the best talents

To raise more interest among academics, Haaga-Helia will assess the introduction of the HR Excellence in Research Award for researchers in 2023.


Kitte Marttinen

project director
Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences

Ana Timonen

project manager
Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences

Published : 23.05.2023

Traditionally, universities of applied sciences are not the primary target for young researchers’ career dreams. According to the report of the Finnish Union of Researchers and Teachers (2021), only 35% of young researchers were interested in universities of applied sciences as future employer, whereas research-intensive universities were of a great interest for 86% (Ijäs-Idrobo 2 September 2021).

The reason for the lower interest of universities of applied sciences may lie in the prospects for research careers. For making Haaga-Helia as an interesting workplace for researchers a great deal of activities has taken place in recent years.

One of the main actions is the development of the researchers’ career path. Haaga-Helia invests heavily in academic applied research, and doctoral graduates play a key role in this.

Therefore, Haaga-Helia in 2023 will assess the introduction of the HR Excellence in Research Award for researchers as part of the COMPASS project by the European Ulysseus university alliance. The award is a recognition by the European Commission of the development of researchers’ working conditions and careers.

The HR Excellence in Research award benefits both researchers and universities

The aim of this quality work related to researchers’ careers is to support and develop professional careers of researchers and other staff doing research in Haaga-Helia. The award indicates that the university acknowledges and promotes the rights of researchers and values researcher’s experiences of international mobility. Moreover, the award demonstrates fostering the transparency of the recruiting process of researchers and respecting their work-life balance.

One relevant motive for universities and research organizations to apply for the HR award is that the award can help them to recruit high-class research staff. Universities having such an HR label are more attractive to researchers looking for a new employer or a host for their research project.

The HR award is also a signal that the research organization takes care of its researchers and the development of their careers. It will foster transparency in recruiting researchers, acknowledging their rights, mobility, and competence development, as well respecting their work-life balance.

Further, the award supports the change of organizational research culture and strategy implementation, advances international visibility and research funding opportunities by the EU, which are paramount for universities of applied sciences. A new research culture will encompass the behaviour and values of the research community and it will influence researchers’ career paths and determine the way that research is conducted and communicated.

Continuous assessment is the key for HR Excellence

HRS4R is a voluntary and structured procedure based on continuous assessment. Data for the assessment the introduction of the HR Excellence in Research Award will be collected in Haaga-Helia from researchers and other staff members doing applied research as well as from internal stakeholders, such as research management, HR, research services, quality and communication for instance through surveys and personal and group interviews. The assessment aims to clarify the present situation of research careers in Haaga-Helia and prepare for the actual application process for the HR Excellence award.

Until now, 692 organizations have received the HR Excellence in Research award throughout Europe. From Finland, 11 universities and research organizations have been granted the award. So far none of them are universities of applied sciences (European Commission 2005).


Ijäs-Idrobo, M. 2 September 2021. Nuoremmat tutkijat uravaihtoehtojen risteyksessä. Tieteentekijät.

European Commission 2005. The European Charter for Researchers. The Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. Luxembourg.