The Scientist’s web survey of the Best Places to Work in Academia this year must certainly have added another feather to the cap of European science. Of the International Institutions making the top ten, five were European.
To make the grade, institutions were judged on the kind of working environment they provided. They were assessed in 8 different areas, including how well resourced they are for research; levels of pay; their management style and policies; teaching and mentoring; and opportunities for tenure and promotion.
The survey presented statements exploring quality of life across the board, for example, “My institution fosters a flexible attitude to balancing the needs of work and family” or “My institution values teaching and mentoring of students and junior researchers”.
The sample of respondents, while large, was self-selected. While this undoubtedly introduced some bias into the results, tapping the bias of working scientists to illustrate the kind of infrastructure that adds to the quality of their research lives was, arguably, the point of the exercise.
Coming in at ninth place, the University of Copenhagen (which has had 8 Nobel prizes in physics or medicine over the years) would seem a clear candidate for nurturing successful research careers. However, this is not something they take for granted. Niels Wendelboe, Director of HR & Organisation for the university told the Euroscientist that they “continually aim to make the University of Copenhagen an attractive workplace.” Their success came from two key issues for overall job satisfaction – “satisfaction with management and policies, and that the respondents felt that their research was highly valued by their colleagues”, Wendelboe said.
The 2010 list also saw less well known institutes making their mark – places like INRA’s Versailles-Grignon campus, which in April 2010, also received the European Commission award for excellence in human resource management for researchers. Working on areas including plant genomics and agricultural production, INRA’s success also comes from the close partnerships it maintains with local farmers, high school laboratories, universities, and other research institutes in the rest of Europe and around the world.
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