Human Resources Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R)

As an internationally oriented research university, German Sport University Cologne offers an attractive working environment for researchers from Germany and abroad. In this light, the university has decided to apply for the "HR Excellence in Research" award from the European Commission, which offers German Sport University the opportunity to position itself even better in the international competition for highly qualified researchers.

At the same time, all employees of German Sport University benefit from synergies in internal university cooperation: on a common strategic basis new impetus with regard to further training and counselling opportunities, leadership development and the standardisation of recruitment processes can be provided.

"HR Excellence in Research" is awarded to those organisations who have successfully implemented the so-called Human Research Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R). This consists of the "European Charter for Researchers" and the "Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers". By signing Charter and Code, an organisation voluntarily commits itself to reviewing, complying with and implementing the guidelines contained therein. The German Rectors' Conference (HRK) supports the participation and has recommended its implementation to higher education institutions.

What is covered by Charter and Code?

Charter and Code contain a series of recommendations from the European Commission to improve working conditions and employment relationships for researchers and address both the researchers themselves and their employers. They are divided into four thematic areas with concrete recommendations:

  1. Ethical and professional aspects (e.g. ensuring freedom of research by employers, compliance with ethical principles in research, dissemination and exploitation of research results)
  2. Recruitment and selection (e.g. open and transparent recruitment procedures, equal treatment of all applicants, recognition of mobility and professional experience)
  3. Working conditions and social security (e.g. social security and adequate pay for scientists at all career levels, creation of an adequate research environment)
  4. Training and development (e.g. access to training opportunities, leadership development, career counselling, career development opportunities for researchers)


What steps are required?

German Sport University initiated the process for the implementation of the European Charter & Code in December 2021. The first two phases will be completed in 2022, the third phase in early 2023.

The HRS4R process contains the following project phases:

  • Phase 1: Conduct an internal gap analysis to determine the current status and identify improvement needs and gaps.
  • Phase 2: Development and publication of an institution-specific action plan based on the gap analysis; concrete actions are listed, prioritised and provided with a time schedule.
  • Phase 3: Recognition of the self-report by the European Commission and the permission to use the logo "HR Excellence in Research".
  • Phase 4: Internal review after two years (written interim report)
  • Phase 5: External evaluation after another three years by the European Commission (on-site evaluation)
Project group & contact

A project group commissioned by the President’s Office developed the gap analysis and the action plan according to the EU guidelines. The President’s Office is responsible for the project and assumes the role of a steering committee; The University Commission for Research and Young Academics is particularly involved as a representative community of researchers, but other bodies and stakeholders are also included in various steps.

Project team in alphabetical order:

  • Dr. Birte Ahrens, Research Administrator for Humanities and Social Sciences (Department for Research and Young Academics)
  • Birte Ebbinghaus, Personal Advisor to the President (Persönliche Referentin des Rektors)
  • Katharina Kaysers, Advisor HR Development (Referentin Personalentwicklung)

Contact: HRS4R@­