ÖPUK Research Manager Working Group Fosters Best Practices, Connects Research Administrators

A new working group focused on research management within the Austrian Private Universities Conference (ÖPUK) has been formed, instigated by CEU Research Grants Coordinator Veronika Csapó. In organizing toward a new working group among private universities, Csapó conducted outreach to 16 universities and drew from her experience as an active participant in the COST Action Project, BESTPRAC, a network of research administrators working to share best practices and develop further knowledge and resources in transnational research project administration.

"In the last years, Austrian private universities have recorded the highest growth rates within the four higher education sectors. ÖPUK is supporting and monitoring this impressive growth with its working groups, which focus on what constitutes a university: quality assessment, the coordination of libraries, profiling within the higher education sector, teaching etc., and now, most importantly: research,” said ÖPUK Vice-Chairperson and CEU Director of Austrian Affairs Ulrike Plettenbacher. Plettenbacher championed the formation of the research manager working group among ÖPUK’s leadership during the summer of 2021, and after several months, the newly approved working group convened managers from ten universities online for the first time on December 3, 2021.

“In addition to being a supportive network, we hope that the private universities also become more recognized by the public universities as equal research contributors and as professional and desirable partners for research collaborations,” said Csapó, who was elected as chairperson of the working group for a three-year term. She hopes to host the next meeting in person this spring at CEU’s Vienna campus, emphasizing what a positive experience it has been to meet people in similar roles and collaborate on solutions to shared challenges in research management.

"It was fascinating to get to know Austrian private universities better and to hear about the priorities regarding research,” noted CEU Vice-President for Academic Cooperation and Research Management, Zsusanna Gabor, reflecting upon the first meeting. She added, “While this is a very diverse group, ranging from art schools with only undergraduates to a research-intensive medical university, it was reassuring to understand that regarding research management, their challenges are very similar, including research data management and the requirements of open science, gender equity in academia, establishment of internal research ethics board, etc.”

The currently established goals for the group are to serve as a platform for networking and cooperation, a forum to share best practices and exchange professional information and experience, as well as to enhance research activities at the member universities and promote partnerships and cooperation with public and private universities and research institutions.

Gabor and Csapó additionally highlighted that CEU is positioned to share learnings from the experience of  organizing research management within an institution, and through expertise gained by the university’s SUPERA project regarding how to prepare a Gender Equality Plan, which is now a requirement for European universities.

Csapó admits that the day-to-day management of large-scale collaborative research projects can be taxing. Her take on the new research managers working group: “This is really a space where we can look forward and be in a generative and positive environment to reflect on our work and think through it together.”