The international mobility of academics has increased over the last few decades, especially among PhD students and post-docs. In response a growing number of European universities are developing and implementing dual career services to attract and retain international researchers who move abroad with their family.
These researchers are often joined by a partner who resigns from a permanent position at home. In most cases the partner works in academia and is typically a woman who accompanies her male partner even though both partners often have equivalent research qualifications.
European dual career initiatives
EURAXESS is increasingly advancing its knowledge on dual career services. Several European universities actively working with dual career services are sharing experiences and developing tools to make these services available for other institutions. In 2012, a two-year project, TANDEM, was launched with team members from five different European academic institutions.
The main aim of the TANDEM project was to analyse the mobility obstacles for researchers and their family members and to show various strategic and institutional ways of minimising them. More than 3,000 doctoral and post-doctoral students answered a survey, which showed that between 40% and 60% of respondents moved abroad with a partner. The project analysed the basic requirements for a successful implementation of dual career and integration services and developed a modular approach that can be adopted by any academic institution interested in providing dual career services.
The survey outcomes show that researchers with partners ranked dual career and housing as the most important aspects in the mobility process. Moreover, they indicated that the existence of dual career services would influence their final decision if they got several job offers.
Additionally, researchers stated that there is a general lack of useful dual career and integration services available across Europe. In order to address this issue, a new three-year EURAXESS project (TOP III) started in 2015, where participants from six European countries, all actively involved in dual career programmes, are working on the collection and analysis of dual career practices in their respective countries. The end result will be a collection of beneficial dual career practices and recommendations on how to implement these services.
Author: Mark de Vos, senior international mobility consultant at the University of Copenhagen
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