World-Class European Human Resources Management

On January 11, 2023, the mdw was awarded the HR Excellence in Research Award by the European Commission. After successfully completing the first phase of the HRS4R audit, the mdw is now listed as one of the overall 700 recognised European organisations and as the first arts university in Austria on the EURAXESS website1.

The award of the label is a major achievement for the mdw and its efforts in continuously improving the quality of its human resources. Specifically, it aims to improve the recruitment process and the working conditions of artistic and scientific staff. Forming the basis of this is the 40-part criteria catalogue of the “European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers”, which covers four main areas – Ethical and Professional Aspects, Recruitment and Selection, Working Conditions and Social Security, and Training and Development. Having already committed to implementing the goals and requirements of the Charter & Code in October 2019, the mdw has now set in motion an action plan to implement these improvements as part of a multi-stage implementation process.

The mdw’s intensive preparation work is reflected in the assessment of the European Commission: “The assessors welcomed the care taken in aligning your institution’s HR practices with those of the Charter and Code principles. The comprehensive analysis and action plan meet all the requirements for the use of the ‘HR Excellence in research’ award.” The mdw is one of only nine organisations in Austria – including TU Wien, the BOKU, the FWF and the FH Technikum Wien to be listed on EURAXESS. It is also the first Austrian arts university to receive this award and one of only a handful of European art institutions to have successfully undergone the demanding audit process.

The successful completion of external quality controls, such as the HRS4R audit, relies on controlled processes. These contribute to the further structural development of the mdw and promote the sustainable development of distinctive characteristics in the context of an international environment. The HRS4R itself is designed as an ongoing quality assurance process with no definite duration and is audited on a rolling basis by the assessors of the European Commission.

Human Resources Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R) at the mdw

The content of the submission is based on the results of a recent online survey of mdw members from across scientific and artistic fields (at all career levels), as well as the results of a wide range of participatory processes and forums over the recent years, including strategy development processes, the development plan, and the Klausur der Wissenschaften. Many of the measures depicted in the Action Plan are closely linked to the mdw strategies in the areas of diversity, research and internationalisation and support the professionalisation and further development of important future fields.

The work on the HRS4R was carried out by two working groups2 (with representatives from scientific and artistic staff as well as process managers from human resources, research support and organisational development) and was supported by a steering group consisting of the Rector, the Vice-Rector for Organisational Development, Gender & Diversity and the Vice-Rector for International Affairs and Art.

While we are delighted with the award, our focus over the coming years will be to ensure the effective implementation of these actions3 so that we can truly realise our vision of transforming mdw into an even more attractive employer and drawing in even more of the best applicants from around the world. Among our other priorities are the promotion of young artists and scientists (mentoring and supervision), internationalisation, open access, gender equality and the continuous improvement of working conditions at the mdw.


[1] For a list of all certified organisations, see EURAXESS.

[2] For more information on the process and on the composition of the working groups see here.

[3] The Action Plan is available on the mdw’s HRS4R website. The website serves both as a resource and an information platform, with many of the documents available having been translated into English for the first time, providing information for all mdw staff and applicants.

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