EARMA Conference Oslo


Challenges for RMA involved in a European University Network, the case of Ghent University in the ENLIGHT consortium


Dirk De Craemer


  • F
    Frederik Dewulf
  • M
    Margo Baele


EARMA Conference Oslo

Format: Poster

Topic: Organising Support Services & Team Building


The European University Alliance, called ENLIGHT, won extra project funding through the SwafS call under H2020. This project (named ENLIGHT RISE) is coordinated by the University of Bordeaux.

The goals of this project are put forward at the level of the alliance: 1) empower R&I transformation; 2) increase the research capacity; 3) strengthen the innovation capacity; 4) increase the capacity to attract and retain talents; 5) create impact for society; 6) contribute to the longer-term deployment of European Universities.

At Ghent University, most activities will be performed at the central research department. There are 9 work packages leading to 47 project deliverables within a timeframe of 3 years. This adds an extra workload on the shoulders of the Research Managers and Administrators (RMA) at each of the 9 ENLIGHT partners.

Unfortunately, the project funding is too limited to significantly reduce this workload. In addition, the international aspect of the project adds an extra layer of challenges and potential issues on top of the daily tasks of the RMAs. The RMAs hardly knew their colleagues from the partner universities and had even never before worked together in the context of a joint international project.
Within the partnership, the difference in size, organisation and available personnel at each partners’ Research Support Office (RSO) and Tech Transfer Offices (TTOs) has equally played its role and proven a challenge to quickly identify the most indicated contact person for each work package.

With 9 partners (with 2 different time zones) and 9 work packages leading to 47 deliverables, the project is work intense including a speedy and vast sequence of meetings which further stresses the RMAs availability. Furthermore, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the RSOs/RMAs have been unable to physically meet during neither the proposal nor the start-up and execution phases of the project, thereby slowing down the mutual acquaintance and possibility to lengthy talk some issues through and thoroughly outlay and discuss each other’s priorities, work organisation and institutional strategies.
Other challenges include the (non)existing fields of expertise, how to include/interest researchers to the centrally led project, the different (level of) experiences between the partnership concerning valorisation, the re-assessment within RSOs of self-created work tools and work processes, communicating the broader European University Network strategy amongst administrators and researchers, linking different strategies on topics as e.g. young researchers, etc.
To tackle many of these challenges, the network has – amongst others – highly engaged in consortium wide mapping and internal surveys.

At the EARMA conference 2022 we will share and discuss our experiences at Ghent University with regard to the start of this project and the execution of a first set of project activities during the first half year of this project.