family-friendly higher education audit
Since our audit in 2010, we have developed and implemented a series of measures to help all members of the University to reconcile their family life and career/studies. We will continue to develop and expand these measures as necessary, and adapt them to the changing circumstances.
Guiding principles of family-friendly higher education at Universität Hamburg
Universität Hamburg sees itself as a family-friendly higher education institution. We aim to make combining family life with academic studies or a career a normal part of the university culture, and believe family is a valuable asset.
The family-friendly higher education audit serves to systematize and develop the existing regulations, activities, and opportunities. It aims to create a reliable framework offering scope for individual arrangements.
It was for this reason that the University applied for the family-friendly higher education audit in the summer of 2010. Following successful completion of the audit, the University received a certificate and the right to display the corresponding signet, which is protected throughout Europe. Audited universities are committed to their social responsibility. They meet the legal requirements for gender equality and for supporting students and employees with family commitments.
The family-friendly higher education audit serves to systematize and develop the existing regulations, activities, and opportunities. It aims to create a reliable framework offering scope for individual arrangements. The solutions should take the different needs of the various status groups into account. Employees and students must be able to achieve a healthy balance between their studies/work and their family commitments, including childcare and care duties.
A comprehensive and sustainable approach to support the reconciliation of family life and a career/studies must be integrated into university structures and processes, and become an integral part of our university culture. Beside organizational measures, this requires the corresponding attitude that takes the diverse individual living situations into account: all members of the University—both managers and employees working in research or teaching, administration or technical fields—and students with and without family commitments are encouraged to find and implement solutions together. The different framework conditions and opportunities for action of the individual status groups must be considered.
In 2010, Universität Hamburg participated in the family-friendly higher education audit conducted by berufundfamilie GmbH for the first time and was successfully certified.
In summer semester 2013, a re-audit was conducted with the involvement of the Executive University Board, heads of faculties and departments, University Administration, subject representatives in the faculties, AStA (student council), and Studierendenwerk Hamburg (student services).
In several workshops, the measures implemented to date and framework conditions were reviewed, and goals and actions were prepared for the further development of a family-friendly teaching and study environment and family-friendly human resources work over the next three years. Based on the outcomes of these workshops, Universität Hamburg’s President signed an agreement confirming the goals for the family-friendly higher education audit in the next three years in August 2013. Universität Hamburg was once again awarded the family-friendly higher education audit certification on 5 December 2013.
The re-audit and consolidation for the family-friendly higher education audit began in Summer Semester 2016 and is due to be completed in Winter Semester 2016/17. The aim is to continue to develop family-friendly measures at Universität Hamburg based on positive changes that have already been made. This will help students and employees to better combine academic study or work with family life, and enable the University to retain its family-friendly higher education institution certification.
In this third phase of the family-friendly higher education audit—the consolidation, the focus was on reviewing the institutionalization of family-friendly measures at the University; evaluating the previous implementation of measures for combining study, work, and family life; and clarifying how university culture has changed for the better in terms of its family-friendliness over the past few years. At the same time, it was determined that further attention must be paid to certain areas in which improvements still need to be made in the future.
All of these issues were considered during professional discussions with University management, heads of faculties, HR Development, and staff councils.
In addition, individual conversations were held with employees from different levels and areas as well as with students (so-called “culture interviews”) in order to review how established the topic of combining study or work with family life has become. The aim was to determine how the students and employees interviewed assessed the existing offers at the University to support combining study or work with family life, how they rated acceptance of the topic (e.g., among management staff), and what specific experiences they had had in their own work or studies.
The procedure concluded with a discussion with the Executive University Board, an analysis of the results of the professional discussions and culture interviews, and outlining of the framework for the goals to be signed again as further confirmation of the family-friendly higher education audit certification.
The goals agreed were signed by Universität Hamburg’s Executive University Board on 20 January 2017, along with other binding measures to be implemented by family-friendly higher education institutions over the next three years.
By signing the new target agreement, Universität Hamburg commits to additional binding measures over the next 3 years. These include:
- To provide a clear overview of all information and advice offers on reconciling family life and a career/studies as well as related topics, such as health management and diversity.
- To outline in an appropriate format (guidelines, codes of conduct, etc.) how managers can help their employees to reconcile family and a career (tasks and roles), and teachers assist students in the family-friendly organization of their studies.
- Wherever possible and necessary, to expand the infrastructure enabling parents to bring their children with them to the University, e.g., parent-child rooms (possibly also suitable as multipurpose spaces), short-term childcare (like at Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH)), etc.
- To continue to develop the information and advice offers for carers, with a focus on raising awareness (incl. of “hidden” carers among students and the resulting stress).
The current certificate is valid until 15 March 2020.