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Exchange between various Research Alumni Programmes in Siegen

Represenatives from the universities of: RWTH Aachen, HHU Düsseldorf, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, Universität zu Köln, WWU Münster, Universität Siegen, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen. Present but not pictured: Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

The fourth exchange meeting between the Research Alumni Programmes of different universities took place in September at the Unteres Schloss Campus of the University of Siegen. Representatives from universities all across Germany travelled to Siegen to take part. The purpose of this meeting was to facilitate the exchanging of experiences on the successfully implemented measures of the respective researcher alumni programmes as well as to examine questions on the sustainable retention of research alumni at the universities and long-term continuation of their programmes.

During 2016, Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation (AvH) held its fifth round of applications for funding the conceptualisation of new Research Alumni Concepts. The University of Siegen, along with three other Universities and six non-university research institutions, was recognised for its Research Alumni Proposal, and was awarded €100,000 for its implementation.

Since the first networking workshop held by the AvH for research alumni representatives in May 2017 at the University of Bayreuth, recipients from the most recent round of AvH funding have, on the initiative of those from the University of Siegen, regularly come together with recipients from previous funding rounds, in an informal setting to share their experiences in order to learn from another and to further develop their programmes.

Since then, representatives of the newer Research Alumni Programmes at the Universities of Düsseldorf, Münster, Tübingen, and Siegen have regularly met with their already established counterparts from the Universities of Aachen, Bonn, and Karlsruhe (KIT) and with the participation of the University of Mannheim and the TU Dortmund. After three meetings at different universities, the fourth took place on the 18th September 2018 at the Unteres Schloss Campus of the University of Siegen.

Current status and further perspectives

They firstly introduced the current status of their respective Research Alumni Programmes through the Pescha Kuscha technique (20 slides, 20 seconds per slide) and reported on their current projects and offers for international guest scientists, research alumni and their hosts. During these discussions there was a particular focus on the challenges faced by Research Alumni Programmes as well as their overall future direction.

After a joint lunch the strategic and operative relationship and networking of research alumni with their respective universities was discussed. During these discussions they examined the role of researcher alumni as ambassadors and how Research Alumni Programmes can provide useful support for them. Another important focus was on their long-term sustainability, which was very important for all of the representatives in attendance.

As part of the joint project “Research in Germany” sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) has been providing important impetus for research alumni work since 2011, by awarding funding to promising research alumni strategies at German universities and research institutes – linked to the goal of strengthening international research scholarships to Germany as a research location by strengthening researcher alumni work. As research alumni, they are ideal multipliers to utilise their professional networks to inform junior researchers about the possibilities of a research stay in Germany and to inspire them to take advantages of opportunities offered to them by such a research stay.

The universities of the researcher’s alumni representatives participating in these exchange meetings also want to pursue this strategy. Informal exchanges are therefore still an important basis for the further development of successful measures in their programmes. The time and location for the next, fifth, meeting has already been arranged for the coming year. In February 2019 the unofficial group of colleagues will meet at the University of Münster and will continue to exchange views on new topics and to further advance their Researcher Alumni Programmes through the ideas and strategies that have been developed.

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