Saarland University has received the HR Excellence in Research Award by the European Commission on March 30, 2022.

The European Commission is committed to ensuring excellent working and research conditions in the European Research Area. In 2005, the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers were therefore published in order to establish common standards for scientific employment conditions at universities in Europe. Saarland University is committed to complying with the principles and achieving the objectives set out in the Charter and Code of Conduct and is seeking recognition with the HR Excellence in Research Award of the European Commission. In doing so, the university wishes to contribute to the development of an open and sustainable labour market for researchers.

In addition to implementing an open, transparent and merit-based recruitment policy, the programme establishes standards for good scientific practice. It also aims at facilitating the transfer of research results as well as fostering mobility and career options for researchers at all stages of academic qualification.

Charter & Code


Saarland University is currently undergoing a process of assessing its working and research conditions for academics through the European Commission’s HRS4R certification programme, which covers four main areas:


Ethical and professional aspects

This area includes the following topics: research freedom, professional attitude and responsibility, contractual and legal obligations, good practice in research, dissemination and exploitation of results as well as evaluation systems and equality.

Recruitment and selection procedures

This area includes the following topics: transparency and performance orientation of the recruitment procedures, recognition of qualifications and mobility phases in careers that might deviate from a classic academic career path.

Working conditions and social security

This area includes the following topics: contractual stability, financial security, teaching activities and participation in decision-making bodies.

Career development and continuing professional development

This area includes the following topics: academic supervision for early-career researchers, opportunities for continuing professional development in the context of specific research-related abilities and more general soft skills.

HRS4R certification procedure

Saarland University has handed in three basic documents on the European Commissions EURAXESS portal: a Gap Analysis, an Action Plan and an OTM-R Checklist. These documents lay the basis for the certifcation and will be explained in the following sections.

Gap Analysis

Based on the 40 criteria set out in the charter and code, the Gap Analysis serves as a tool used to evaluate the institution’s current status, allowing to identify gaps and room for improvement. Based on the results, objectives and measures to achieve the objectives have been defined in the Gap Analysis and in the Action Plan.

OTM-R Checklist

The OTM-R Checklist records the current state of implementation of an open, transparent and merit-based recruitment policy at Saarland University. It served as the basis for the development of an OTM-R Status Quo Document which outlines OTM-R practices at Saarland University and reinforces its commitment to the development of an open, transparent and merit-based recruitment policy.

Action Plan

Based on the Gap Analysis and the OTM-R Checklist, the Action Plan specifies measures to achieve the objectives defined in these documents. Time frames and milestones are determined for each measure, providing both orientation for internal implementation and for progress reviews by external experts. The Action Plan will regularly be reassessed and updated.

Further steps

In case of positive evaluation, Saarland University will receive the HR Excellence in Research Award and the implementation phase will start right away. After two years, the progress of the implementation will be reassessed by external experts during an Interim Assessment. The action plan will be updated regularly according to upcoming needs and the new measures will be implemented over the following three years.  By participating in the HRS4R certification programme, Saarland University seeks to make a sustainable and long-term contribution to the optimization of research conditions in accordance with European standards.

Persons involved

On behalf of the University Board, an advisory committee has been established for the HRS4R certification procedure. This committee consists of the Vice President for Administration and Finance, the Academic Staff Representative Council, the Gender Equality Officer as well as of researchers in different qualification phases. Various administrative divisions are involved in the process, particularly in the development of actions. The coordination of the project is centered between the University President's Office and the Human Resources Division.

Documents for download

OTM-R Policy

Action Plan


March 30, 2022: Saarland University has received the HR Excellence in Research Award and has now entered the implementation phase.

March 02, 2022: Based on the EC assessors' feedback, particular aspects of the processes and documents have been changed in order to fully meet the criteria of the certification.

August 2021: The relevant documents have been formally submitted and adjustments have been made to fully meet the criteria of the certification.

 July 2021: The Gap Analysis was presented to the university’s Oversight Committee and revised in response to feedback.

June 2021: The working group obtained extensive feedback on the application documents by three external experts that were engaged for support. Constructive suggestions and proposals for improvement were made at many levels and have been incorporated into the application documents.

June 2020: Saarland University has sent the letter of endorsement and thus officially committed to the HRS4R certification process. 


Current status of the certification process

Saarland University has received the HR Excellence in Research Award on March 30, 2022 and is now preparing the implementation of the actions foreseen in the action plan. One central measure is the further elaboration of an OTM-R Policy depicting working and research conditions at the institution. It is currently available as a draft version and can be found and downloaded above on this website.






For further information please contact:

Anna-Maria Braun