10 July 2017 | General
BESTPRAC: a model for empowering research administrators in Europe

The network that kicked off four years ago could serve as a model for other targeted COST networks, according to network leader Jan Andersen.

The role of research administrators in universities or institutions is now more important than ever, given the increasing need for external research funding.

Administrators’ work can make or break a collaborative project and define an institution’s collaborations, since cultural and procedural differences in dealing with project administration are inherent to European research consortia. Projects simply cannot perform without efficient processes running their engine.

The perfect space to connect research administrators and institutions

In Mr Andersen’s view, BESTPRAC has been the perfect space for young and experienced administrators to exchange practices and transfer knowledge to institutions that had no experience in supporting EU research projects. “In fact, most network participants have been working in such institutions, and the learning by doing approach has seen everyone present, discuss, or take initiative.” 

"Many early-stage administrators would not have been able to take part in such meetings, had it not been for BESTPRAC", Dr Stijn Delauré, one of the Belgian representatives, pointed out.

"During the past 4 years, I have noticed that several partners - especially working for institutions in Central Europe - have evolved greatly”, Dr Delauré added.

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Exchanging practice enabled [participants] to gain expertise in an unprecedented, fast way. It empowered many of them with the self-confidence they needed to drive change at home - Jan Andersen, Technical University of Denmark

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A new alliance for pan-European research collaborations

A valuable partnership that resulted from collaborations forged in BESTPRAC is CELSA, an alliance setup to stimulate new scientific collaborations. It funds around 10 collaborative research projects annually, connecting researchers in Belgium, Slovenia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

“Thanks to all the interactions in BESTPRAC, I got the right arguments to persuade my own university to join forces with several institutions in Central Europe. (...) The network also enabled me to rethink and improve the work of the research support team at my own university, KU Leuven”, Dr Delauré commented.


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