Family Orientation as Standard: higher education institutions sign the Family and University Charter
A total of 47 universities and academic institutions from all federal states signed the Family and University Charter at the first annual “Family Orientation of Universities” conference at Leibnitz Universität Hannover. By signing the charter, HEIs are committing themselves to making family orientation an important part of their profiles. In doing so, they are fulfilling their social responsibility as educational and living spaces, where people can naturally balance studies, professions and academia with family duties.
Frank Ziegele from the Centre for Higher Education (CHE), said: "Having 47 signatories to the charter is a stunning response that exceeds our expectations.” Since the summer of 2013, Dr Ziegele has been working with 12 HEIs from the Best Practice Club to compile guidelines for balancing family responsibilities with studies, teaching, research and jobs that support academia at German HEIs. The Family and University Charter, which was published in January 2014, goes way beyond minimum standards. "For me, it is an encouraging sign that the family orientation issue has arrived at HEIs," said Ziegele.
The aim of the initiative is to establish a distinctive brand and quality label for family orientation at German HEIs and to put the network that has existed since 2008, and in which participating HEIs share experiences and learn from each other, on a sustainable footing.
The publication of the charter in January followed an animated discussion on how HEIs and academic institutions that are committed to family orientation can contribute to increased equal opportunities in the academic and educational system. Universities wanting to sign the Family and University charter and join the Best Practice Club were still registering for the conference in the final few days before it opened.
Signatory HEIs work together in a close-knit network to share experience and learn from each other. (Photo: Thomas Damm)
Existing and new members of the Best Practice Club will meet for a first working session after the conference to discuss future work. The ambitious project is funded by the Robert Bosch Foundation and supported by the Centre for Higher Education (CHE).
The launch of the successful Best Practice Club Family and University in 2008 gave rise to a unique HEI network with a national dialogue and co-operation at eye level. All member universities have many years’ experience of initiating and implementing family-orientation measures at HEIs.
There are currently 12 members of the Best Practice Club: Beuth Hochschule Berlin, the Brandenburg University of Applied Sciences, Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus Senftenberg, Universität Erfurt, Leibniz Universität Hannover, HAWK University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hildesheim/Holzminden/Göttingen, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Universität Konstanz, Munich University of Applied Sciences, Potsdam University of Applied Sciences, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen and Hochschule Wismar.