Work-Life Balance 4.0 − New ways of achieving family-friendly universities?
During the fourth annual conference of the “Family in Higher Education Institutions” university initiative, held in Vienna on 14 and 15 September 2017, 13 more higher education institutions will sign up to the “Family in Higher Education Institutions” charter. The network now has 101 member institutions. Four Austrian higher education institutions are among the undersigned.
Ewa Vesely, representative for family-work balance issues at TU Wien, which hosted the conference, stated: “This year, we succeeded in bringing the annual conference of the ‘Family in Higher Education Institutions’ best practice club to TU Wien, which, as a member of this university, particularly pleases me. The interest shown by Austrian universities in the conference gives grounds for optimism that a growing number of Austrian higher education institutions (HEIs) are committed to becoming involved in the international best practice club, joining forces to systematically develop needs-based measures to bring about a balance between research/work and family life. The relevant national framework conditions, in particular the Austrian universities network UniKid-UniCare Austria, the equality plans in place and the possibility to establish representatives for family-work balance issues at every university, have a supporting effect, ensuring the sustainability of the measures undertaken.”
The title of the 2017 conference is “Work-Life Balance 4.0 − New ways of achieving family-friendly universities?”. The conference focuses on the opportunities and challenges involved in achieving family orientation at HEIs, which calls for greater mobility and digitalisation. New forms of work and more flexible working hours and workplaces are already considered to be an essential element of the new work-life balance, increasingly blurring the boundary between family duties and work/study commitments.
The second day of the conference is set aside for club members to discuss some of the strategic issues currently at stake. Besides addressing matters of substance, particularly the areas of maternity leave, health promotion, family-oriented study conditions and internationalisation, this year’s conference will also focus on the organisation of cooperation between the now large number of members. The university initiative has already gained extensive experience, such as in digitalisation and good routines, encouraging close cooperation between colleagues. As such, the “Family in Higher Education Institutions” best practice club itself can serve as a good role model for the implementation of working methods independent of time and place.
The Family in Higher Education Institutions The “Family in Higher Education Institutions” charter, published in January 2014, sets high standards in family orientation. By signing up to the charter, university managements express their commitment to greater family orientation at their institution and the sense of responsibility they feel in achieving this objective. In addition, they are able to network within the “Family in Higher Education Institutions” best practice club. They see themselves as being at the forefront of efforts to make society more family oriented and appreciative of diversity. They consider family orientation to be an element of a university’s profile and accept their social responsibility as places of learning and existence where a balance between study/work/research and family life is embraced and self-evident.
CHE Centre for Higher Education supports the “Family in Higher Education Institutions” charter as a strategic development towards achieving sustainable equal opportunities and family orientation in academia.