30. November 2021 | Magazine:

Successful Onboarding of International Researchers New Websites to Support Host Facilities

TU Braunschweig facilitates and promotes international top-level research. Its goal is to significantly increase the proportion of international researchers by 2030. A high quality of service in the onboarding process and in the support of international researchers plays an important role in this.

The Mobile Researchers’ Services (MoRe) is the central advice centre for international researchers at TU Braunschweig. They offer a comprehensive range of advice for international researchers and support the host institutions and facilities with organisational questions. This service has been available at TU Braunschweig since 2011. Dr. Astrid Sebastian has headed the MoRe Services since the beginning. Together with her colleague Annika Ewe, she makes TU Braunschweig as easy to access as possible for international researchers. “Nowadays, cutting-edge research can only be done internationally, because we need the different perspectives and competences of researchers from different countries to find solutions to global challenges,” Dr. Sebastian emphasises.

However, scientists who want to come to TU Braunschweig from abroad often face major hurdles. Lengthy visa procedures and a high level of bureaucracy often delays entry and the start of work. TU Braunschweig would like to simplify these processes. At the end of 2020, a working group was therefore set up in which the International House, the Personnel Department and the Cluster of Excellence SE2A exchanged views on the onboarding processes and discussed steps to simplify them. “This process is extremely important for TU Braunschweig because we are always in competition with other universities for talented international researchers. If we want to be successful in this, we have to reduce the hurdles in the recruitment process,” says Professor Rolf Radespiel, head of the Institute of Fluid Mechanics and co-spokesperson of the strongly internationally oriented Clusters of Excellence SE²A.

Photo credit: Daniel Götjen/TU Braunschweig

New Web Pages as a Step-by-Step Guide for the Onboarding Process

“The number of enquiries from international researchers who want to work and do research at TU Braunschweig is constantly increasing – that’s a very good sign, but we need a higher efficiency rate in these processes,” Dr. Astrid Sebastian confirms. In order to achieve this goal, the working group decided that, as a first step, the processes for recruiting international researchers should be clearly and accessibly mapped online. The motivation for this is that with changing staff in the institutions, knowledge about this procedures is often lost and new staff members have to laboriously inform their way through. The result is a new website that explains step by step how the onboarding process for international researchers at TU Braunschweig works. There are different procedures depending on whether international researchers are to be employed at TU Braunschweig with an employment contract, whether they come to TU Braunschweig as scholarship holders with their own funding or as guests for a short period of time. Host institutes and facilities can use the websites to get a comprehensive overview of these processes. Additional checklists will help to view at a glance which steps still need to be completed.

Digitisation of All Processes is the Prospective Goal

The new websites are building blocks towards paving the way to an onboarding process that is as accessible as possible: “A complete digital recruitment process must be our goal,” Radespiel adds. “At the same time, the processes between all the institutions involved must be further synchronised in order to avoid duplication of work. Of course, digitalisation helps with this,” he explains the future direction.

The MoRe team has already set its sights firmly on the topic of digitalisation for 2022: An online registration tool for international researchers will be released soon. “We want to develop our services further so that all international researchers who want to come to TU Braunschweig or who are already doing research here get the service they need to be able to concentrate fully on their research,” summarises Astrid Sebastian. The exchange on this that has begun between the institutions of TU Braunschweig and the city of Braunschweig and will be continued in the coming year. In addition, MoRe would like to prepare host facilities for the onboarding and supervision of international researchers with workshops and information events. Plans that were well received by Professor Radespiel: “As the Cluster of Excellence SE²A, we depend on attracting international researchers to our university. We are right on track here to bring TU Braunschweig forward in this process.”

Text: Henrike Hoy / International House