You are here: Aarhus BSS Alumni News

Do your research in Aarhus - and bring your spouse!

Many international researchers decide not to join Aarhus BSS because their spouse is reluctant to go or is not enjoying life in Aarhus. For this reason, Aarhus University and Business Region Aarhus have entered into an agreement which centres on finding jobs for the spouses of researchers.

2017.03.19 | Thomas Pallesen

The husband or wife of an international researcher is often left to their own devices when the researcher gets a position at a university far away from home. This represents a significant obstacle when it comes to attracting researchers and retaining them at Aarhus BSS.

And we would really like these researchers to join us and do their research in Aarhus, and we would also like to be able to retain them.

Today, Aarhus University is one of the world’s top 100 universities, and we want to continue to be so. Preferably with an even higher position on the ranking scale than today.

But for this to happen, we have to be able to attract and retain the very best researchers wherever in the world they might be.

It’s not realistic to think that the world’s top researchers are already living in central Jutland or even in Denmark. For this reason, we simply have to look beyond the country’s borders.

During my time as head of the Department of Political Science, I had to say goodbye to a talented international researcher because his wife was not enjoying life in Aarhus. She didn’t have a job, and thus no network, and she just wanted to go home. This is completely understandable. It’s also understandable that her husband chose to leave the department and go with her.

Work and family life

Just like every other job, the job as a researcher must offer a good work-life balance. This is crucial for both work and family life.

In the past, I have also tried to help the spouses of international researchers by calling people in my own network in an attempt to establish some useful contacts. But this wasn’t the best solution either.

That’s why Aarhus University has now entered into an agreement with a number of municipalities which have joined forces in the Business Region Aarhus network. The network consists of 12 municipalities from East Jutland with Aarhus as the natural driving force.

The agreement means that Aarhus University must enter into research projects that generate new knowledge about regional growth and development. At the same time, the 12 municipalities are obliged to find relevant job opportunities for the spouses of international researchers that come to Aarhus. Typically, these jobs will have a six to 12 month duration, and the agreement covers approximately 30 positions a year.

Naturally, that we now have something specific to offer the spouses of foreign researchers in terms of employment, gives Aarhus BSS and the rest of Aarhus University many new opportunities as an international university.

The key to network

In Denmark, the labour market is very much the key to establishing an independent network of your own. And perhaps even more so here than in other countries.

In fact, as Danes, we must admit that we are not the most open people when it comes to, say, new neighbours.

When I took my family to the US 10 years ago for work purposes, we had lent our home in Denmark to a German colleague and his family while he was working at Aarhus University.

From the very first day, our new neighbours in the US welcomed us with open arms. During the first month, we were invited to Thanksgiving, which family-wise equals our Christmas Eve, and our sons were invited to football.

When I contacted my Danish neighbours after a while, they had to admit that they still hadn’t had the chance to talk to the German family living in our house.

This goes to show that Danes are probably a bit more reserved than many other nationalities, and that’s why the agreement with Business Region Aarhus will benefit all parties. Both in terms of recruiting talented international researchers and retaining them here for longer.

Indeed, it is our hope that the international researchers who join us in Aarhus will find that their spouses are also enjoying it here. Not least since they will have an attachment to the labour market. It would mean a great deal.

The reason is that we’re not just doing this for the sake of the researchers or their spouses. We’re doing it because it makes sense, and because we need top researchers if we want to be a top university. And this is something we have to be. Something we want to be.

Aarhus BSS