Good opportunities for research in the UC sector

Sanne Haase
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Sanne Haase left her job at Aarhus University to work within the UC sector. Read e.g. about her experiences of what it is like to conduct research at UC below.

Facts on Sanne Haase

Sanne Haase is one of the researchers who has left academia. Approximately one year ago, she left her post as a postdoctoral fellow at the Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy at Aarhus University and now works at VIA University College as head of research of a department called 'Centre for Studies in quality of education, professional policies and practice'. Here, she is building a new research community and is, therefore, recruiting research talent from academia. Below, Sanne talks about how research is carried out at UC, what types of professional skills they are looking for, and how to make contact.

How is research carried out at UC and what opportunities are available to PhD graduates?

In many ways, carrying out research at UC is similar to carrying out research at universities. However, we don’t have the same kind of free research in that we’re obliged to pursue application-oriented practice. There is actually no clear definition of exactly what is meant by that and this is one of the things we are working on, at my centre. But it’s crucial to our research ambition that research influences practice, so that new knowledge gained by us is of benefit.

However, I actually think that this is a relatively wide-ranging authority. So, in that way, there isn’t much difference.

Thus, leaving academia doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the world of research. There just isn’t as much focus on the UC sector, although my experience is that UCs can often offer a significantly more attractive workplace and career path for people with a PhD.

In our part of the education system, we’ve a wider range of tasks. At a UC, you typically have to teach and carry out research, just as you do at universities. With us, however, there’s a greater opportunity to mix analysis and evaluation activities, participation in consultancy work and such things.

To thrive here, one must also think it’s fun to write applications and work on finding new sources of funding. It’s probably reminiscent of the competencies one would also have to possess at the universities. On the other hand, I believe that the UCs are characterised by having less experience in research and a more agile way of organising research work, which is why there’ll often be opportunities to influence the research agenda.

Why are you looking for PhD graduates and not candidates?

At VIA, we often look for skilled teachers at graduate level but, now that I’m establishing a research centre, I’m looking for research skills in particular.

We carry out a lot of evaluations and analyses and it’s really important that we include the research expertise. It’s also a way of securing a larger and better knowledge base for the benefit of the teaching we provide and the research we deliver. That’s why it’s important to employ someone who works in a structured, analytical and research-based manner with knowledge production, data collection and storage and bringing knowledge into play within and outside our organisation.

Do you need a professional background or carry our research in specific professions to be considered?

You don’t need to have to have professional experience as a teacher or educator to be able to use your PhD with us. The UCs train students for many professions and, because my research centre must technically be able to service all the VIA programmes, I’m interested in many different types of disciplines. By way of example, I’ve just been involved in an application where part of the team is made up of specialists in water supply technology and more hardcore natural sciences while others work with learning. The aim was to make suggestions for how to facilitate knowledge and an interest in natural sciences in young people.

I’m thus open to methodologically strong researchers who will be able to participate in the development of my research department. If a PhD wrote to me and had his or her own initiatives and good ideas and wanted to collaborate, I would find that really exciting. You don’t necessarily have to have a concrete, ready-to-sell and marketable project idea that can be marketed and ready take off in a short span of time. If you have ideas for practice-oriented angles on your research and if you have an interest in the type of research that’s being conducted at a professional college, this may well be sufficient to catch my attention.