Promotion of Early Career Researchers at the University of Bern

 The 120% Model in practise

The 120% Model was initiated in 2010 at the Vetsuisse Faculty. The aim is to contribute to a better balance between career and family life and to ensure continuity in the professional career. Postdocs, residents and doctoral students with care responsibilities, e.g. parenthood, may apply to reduce their workload from 100% to 60% for a maximum of one year and with the appointment of a supplementary technician or doctoral student for ≤ 60%.

The joint level of employment is 120%. During this year, the technician or doctoral student will increase their existing level of work to the same extent that the sponsored person reduces his/her workload. They take over urgent, non-adjustable clinical or laboratory work so that the ongoing research projects can be continued within the existing time framework. Training can take place before the 120% period begins. It goes without saying that the people working together in the 120% model have to understand each other well, should be cooperative and maintain an open communication. As a consequence of the more intensive cooperation, new ideas can also emerge.

Flexibility in support is important 

People who wish to be supported by the 120% Model submit a request to the Commission for Academic Promotion of Young People and Gender Equality (KANG). In assessing these applications, it is crucial that the provided support be used in pursuance of the next career objectives. However, a broad-minded assessment of the applications is also important to us. For example, one woman taking part in the scheme asked whether she could use a portion of the amount for additional day care. In doing so, she could calmly evaluate results and publish them. Of course, this plan was supported! Another woman planned during pregnancy to collect clinical data in a large cattle herd located abroad. After unexpected pregnancy problems arose, the amount could be used for another person to take her place and collect the clinical data.

Conclusions from supported people and the Vetsuisse Faculty 

Feedback from people who have been supported has been very positive: all confirmed that the model created greater manoeuvrability for day-to-day management of family life and work. Breastfeeding was perceived to be more stress-free, there was the possibility to introduce children with more flexibility into their new care system and hectic moments of family life could be dealt with in a more composed manner. Within the framework of the 120% Model, not only were crucial tasks completed and projects finished in a timely manner, there was also more space for the individuals themselves. This led, amongst other things, to new projects being tackled more purposefully. All supported individuals were able to write publications and conference papers during the supported year, or even complete their habilitation.

On the basis of these positive experiences, the Vetsuisse Faculty is of the opinion that the 120% Model is goal-oriented and also a cost-effective support measure. The examples show that thanks to these allowances, research projects can be successfully pursued and the transition back into the working world can be made in a more flexible way.

Make a request and benefit from the 120% Model! 

The creation of so-called 120% solutions (20% overlap) in clinics and research can bridge absences during pregnancy or later for childcare. For 100% positions, for example:

Postdoc 60% and technical assistance 60% 
Postdoc 70% and technical assistance 50% 
Postdoc 80% and technical assistance 40%

The maximum amount is 12'160.- per person and the maximum duration is 12 months. Requests from people with a lower degree of employment are adjusted accordingly. Applications for this allowance can be made by young academics during pregnancy and up to two years after giving birth.

Required Documents 

Curriculum Vitae 
Reasons for application 
Recommendation letter from the supervisor 
Amount requested

Applications can be submitted at any time to Prof. Dr. med. Vet. Gaby Hirsbrunner, who will also happily provide any further information required.

The Vetsuisse Faculty strives to support you, the employees, in balancing family and career. The faculty appreciates that you are engaged not only in your professional activities but also in the care of your children, in your partnership, in the care of relatives or in voluntary duties.

Based on the guidelines and information from the Department of Equality for women and men at the University of Bern (AfG), we offer here an overview of topics and individual bodies, which make finding the balance easier.

Family and child care at the University of Bern

The KIHOB Foundation for Childcare Provision at the University of Bern provides and assists in family-oriented care and supports children of the University of Bern. 

What to do in emergencies? Would you prefer to have your child or children looked after by a nanny? Answers to these questions can be found here:

The university strives to create child-friendly and family-friendly places: for example, there is a nursing room, a parent-child room and a range of highchairs for children in some university canteens. For the location of these facilities and instructions for use click here:

In cases where financial short-comings arise in connection with the balance of family and work or continuing education, various scholarship opportunities are offered by the Canton or by other foundations. An overview of what is available or to discuss with an advisor, please consult the following webpage:


Are you faced with major challenges, such as managing work and childcare or the care of relatives? The Department of Equality offers partnership counselling for employees in cooperation with the “Fachstelle UND – Familien und Erwerbsarbeit für Männer und Frauen". Employees can take advantage of individual counselling or counselling with their partner. This gives the opportunity to reflect on the current situation and to develop new action plans and solutions for improving the balance of work and family/private life. More information and registration for coaching is available here:

The Welcome Centre is a central information and advisory service for new researchers, teachers and their families. It provides assistance and guidance prior to arriving, and during your stay in Bern and advises on topics such as searching for housing, health insurance, budget planning, German courses, child care and similar challenges. All information on the Welcome Centre is found here:

Flexible working time model

The Department for Gender Equality offers advice on various flexible working time models. However, you can also consult the personnel department, an external consulting company or the legal department of the University of Bern. The University of Bern has also issued an information sheet and guidelines on job-sharing. There are also regulations on working from home and paid and unpaid leave. Click here:

If you wish to have a personal interview to discuss one of these topics, please contact the Gender Equality Coordinator of the Vetsuisse Faculty.

VetMENT Mentoring - Programme of the Vetsuisse Faculty

The mentoring programme VetMENT is aimed at all Doctoral students, PhD students, Research Assistants, Residents, Postdocs, Research Associates and Assistant Professors of the Vetsuisse Faculty of the University of Bern.

The next cohort starts at October 3rd, 2019: Information Vetment 9.2019.pdf (PDF, 41KB)  Application Form 9.2019.pdf (PDF, 47KB)

VetMENT is a tool for the individual promotion of young talent and has four main objectives:

  • To actively support young scientists at the Vetsuisse Faculty with their careers.
  • To establish contacts with national and international high-profile scientists and thus to provide access to networks in order to develop their own.
  • To strengthen competence by means of workshops and to prepare the next generation of young scientists for their university career.
  • To encourage the young scientists at the Vetsuisse Faculty to develop networking together.

Mentoring is a method originally derived from the USA, to promote young people, especially women, in science, politics and economics. Mentoring in science also has a role in scientific and institutional appraisal and clearly plays a part in structural and cultural change in universities (e.g. the question of part-time working in the upper employment levels). Changes in circumstances causing gaps in Curriculum Vitae and interruptions through family obligations create inequality; Structures and career progression are orientated, particular in the university environment, to traditional lifestyle models. For VetMENT, it is a priority that the students should learn to recognize chances and opportunities; through interaction with mentors, they should be motivated towards active career planning. This exchange also provides the opportunity for an "accelerated transfer of knowledge": By working with other people, not only in the context of university but also in practice, our young academics will learn the rules and reality faster and more effectively.

Are you interested? 

Dr. Silvie Klein-Franke is responsible for the project coordination.

Please do not hesitate to contact her for further information.

For more information on this subject, follow this link (in German).