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Career Promotion for Disabled Academics

University of Cologne’s PROMI project is awarded international employment prize

Since 2013, the project “PROMI – promoting inclusive doctoral studies” has worked to create good employment conditions for disabled scholars and scientists at German universities. Since its launch, the project was able to win 45 talented early-stage researchers with a disability. This commitment has now been honored with an international innovation prize.

The project “PROMI – promoting inclusive doctoral studies” has been awarded as an Innovative Practice 2017 on Employment, Work and Vocational Education and Training. PROMI is being distinguished for the exemplary role it plays in integrating persons with disabilities into the job market. The prize is awarded by the Austrian Zero Project, and was handed over to project coordinator Jana Bauer on behalf of the entire project team on February 23 in the United Nations Office in Vienna. 

PROMI coordinates a nation-wide project with 21 partner universities to create regular employment at German universities for disabled doctoral researchers. The terms of these positions ensure that the researchers have health care, social benefits, and the necessary assistance and equipment they need to pursue their doctoral projects – benefits they would not enjoy with a scholarship or other doctoral grants. Hence it is a big step towards creating equal employment conditions in German academia. 

The experiences the participating universities were able to gather with the disabled early-stage researchers will also help these institutions create more inclusive structures and procedures in the long run. That way, researchers with a disability will in future hopefully no longer be a rarity in academia. PROMI will run until early 2021. 

The Zero Project, an initiative of the Essl Foundation, focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities globally. It provides a platform where the most innovative and effective solutions to problems that persons with disabilities face are shared. The Zero Project is run in partnership with the World Future Council since 2011 and with the European Foundation Centre since 2013.

Further information is available from the PROMI management team at the University of Cologne.

Professor Mathilde Niehaus
Professor Thomas Kaul
Jana Bauer
Phone: +49 221 470 2314
Email: promi-projekt(at)