URA(University Research Administrator: URA) is a personnel specialist engaging in activating research activities, upgrading research intensity by means of planning and managing along with researchers in a university.
In Okayama University, the URAs are assigned directly under the leadership of the president, Dr. Morita, working in concert with Dr. Shinichi Yamamoto, the executive director (research). The URAs are striving to be of great benefit to assisting our executive officers in running of our university, fulfilling the vital missions, and promoting university reform.
Subsidized by the MEXT program for promoting the enhancement of research university, 8 URAs in Okayama University are now playing important roles in driving our university to achieve world-class research performance in terms of both quantity and quality.
Q & A
Q1: Does the URA handle clerical work?
A1: No, the URA is not a clerical division. One of its roles is to formulate research policies designed to establish Okayama University's position as a research university. For this reason it is a division that acts by making managerial decisions together with the university's top management. Specialized clerical divisions, such as the Organization for Research Promotion & Collaboration (ORPC), handle clerical assistance.
Q2: What are the differences between the URA and ORPC?
A2: The URA is a brain trust organization of the university's top management that is deeply involved in the university's research policies, such as selecting research arrangements and core areas. Once the newly formulated research arrangements and core areas have been set in place, then ORPC and other related sections take over. In other words, the URA's role is that of an architect, while divisions like ORPC are the users.
Q3: What sorts of researchers and research groups does URA primarily support??
A3: URA focuses on further developing top researchers. On the other hand, divisions like ORPC on raising the level of the researchers at the university as a whole.
Q4: What is different between the URA at Okayama University and the URAs at other universities?
A4: There has been substantial use made of URAs ever since the Establishment of Systems to Foster and Secure University Research Administrators that was initiated in 2012 by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The universities that are taking part in their practical application via MEXT have stationed a large number of URAs that primarily provide clerical assistance. The contents of their duties overlap in many ways with that of the clerical divisions supporting that are already in use. Conversely, Okayama University has not taken part in the practical application of its URA via MEXT, but is instead making use of its URA entirely through its own funding. What is more, since the relevant sections that are already in use are being put to use as they are in order to provide clerical assistance for research, the URA is operating on the basis of its previously mentioned roles and missions in order to realize the objective of Okayama University as a research university. For this reason, when we introduce the university's URA we refer to it as the URA at Okayama University, and clearly specify that there are differences between it and those found at other universities.
Q5: Under which organization is the URA affiliated?
A5: The university's URA is under the affiliation of the Strategic Office for Education and Research－which promotes the jump-starting of research in a strategic manner－and it has been positioned as an organization that is under the direct supervision of the president. Duo to the fact that it is not affiliated with the work of any of the faculties, graduate schools, laboratories, research centers, or offices, it can handle affairs from a standpoint that surmounts organizational barriers. Moreover, since the organization is incredibly close to the top management it can also get deeply involved in the university's polities.