17 December 2010

European Commission recognises University’s investment in researchers’ careers

Elphinstone Hall
Elphinstone Hall

The University of Aberdeen has been awarded the 'HR Excellence in Research' badge by the European Commission for its work to implement the UK Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.

This makes the University one of only 23 institutions in the UK - and of only 15 in the rest of Europe - to have gained this recognition for commitment to ensuring good working conditions and career development for research staff.

The European Commission initiative aims to encourage a step-change in the way thatuniversities across Europe recruit, manage and develop researchers. In the UK, institutions can demonstrate their alignment with the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for their Recruitment through their implementation of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers which was launched in 2008. The Concordat, launched in June 2008, is an agreement between funders and employers designed to support research staff by outlining the roles, expectations and responsibilities for researchers, managers, funders and employers. Signed by Universities UK (UUK) and Research Councils UK (RCUK), the Concordat is based on a series of seven principles designed to enhance the attractiveness and sustainability of research careers in the UK and to improve the quantity, quality and impact of research for the benefit of the UK society and its economy.

Welcoming this acknowledgement of the University's commitment and activity in the professional development of its research staff, Principal and Vice-chancellor Professor Ian Diamond said: "We are delighted that European Commission has recognised the support which we offer our researchers in developing their careers and skills to deliver the path-breaking research that is key to our international ambitions.

"The University strongly endorses the principles of the Concordat and this is evidenced by the many activities we have underway which clearly demonstrate our commitment to our researchers and their professional development."

David Willetts MP, UK Minister of State for Universities and Science said: "I am delighted to announce that thirteen UK institutions have been awarded the HR Excellence in Research badge by the European Commission for their work to implement the UK Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. It is right that as we put research at the heart of our plans for future prosperity, we prioritise the development of excellent researchers able to capitalise on the impact of that research."

Professor Sir Ivor Crewe, Chair of the Concordat Strategy Group, added: "The Concordat was launched with explicit recognition that research is crucially important to the UK - not just to the success of our academic institutions, but to the growth of our economy and society. Two years after the launch of the Concordat it is clear that UK institutions are putting in place policies and structures to ensure that research staff employment conditions and career development are central to university strategies. However, there remain some serious challenges for sustaining the research workforce in higher education, not least the importance of providing frameworks for career progression within an increasingly competitive environment of short term, and uncertain, funding."

Ellen Pearce, Director of Vita and UK representative on the European Commission HR Strategy Group, said: "We are delighted that UK universities are receiving international recognition for their work to develop researchers' careers. Over the last few years we've seen real progress in the way that universities train and develop researchers. From a recent survey we know that 70% of universities have embarked on an implementation programme to update their policies and practice. The challenge now is to maintain progress given the changes in researcher development funding. We hope that many other UK institutions will gain the recognition from the European Commission for their work."

Notes for Editors

  1. The UK institutions to gain the 'HR Excellence in Research' badge are Aberdeen, Aberystwyth, Bristol, Cambridge, De Montfort, Glasgow, Hertfordshire, Leeds, London School of Economics, Loughborough, Edinburgh Napier, Swansea and the Institute of Cancer Research. They join the universities of Aston, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Heriot-Watt, Newcastle, Queen Margaret University (Edinburgh), Reading, Salford and York.
  2. Other European institutions to gain the recognition are listed on the EURAXESS website.
  3. The 'badge' acknowledges that institutions have completed a gap analysis of their existing policies and practice against the Concordat, developed a robust action plan for implementation, and taken into account the views of researchers
  4. Institutions wishing to gain the EC recognition should contact Ellen Pearce, mailto:ellen.pearce@vitae.ac.uk in the first instance.

Vitae is a national organisation championing the personal, professional and career development of postgraduate researchers and research staff in higher education institutions and research institutes. Vitae plays a major role in the drive for high-level skills and innovation and in the UK's goal to produce world class researchers. Its vision is for the UK to be world-class in supporting the personal, professional and career development of researchers. Vitae is supported by Research Councils UK (RCUK), managed by CRAC: The Career Development Organisation and delivered in partnership with regional Hub host universities.

Research Councils UK (RCUK)

Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils, investing annually around £3 billion in research. The RCUK focus is on excellence with impact and nurturing the highest quality research, as judged by international peer review. The seven UK Research Councils are:

  • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
  • Medical Research Council (MRC)
  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
  • Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
CRAC: The Career Development Organisation

CRAC: The Career Development Organisationis an independent, charitable organisation with a core aim to promote and encourage career development and active career-related learning. CRAC manages a number of innovative programmes within education and skills development sector.

Issued by the Communications Team
Directorate of External Relations, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen
Tel: +44 (0)1224 272014

Contact: Shaunagh Kirby
Issued on: 17 December 2010
Ref: HR


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