Vitae are a non-profit organisation who work to support the professional development of researchers. You may have come across their Researcher Development Framework which describes the knowledge, behavior and attributes of successful researchers. You can gain access to this and further Vitae resources by registering on their website with your Manchester Met email address.
In September, I attended the 2018 Vitae Researcher Development International Conference held in the Hilton Birmingham Metropole. This conference provides a space for all those with a strategic and practical role in the development of researchers to get together and explore a variety of topics including relevant policy, innovations in researcher development, and methods of evidencing the value of researchers to society.
A key part of this conference was the publication of the recent independent Review of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. The Concordat is an agreement between research funding bodies and universities aimed to improve support for research staff career development, the implementation of which is led by Vitae. An institution’s compliance with the Concordat is demonstrated through the HR Excellence in Research Award. Manchester Met first secured the award in 2013.
The independent review of the Concordat was chaired by Professor David Bogle (pictured), Professor of Chemical Engineering and Pro-Vice-Provost of the Doctoral School at UCL. The review was completed in response to a national growth in researcher numbers, to check the Concordat was still fit for purpose and to measure its impact. Inputs to the review included a sector wide consultation and data from other sources such as the REF and Athena Swan.
The key messages from the review were as follows:
- The Concordat is needed but requires some revisions. There have been some positive impacts, including better access to training and increased researcher representation in universities, but this is inconsistent across the sector. The scope of the Concordat needs to be expanded and language, definitions and the key set of ‘Principles and Obligations’ updated to better represent the needs of the researcher community.
- Increased support is required for the development of researcher independence including a recommended 20% of time allocation for developing independent skills.
- Greater ownership is required from the sector, including an increase in awareness of the Concordat.
- A national approach to the development of researchers is required encompassing both the public and private sectors and co-ordinated with UKRI.
The full review can be found here.
Concluding messages emphasised promotion of broad career options for researchers, with a particular focus on training to innovate and thus drive change.
Response to the review presented by the Chair of the Concordat Strategy Support Group, Professor Julia Buckingham, CBE, Vice Chancellor and President of Brunel University, welcomed the findings of the review; echoing the call for sector ownership and the need to focus on researcher talent development. There will now be a sector consultation on the implementation of recommend changes to the Concordat.
The Manchester Met HR Excellence in Research Oversight Group will monitor opportunities to input into this consultation.
Picture credit: Vitae: https://www.flickr.com/photos/137055068@N07/sets/72157698532631072/ [accessed 12/10/18]