This month sees the launch of the new BU Bridging Fund Scheme which aims to provide additional stability to fixed-term researchers who continue to rely heavily on short-term contracts usually linked to external funding. This situation sometimes impacts negatively on continuity of employment and job security and can result in a costly loss of researcher talent for the institution.
The new Bridging Fund Scheme aims to mitigate these circumstances by redeploying the researcher where possible, or where feasible, by providing ‘bridging funding’ for the continuation of employment for a short-term (maximum three months) between research grants. It is intended to permit the temporary employment, in certain circumstances, of researchers between fixed-term contracts at BU, for whom no other source of funding is available, in order to:
(a) encourage the retention of experienced and skilled staff, and sustain research teams and expertise;
(b) avoid the break in employment and career which might otherwise be faced by such staff;
(c) maximise the opportunity for such staff to produce high-quality outputs and/or research impact at the end of funded contracts/grants.
This is a great step forward for BU and for BU’s researchers and is an action from our EC HR Excellence in Research Award which aims to increase BU’s alignment with the national Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers (further information is available here: https://research.bournemouth.ac.uk/research-environment/research-concordat/).
You can read the full guidelines here: BU bridging fund scheme guidelines v1 070815
Good news – BU has been successful in retaining the European Commission HR Excellence in Research Award and is now one of 72 universities in the UK who have successfully passed their two-year review.
The Award demonstrates BU’s commitment to aligning process and practice to the UK Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and therefore improving the working conditions and career development for research staff. In turn this will improve the quantity, quality and impact of research for the benefit of UK society and the economy. The two year review required BU to highlight the key achievements and progress we have made since we gained the Award in January 2013 and to outline the focus of our strategy, success measures and next steps for the following two years.
Key achievements made at BU since 2013 in support of this agenda include:
You can read our progress review and future action plan (2015-17) in full here: https://research.bournemouth.ac.uk/research-environment/research-concordat/
Since 2012 the EC have been exploring a ‘stronger’ implementation approach, including the potential for using quality standards and/or a more formal certification/accreditation process for HR management of researchers across Europe. Recently a new expert group has been appointed to further discussions and Vitae’s recent event, on 23 January, enabled Award holders to provide input into the current five-step process and moving towards a ‘quality assessment’. Detail and outcomes from the event can be found here.
Read the full announcement on the Vitae website here: https://www.vitae.ac.uk/news/72-uk-institutions-have-the-european-commission2019s-hr-excellence-in-research-award
I am delighted to share with you BU’s new Code of Practice for the Employment and Development of Research Staff. Research staff in this context are defined as staff with a primary responsibility to undertake research, including pre-and post-doctoral staff on fixed-term and open-ended contracts funded through limited period grants, named fellowships and sometimes institutional funds.
The code provides guidance on the University’s expectations for the recruitment, support, management and development of research staff in line with the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers (2008) and the European Charter for Researchers (2005). It is relevant to research staff and their managers as well as to BU staff in general. It has been written by the University’s Research Concordat Steering Group and is one of the objectives from our action plan to further align BU’s policy and practice to the seven principles of the Concordat and to further improve the working environment for research staff at BU.
This is the first time that BU has had a code of practice specifically for research staff and the document acknowledges the valued contribution made by research staff to the research undertaken at BU. The further recognition of the value of research staff and the development of career opportunities for them are key matters on which we will continue to work.
Access information about BU’s work to embed the principles of the Concordat here: http://research.bournemouth.ac.uk/research-concordat/
I am delighted to confirm that this week Vitae announced Bournemouth University is one of 11 UK universities that have achieved the HR Excellence in Research Award from the European Commission. This brings the total number of UK universities that have gained the Award to 72. Other universities gaining the Award at this time include the University of Warwick, the Open University and Imperial College London. David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science has said: “Our world-class universities are once again leading the way. It is great news that another 11 UK universities have been awarded the HR Excellence in Research Award. It’s vital that the working conditions of researchers continue to improve because world-class science and research are the key to future economic growth.”
The Award recognizes the work BU has already undertaken to improve the working conditions and career development of all its staff undertaking research, and the University’s ongoing commitment to this agenda. Supporting the career development of all staff undertaking research is embedded in the BU2018 Strategic Plan and we now have an externally approved action plan for strengthening and improving existing practices to EU standards. Progress towards achieving the action plan will be overseen by the University R&KE Committee which is chaired by the PVC and attended by the Deputy Dean (R&KE)/equivalent, REF UOA Leaders, a researcher representative (Dr Marilyn Cash, HSC) and representatives from the R&KEO and other Professional Services. Updates will be posted regularly to the Research Blog.
We’re always open to receiving feedback from BU colleagues. If you have any comments on the proposed actions in the plan or suggestions for improving the research environment then please email these to me at email@example.com.
EC HR Excellence in Research Award: ‘A UK-wide process, incorporating the QAA UK Quality Code for Higher Education, Chapter B11: Research Degrees and the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, enables institutions to gain the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award, acknowledging alignment with the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for their Recruitment’.
Today we have launched a Researcher Development webpage as part of the Research Blog that focuses specifically on the development of researchers at BU. The page currently contains information about training and development opportunities, Vitae, the ECR Forum and what BU is doing to support the implementation of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. We aim to develop this into a comprehensive suite of information for staff researchers over the next few months. If there is anything you’d like to see on the webpage that isn’t there yet then please let us know so it can be added.
To mark the launch of the Researcher Development webpage we have also sent a copy of the Concordat and the relevant Vitae briefing document on implementing the Concordat to all staff researchers at BU and their line managers, as well as to colleagues in Human Resources, Staff Development and the Graduate Employment Service. We are currently undertaking a gap analysis of how current BU policy and practice compares to the Concordat and will publish an action plan of initiatives to improve alignment with the Concordat in due course. The action plan already includes a number of exciting new projects aimed to improve the environment for researchers and I look forward to sharing these with you shortly.
The seven principles of the Concordat are:
1. Recruitment and selection – Recognition of the importance of recruiting, selecting and retaining researchers with the highest potential to achieve excellence in research.
2. Recognition and value – Researchers are recognised and valued by their employing organisation as an essential part of their organisation’s human resources and a key component of their overall strategy to develop and deliver world-class research.
3. Support and career development 1 – Researchers are equipped and supported to be adaptable and flexible in an increasingly diverse, mobile, global research environment.
4. Support and career development 2 – The importance of researchers’ personal and career development, and lifelong learning, is clearly recognised and promoted at all stages of their career.
5. Researchers’ responsibilities – Individual researchers share the responsibility for and need to pro-actively engage in their own personal and career development, and lifelong learning.
6. Equality and diversity – Diversity and equality must be promoted in all aspects of the recruitment and career management of researchers.
7. Implementation and review – The sector and all stakeholders will undertake regular and collective review of their progress in strengthening the attractiveness and sustainability of research careers in the UK.
If you have any feedback about the new Researcher Development webpage or any questions about the Concordat and its implementation at BU then please send me an email.