B10 - Early career researchers and employment challenges – UK and European perspectives

Day 1 at 16:30 - Early career researchers and employment challenges – UK and European perspectives
Day Day 1
Session B
Start time 16:30
Strand Research Staff
Code B10

Laurence Hopkins - Head of Research, Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA)

Jonathan White - Bargaining and Negotiations Official, University and College Union (UCU)


There has been a significant focus on career support and development for early career researchers in the UK in recent years and it remains ahead of the curve in Europe in this respect. However, many non-academic challenges remain, many of which are related to employment terms and conditions and some of which have led to informal and formal employment disputes. The use of fixed-term contracts, maternity provisions, and the arrangements in place for PhD candidates and research staff to support learning and teaching are just three areas where concerns have been raised. These issues also raise broader questions about the stability and sustainability of research careers in the UK. 

This workshop will explore the employment issues facing early career researchers, the employment relations context and identify potential and actual solutions from recent European research by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) and research on the funding and employment of UK researchers by the University and College Union (UCU). It will also look to draw on participant experience of these issues, how they affect researchers and what solutions might be feasible. 

This session will cover:

  • The employment relations landscape in HE
  • Particular issues and challenges regarding early career researchers
  • Research on the role of trade unions and employers in supporting early career researchers in six European countries (Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Italy, Romania and the UK)
  • Research on the funding and employment of researchers by UCU 
  • Recent examples in the UK 

Participants will:

  • Improve their understanding of employment relations in HE as well as the specific issues regarding early career researchers
  • Learn about context, policies and practice in the UK and other European countries
  • Discuss their own experience and identify possible / practical solutions to address key issues


Two presentations (with PowerPoint slides), table discussion, feedback and group discussion. Participants should be prepared to include examples from their own experience during discussion.