New concordat sets out the conditions required to create the best culture for researchers to thrive

12/09/2019
New concordat sets out the conditions required to create the best culture for researchers to thrive

Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, Chair of the Concordat Strategy Group and Vice-Chancellor and President of Brunel University London.

A refreshed Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers – known as the Researcher Development Concordat – has established the necessary conditions for researchers to flourish and help deliver the UK’s economic and industrial strategies.

Launched today at the Universities UK (UUK) Annual Members' Conference, by Chair of the Concordat to Strategy Group (CSG) and new President of UUK Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, this renewed covenant will support improvements in the research environment and opportunities for professional development for researchers across the sector, clearly setting out the respective responsibilities of researchers, managers of researchers, institutions and funders.

The result of a thorough review, consultation and drafting process, the Concordat has received over 1000 contributions from researchers, research funders and research organisations from across the sector. All organisations with an interest in the career development of researchers will now be able to sign the Concordat and many members of the CSG have already committed to the Principles by signing as of today’s launch, including Cancer Research UK, UK Research and Innovation, Wellcome, and the UK Research Staff Association (UKRSA).

By signing, organisations commit to producing “an annual report to their governing body or equivalent authority, which includes their strategic objectives, measures of success, implementation plan and progress, which subsequently is publicly available”, amongst other responsibilities. The Concordat also acknowledges signatories’ vital role in “collectively engaging” with systemic challenges, including “seeking ways to provide more security of employment for researchers, such as, through reducing the use of fixed, particularly short term, contracts, providing bridging facilities, and flexible criteria for maternity and paternity benefits”.

Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, Chair of the Concordat Strategy Group and Vice-Chancellor and President of Brunel University London said:

“This publication of the Researcher Development Concordat represents a significant milestone for the higher education sector. It resets the bar and provides fresh impetus for progress over the next 5 to 10 years towards the long-term ambition of driving systemic change and creating the healthy and supportive culture needed to ensure our researchers are given every opportunity to thrive.

“The sector will have collective responsibility to uphold the Principles of the Concordat and I hope all organisations with an interest in the career development of researchers will sign up.”

Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation Professor Sir Mark Walport said:

“Developing our dedicated, talented and ambitious researchers is essential to generating new ideas and new knowledge.

“The revised concordat reaffirms our collective commitment to providing the very best career support and is part of our wider responsibility to continuously strengthen research and innovation culture.

“Creating a culture of integrity and respect will enable the very best research and innovation to flourish, ensure the UK can continue to grow and attract talented individuals and help maintain public trust in our work.”

The Concordat calls for “shared responsibility across the wider academic and professional communities”, including through specific expectations for researchers and their managers, as well as for institutions and funders. For example, institutions and managers of researchers are expected to provide researchers with “opportunities, and time, to develop their research identity and broader leadership skills” as well as researchers themselves being expected to “seek out, and engage with” these opportunities.

Drs Anjali Shah and Alison Tidy, Co-Chairs of the UK Research Staff Association, said:

“Researchers welcome the publication of the revised Researcher Development Concordat because it sets out expectations for all key parties to together create the more supportive and inclusive culture necessary for conducting excellent research. We particularly appreciate the expectation of time and opportunities for researchers to develop their research identity and broader leadership skills, which should support their success in a wide range of careers.”

In the coming weeks, there will be further opportunities to learn more about the new Concordat, such as: the Second National Postdoc Meeting 13 September; the Vitae Researcher Development International Conference, 16-17 September and at an event hosted by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) on 16 October. Limited print copies (including bilingual versions in Welsh and English) will be available to accompany the open access PDF and refreshed webpages.

Read the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers in full www.vitae.ac.uk/concordat-full2019

Supporting information and examples of practice can be found at www.vitae.ac.uk/concordat

Information for organisations intending to sign up https://www.vitae.ac.uk/policy/concordat2019/Commitment

Notes to Editors

About the Concordat to Support the Career development of Researchers

The Concordat, as first published in 2008, provides a framework to support the career development of researchers in UK universities and research institutes. In 2017, the Concordat Strategy Group announced an independent ten-year review to evaluate the progress made in implementing the principles and provide recommendations on the future role, content and governance of the Concordat. As a result, a new Researcher Development Concordat was published in September 2019. Details of Concordat Strategy Group membership can be found here.

About Vitae www.vitae.ac.uk

Vitae provides the Secretariat to the CSG.

Vitae is the global leader in supporting the professional development of researchers, experienced in working with institutions as they strive for research excellence, innovation and impact. It is a non-profit programme, part of CRAC: the Career Development Organisation with nearly 50 years' experience in enhancing the skills and careers of researchers. Vitae strengthens its members' institutional provision for the professional development of their researchers through research and innovation, training and resources, events, consultancy and membership.

CRAC provides research intelligence and innovation for all those who support career development for people of all ages and in all sectors. We work in partnership with government agencies, education organisations and providers and employers and professional bodies.

CRAC is a registered charity No 313164 established in 1964.

About Universities UK

Universities UK is the collective voice of 136 universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its mission is to create the conditions for UK universities to be the best in the world; maximising their positive impact locally, nationally and globally. Universities UK acts on behalf of universities, represented by their heads of institution. Visit: www.universitiesuk.ac.uk

About the UK Research Staff Association (UKRSA) www.vitae.ac.uk/UKRSA

UKRSA collaborated on and fully support the revised Researcher Development Concordat.

Contact

To learn more about this press release, please contact:
Sarah Nalden, Marketing & Communications Executive
22 Signet Court, Swanns Road, Cambridge, CB5 8LA

Sarah.nalden@vitae.ac.uk Mobile: 07708 914976 Office: 01223 460277