UK universities receive European Commission's recognition for researcher development

The latest 15 UK universities to gain the HR Excellence in Research award from the European Commission were announced at the Vitae Researcher Development International Conference in Manchester on 5 September. The UK now has 38 of its higher education institutions recognised in this way.

Speaking from Brussels Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science said: "The European Commission, through its Innovation Union flagship initiative, is committed to putting research and innovation at the top of the political agenda. We want to turn ideas into growth and jobs. UK universities play an important part in strengthening the excellent research base in Europe and ensure that our researchers have the right skills to maximise the value of innovation across all sectors."

A UK-wide process enables UK higher education institutions to gain the European Commission's HR Excellence in Research award, which acknowledges their alignment with the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for their Recruitment. The UK process incorporates both the QAA Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes and the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers to enable institutions that have published Concordat implementation plans to gain the HR Excellence in Research badge. The UK approach includes ongoing national evaluation and benchmarking.

Professor Sir Ivor Crewe, Chair of the Concordat Strategy Group:

"I am delighted that a further 15 UK institutions have gained the HR Excellence in Research award from the European Commission. These announcements highlight our commitment in the UK to training and developing researchers and to continual improvements in provision as we implement the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.

"However, the current economic climate presents some serious challenges for sustaining the research workforce in higher education, not least the importance of providing frameworks for career progression within an environment of short term, and increasingly competitive, funding."

Ellen Pearce, Director, Vitae, UK representative on the European Commission HR Strategy Group:

"We are delighted that UK universities are receiving international recognition for their work to develop researcher careers. We hope that many other UK institutions will gain the recognition from the European Commission over the coming months."

Vitae is supported by Research Councils UK (RCUK), managed by CRAC: The Career Development Organisation and delivered in partnership with regional Hub host universities.

1. Other European institutions (currently 27) to gain the recognition are listed on the EURAXESS website

2. The UK universities to gain the HR Excellence in Research badge are the University of Bath, University of Birmingham, Brunel University, University of Central Lancashire, University of Dundee, University of Durham, University of Huddersfield, Lancaster University, University of Leicester, University of Liverpool, University of Manchester, University of Nottingham, Plymouth University, University of Stirling, University of Strathclyde

3. Each tranche of UK submissions is assessed by a panel of reviewers, which in this tranche consisted of:

  • Professor Sir Ivor Crewe, Master of University College Oxford and Chair of the Concordat Strategy Group
  • Guy Gregory, Director, Personnel and Staff Development Director, University of Bristol; Chair of South West region, UHR; and Member of the Concordat Strategy Group
  • Dagmar Meyer, Policy Officer - DG Research and Innovation, European Commission
  • Lee Parry, Research Associate, Cardiff University and member of the UK Research Staff Association
  • Ellen Pearce, Director, Vitae and UK representative on the EC HR Strategy Group and on behalf of the Concordat Strategy Group
  • Ellen Pugh, Senior Policy Advisor, Equality Challenge Unit

4. The award 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