UK universities lead Europe in gaining recognition from the European Commission for researcher development

UK higher education institutions gain recognition from the European Commission this week for their commitment to ensuring good working conditions and career development for researchers.

‘I am delighted to announce that thirteen UK institutions have been awarded the ‘HR Excellence in Research' badge by the European Commission for their work to implement the UK Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. It is right that as we put research at the heart of our plans for future prosperity, we prioritise the development of excellent researchers able to capitalise on the impact of that research. ' David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science.

There are now 23 UK institutions compared to just fifteen other European universities to have the 'HR Excellence in Research' badge.

The UK institutions to gain the ‘HR Excellence in Research' badge are Aberdeen, Aberystwyth, Bristol, Cambridge, De Montfort, Glasgow, Hertfordshire, Leeds, London School of Economics, Loughborough, Edinburgh Napier, Swansea and the Institute of Cancer Research.  They join the universities of Aston, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Heriot-Watt, Newcastle, Queen Margaret University (Edinburgh), Reading, Salford and York.

The European Commission initiative aims to encourage a step-change in the way that universities across Europe recruit, manage and develop researchers. In the UK, institutions can demonstrate their alignment with the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for their Recruitment through their implementation of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers which was launched in 2008.

‘The Concordat was launched with explicit recognition that research is crucially important to the UK - not just to the success of our academic institutions, but to the growth of our economy and society. Two years after the launch of the Concordat it is clear that UK institutions are putting in place policies and structures to ensure that research staff employment conditions and career development are central to university strategies. However, there remain some serious challenges for sustaining the research workforce in higher education, not least the importance of providing frameworks for career progression within an increasingly competitive environment of short term, and uncertain, funding.'

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

‘We are delighted that UK universities are receiving international recognition for their work to develop researcher careers. Over the last few years we've seen real progress in the way that universities train and develop researchers. From a recent survey we know that 70% of universities have embarked on an implementation programme to update their policies and practice. The challenge now is to maintain progress given the changes in researcher development funding.  We hope that many other UK institutions will gain the recognition from the European Commission for their work.'

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