A brief history of researcher development in the UK


Vitae undertakes a global survey of researcher developers to understand trends in conditions, policies and practices in researcher development.


An online ‘Platform of Practice' is launched to help to further embed the Concordat Principles.

Vitae undertakes wave 2 of the impact of Covid-19 on research and researchers survey, funded by UKRI.


Culture, Employment and Development in Academic Research Survey (CEDARS) replaces Careers in Research Online Survey (CROS) and Principal Investigators & Research Leaders Survey (PIRLS), to align with Principles of the revised Concordat

Thousands of researchers took part in the largest ever survey into experiences of research culture. which resulted in the 2020 Wellcome report 'What researchers think about the culture they work in'

Vitae undertakes wave 1 of a survey on the impact of Covid-19 on research and researchers on behalf of BEIS.


Major UK research funders sign up to the principles of the Concordat 

Revised Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, also known as the Researcher Development Concordat, is launched by the Concordat Strategy Group

Dr Janet Metcalfe, Head of Vitae, awarded OBE

Concordat Strategy Group (CSG) publish report of consultation 


Royal Society conference - Research culture: changing expectations takes place

National consultation for Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers launched

UKRI publish their strategic prospectus for delivering their vision and the Government target of 2.4% of GDP spend on research and development, which includes ‘Leading talent: Nurturing the pipeline of current and future talent’

Independent Review of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers is published

Exploring wellbeing and mental health and associated support services for postgraduate researchers commissioned by (then) Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE), in collaboration with Vitae, the Institute for Employment Studies and Ghent University 


The Concordat Strategy Group announce an independent review of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and put out a call for expert  reviewers. 

Publication of Five Steps Forward, based on successive Careers in Research Online Surveys (CROS) and Principal Investigators and Research Leaders Surveys (PIRLS)

Vitae Academic Professional Apprenticeship (APA) statement announcing standard and assessment plan published


HEFCE funded report into the provision of professional doctorates in English HE institutions. 

Vitae publishes 'What do research staff do next?', the first report on the careers of research staff who move into occupations beyond academic research. 


Paul Nurse publishes his review of the UK Research Councils in November 2015. He highlighted doctoral training, flexible working and the transition to independent researcher / early group leader. 

QAA publishes a revised Doctoral Degree Characteristics Statement describing the distinctive features of doctoral degrees in the UK. This version includes a section covering professional development for doctoral candidates and becomes a reference point for the purposes of QAA reviews conducted from 1 August 2016.

The European Commission expands the remit of EURAXESS - home to the European Charter and Code and the HR Excellence in Research Award - to provide information and services related to career development for researchers. Vitae is named as the first EURAXESS Career Development Centre (for the UK)

Vitae responds to a BIS consultation on supporting postgraduate research in England. Views from Vitae member organisations were gathered to inform the response.

The first 10 UK universities to be externally evaluated retain the HR Excellence in Research Award

Vitae introduces membership for UK and international organisations interested in researcher development on 1st January


In December the Royal Society published a set of principles and responsibilities for students, supervisory teams, careers and training services and universities on doctoral researchers' career expectations.  

Results from the 2014 Research Excellence Framework are published. UK research environments are said to have improved since the 2008 RAE, although direct comparisons are not possible due to changes in approach.

RCUK publishes a Statement of Expectations for Research Fellowships and Future Research Leaders. It details expectations of both research organisations and research fellows/future research leaders, including support for and pro-active engagement with professional and career development.

A second review of progress in implementing the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers recognises 'significant transformation' and highlights outstanding issues.

House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Women in scientific
Careers report
recommends a range of improvements to tackle the under-representation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers in the UK, particularly higher education.


RCUK publishes review of the 2013 Survey of the Impact of the Funding Change for Researcher Development, based on institutions’ future strategies for researcher development, remaining or emerging challenges and opportunities

Vitae sets out the UK position on the European Commission proposals for a certification mechanism for genuine good human resources (HR) management of researchers in Europe.

HR Strategies for Researchers: A review of the HR Excellence in Research Award implementation activities across Europe compares UK and non-UK implementation strategies and highlighted commonality in implementation, strengths and gaps against the Concordat principles.

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework
process includes review of the research environment. Funding Council guidance includes reference to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and required institutions to provide information on career development opportunities, and equality and diversity.

RCUK publish their Statement of expectation for doctoral training (updated 2015), requiring a programme of professional development activities for their funded doctoral candidates.

Transforming professional development for researchers: Vitae achievements and impact 2008-12 highlights developments over the five years of the Vitae contract. Vitae contract is extended to March 2015, focusing on the professional development of research staff and achieving sustainability beyond the new contract.


The Vitae Researcher Development Framework Planner is launched, to enable individual researchers to review their capabilities, plan and evidence their professional development, access institutional development resources and record evidence and achievements.

A Three-year review of the implementation of the principles of the Concordat to
Support the Career Development of Researchers
highlights that ‘the intention to implement the principles of the Concordat is now widespread in institutions, and the corresponding infrastructure is increasingly in place’. 

Measures of progress for the Concordat are published to define progress against each of the Concordat principles drawing primarily on CROS, PIRLS, HESA and HR Excellence in Research data.

Review of the UK implementation of the HR Excellence in Research Awards process, benefits to institutions and next steps is published by Vitae.

Impact Framework 2012: Revisiting the Rugby Team Impact Framework  updates the Impact Framework for evaluating researcher development.

The Wilson review of business-university collaboration identifies that there is still ‘a distinct disconnect between the aspirations of research students and the reality of their future career pathways’.

UK Quality Code for Higher Education, Chapter B11: Research degrees incorporates the Vitae Researcher Development Statement as a policy reference document. This replaces the previous QAA Code of Practice for research degrees.


End of ‘ring-fenced” Roberts money to universities. The UK government provided approximately £120m over the eight years (2003-2011) of Roberts money provided through RCUK.

Every Researcher Counts: equality and diversity in researcher careers in higher education’, a Vitae project funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England with support from the other funding bodies.  

Independent Review of progress in implementing the recommendations of Sir Gareth Roberts, regarding employability and career development of PhD students and research staff (Hodge Review) published, which recommended ‘Vitae should continue their activities, particularly in enabling the sharing of best practice, but increasingly expand their role as an intermediary between the HE sector and employers and other relevant stakeholders’.

RCUK response to the Hodge Review published

Analysis of university responses on career development and transferable skills training and changes in 2010/11 published by RCUK.


Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF) and Researcher Development Statement (RDS) launched. The RDS is endorsed by 34 organisations including the major research funders.  

RCUK statement of expectations for doctoral training
  published, which expects research organisations and funding bodies to include researcher development in their normal practice and policies.  

The first European and UK organisations awarded the HR Excellence in Research Award. UK organisations do this through the Vitae managed process. 

Smith Postgraduate Review, One Step Beyond: Making the most of postgraduate education published, which highlights the need to do more to ensure that the UK postgraduate sector remains internationally competitive. It recommended that recommended that “HEIs should work closely with Vitae, employers and other stakeholders to provide better information, advice and guidance on career choices for postgraduate research students”.

UK Research Staff Association (UKRSA) launched, with support from Vitae. It works with around 60 institutional research staff associations and regional networks.



Vitae succeeds the UKGRAD Programme in June 2008, broadening its remit to include research staff employed in higher education and funded by RCUK and the UK funding bodies.

Rugby Team Impact Framework (updated 2012) published at Vitae conference September 2008

The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers launched in June 2008 and signed by Universities UK and the major research funders.


The European Commission acknowledges the UK higher education sector’s collective signatory to the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers, which are implemented through the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) Quality Code for research degree programmes and the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.


Warry Report: Increasing the Economic impact of the Research Councils published, which recommended that the UK Research Councils should expand incentives for researchers to participate in knowledge transfer, increase two-way secondments between the research base and business and make enterprise training widely available for researchers in all disciplines.

Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) pilot report published by the HEA. This survey now runs every two years across the UK.


European Code and Charter launched at a UK Presidency conference.

The network of eight regional Hubs completed, representing all UK universities.   

The Rugby Team (now the Impact and Evaluation Group), a sector-led working group created and supported by Vitae to evaluate the impact of researcher development and researcher careers.


Science and Innovation Framework 2004-2014 published, which included aims to foster scientific talent and improving the attractiveness of careers in higher education.
QAA Code of Practice, Section 1: Postgraduate research programmes published, updating the previous 1999 Code of Practice. This included the Research Councils/AHRB Skills training requirements for research students (commonly known as the Joint Skills Statement) as a policy reference document.


Universities and Research Councils UK received funding (approximately £20M annually) from the UK Government to implement the recommendations in SET for Success relating to postgraduate researchers and research staff (commonly known as the Roberts’ money). Institutional money was ring-fenced for researcher development activities.



Research Councils/AHRB Skills training requirements for research students (commonly known as the Joint Skills Statement) published, which described the range of skills and attributes expected of doctoral graduates.

Prior to 2000