The HR Excellence in Research Award is a European Commission award that is considered equivalent to implementing the principles of the European Charter and Code for Researchers. It is an internationally recognized award that highlights our commitment to implementing fair and transparent recruitment and appraisal procedures, making our university more attractive to international and national research talent.
This award is now mapped to the revised (2019) Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers (Researcher Development Concordat), which the University of Bath signed in January 2020. This latest renewal of the award after a 10-year review highlights our progress in supporting early career researchers and our ambitions to tackling the key challenges that research staff face in the current, challenging circumstances.
Some key achievements since our last award renewal have also been highlighted, such as increased research staff representation on relevant departmental committees, including research, health and safety, and EDI, in 13 out 16 departments. Additionally, there has been a significant increase in the number of research staff who reported being offered a departmental-level induction (82%) in 2021 compared with 56% in 2019. This is overseen at the departmental level by Departmental Research Staff Coordinators.
Furthermore, the Academic Career Academy continues to prepare research staff for a lectureship position. Since 2017, 66 RS have attended this programme, inclusive of the current 2021 cohort. Of those researchers who have completed the Academy, 42% have obtained a lectureship position or independent fellowship, with 9 being promoted at University of Bath.
This award required an action plan (2021-23), which was praised by the review panel as targeted and comprehensive. This action plan aligns with the Institutional Silver Athena SWAN (AS) action plan (2021) and departmental AS action plans, Research Strategy, and Vision for Research Staff.
Key strategic aims in the 2021-23 action plan are (1) building a more inclusive and connected community of RS that are integrated into the university; (2) improving the career progression for RS within and beyond University of Bath; and (3) championing the management of RS.
Priority actions for these aims are to: (1) Create sustainable research staff networks across all faculties; (2) establish a working group to make recommendations to improve the career progression of researchers and reduce the use of fixed-term contracts for these roles; and (3) celebrate good management practice using research staff and managers’ voices in case studies.
Professors Davide Mattia and Julie Barnett, acting Pro-Vice Chancellors (Research), said: “We are delighted to hear this news. Retaining the HR Excellence in Research Award demonstrates our commitment to recruiting, developing and retaining the best researchers at University of Bath. Our University of Bath Strategy 2021–26 aligns with the three Researcher Development Concordat principles, which recognise the importance of research staff and their role in the University of Bath community, and creating a positive research culture where everyone feels heard. This award is tribute to the collective effort of academic and professional services staff from across the university in creating an ambitious action plan, which we support.”
Professor Petra Cameron and Dr Sam Neale, co-Chairs of the Research Staff Working Group, said: “We are pleased that our progress in supporting research staff career progression has been recognised by Vitae and the EU. The University of Bath 2021-23 Action Plan is ambitious, but we support the university in focusing on finding solutions to the current challenges that face research staff. The Research Staff Working Group are committed to both engaging with the change needed to enhance research staff support and to holding the university accountable for their progress as we move forward.”