HR Excellence

HR Excellence in Research Initiative

The University of Surrey is a proud participant in the HR Excellence in Research initiative and has held this prestigious badge since January 2012. HR Excellence in Research recognises the University of Surrey’s commitment to the Principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the European Charter and Code for Researchers.

The HR Excellence in Research process requires an institution to engage with early career researchers (ECRs) and other stakeholders, to reflect on practice and support of ECRs, and to identify specific actions to enhance the experience and career progression of these researchers. It is a journey of continual progress, inspiring universities to progressively improve year on year, with peer review taking place every two years. The HR Excellence badge is increasingly expected by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and EU funders, and is recognised by research collaborators and job applicants as an indicator of good practice in the support and development of our early career researchers.

In the UK, the HR Excellence in Research process focuses on the seven Principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers (please refer to Understanding the Concordat Principles below), which have been identified as best practice for the employment of researchers at any level. However, the Concordat’s emphasis is on early career researchers (ECRs), primarily those who are on fixed-term contracts linked to external research funding. Within the action plan (please refer to 2018-2020 HR Excellence Submission below) for the HR Excellence in Research initiative at the University of Surrey we have a broad and inclusive definition for the term ECR; this includes a range of contract types due to the diversity of research active disciplines at Surrey. We are committed to supporting ECRs with the transition stages of their career, whether that is to another fixed-term contract, a new role at Surrey or in a different Higher Education Institution, or to move to other sectors of employment outside of academia.  Furthermore, we ensure our researchers are valued and treated equally, regardless of contract type and career trajectory (within or outside of academia). Our HR Excellence action (please refer to 2018-2020 HR Excellence Submission below) plan has identified actions important for all ECRs, as well as specific actions to ensure equitable recognition and support of sub-groups of ECRs, such as those of fixed-term contracts.

We have made great progress over the last two years, with key accomplishments outlined in our updated 2016-2018 Action Plan

2016-2018 Action Plan.pdf

and highlighted in our 2018 Report on Progress

2018 Progress Report.pdf

Through a combination of actions carried forward and new actions developed we have created a new 2018-2020 Action Plan to drive forward progress based on ECR feedback.

2018-2020 Action Plan.pdf

The following is a complete collection of all previous action plans and reports to illustrate the University of Surrey’s HR Excellence in Research journey.

2014-2016 Action Plan.pdf

2014_2yr Report.pdf

2012-2016 4yr Report.pdf 

Who do the principles of the concordat apply to?

In the preface of the concordat it states: “We recognise that researchers in Higher Education and research institutions constitute a diverse group, including postgraduate students, research-only employees on short-term projects, part-time staff, lecturers and professors with a range of duties including research. The principles set out here apply equally to any member of staff engaged in research, and provide a framework of good practice for the management of all researchers and their careers.

Nevertheless, the focus of this document is on employees engaged principally to undertake research, the majority of whom are necessarily supported by fixed-term project funding. Despite progress made since the Concordat of 1996, this group is still rendered vulnerable by the uncertainty of research funding. The aim of this Concordat is to ensure maximum benefit to the researcher, their employing organisations and the research base during their period of employment as researchers in higher education and research institutions, recognising that this may be only part of a much longer career track.

What are the seven principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers?

Principle 1

Recognition of the importance of recruiting, selecting and retaining researchers with the highest potential to achieve excellence in research.

Principle 2

Researchers are recognised and valued by their employing organisation as an essential part of their organisations Human Resources and a key component of their overall strategy to develop and deliver world class research.

Principle 3

Researchers are equipped and supported to be adaptable and flexible in an increasingly diverse, mobile, global research environment.

Principle 4

The importance of researcher's personal and career development, and lifelong learning, is clearly recognised and promoted at all stages of their career.

Principle 5

Individual researchers share the responsibility for and need to pro-actively engage in their own personal and career development, and lifelong learning.

Principle 6

Diversity and equality must be promoted in all aspects of the recruitment and career management of researchers.

Principle 7

The sector and all stakeholders will undertake regular and collective review of their progress in strengthening the attractiveness and sustainability of research careers in the UK.

Who are the signatories of the Concordat?

The signatories of this Concordat are:

Universities UK, Research Councils UK, The Royal Society, The British Academy, The Royal Academy of Engineering, The Wellcome Trust, Higher Education Funding Council for England, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, The Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council, Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland, The National Institute for Health Research, The Department of Health Scottish Government Health Directorates, British Heart Foundation, Technology Strategy Board, GuildHE

The HR Excellence in Research Working Group consists of representatives from all faculties and  key operational areas including Doctoral College (DC), Researcher Development Programme (RDP),  Human Resources, Employability and Careers, Equality and Diversity, and Research and Innovation Services along with ECR representation from each faculty (inclusive of different ECR contract types) and from the Surrey Research Staff Association (SuRSA). This committee meets quarterly and welcomes input from any ECR, or member of staff involved in supporting ECRs. If you have questions, comments, feedback or would like to become active in supporting the University of Surrey’s HR Excellence in Research initiative, please email the chair of the working group, Dr Dawn Duke,

Throughout the year, we will sponsor events, opportunities and seminars aimed at supporting and recognising ECRs contribution to the University’s research culture. These include engagement activities, such as ‘Have Your Say’ sessions; interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral networking sessions, funding opportunities and seminars highlighting the work of our ECRs. Furthermore, in September we will celebrate ‘Postdoc Appreciation Week’, and in November, ‘Academic Writing Month’. Please see the RDP Events webpage and the Doctoral College website for information about the variety of activities available; all are welcome. Feel free to email with feedback on events or ideas for new events,

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Doctoral College
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University of Surrey