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Q: What do the Research Councils Recommend?
A: That most staff funded by a UK Research Council on fixed term funding are able to develop their individual career paths by engaging in a balanced portfolio of transferable skills training and career development of at least 10 days per year. Other research staff are encouraged to develop their portfolio of skills in a similar way.
The new Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers is more wide-ranging and covers all Research Staff and staff with fixed-term research-based funding. The Concordat is still in the implementation stage and the reporting and metrics are not yet clear, but will cover a similar audit of training and development, but for all Research Staff (and others with research-based fixed-term funding)
Further consideration of whether the practice is appropriate for funding with 'Roberts' money should address two questions:
The Research Careers and Diversity Strategy (www.rcuk.ac.uk/rescareer/strategy.htm) notes that additional skills may include knowledge transfer, quantitative methods, inter-disciplinarity, entrepreneurship, participation in RCUK's Researchers in Residence scheme, engagement with public and schools.
So whilst the emphasis for research students is on employability, the focus for research and research related staff is more on career planning and using this to identify appropriate development and training.
A: Following the Roberts' Report the Research Councils provide a skills training supplement (often known as 'Roberts' money') proportional to the number of early career grade staff they are supporting, and this is administered by OSD. There are further background details on the Research Councils "Career Development and Skills Training for Research Students and Researchers" site which starts at www.rcuk.ac.uk/rescareer/rcdu/training.htm. The Research Councils also require an annual report on this.
Q: Who is covered by the Roberts' Agenda?
A: UK Research Council funded members of staff on early-career grades (around Grade 7 or RAIA or equivalent - at any time to any FTE fraction over the year 01 Oct to 30 Sep in question) working on a fixed-term project.
Research Council's UK have updated their guidance and as a result there are minor changes to those who are covered by the Roberts' Agenda. The Research Councils insist that Roberts' support is provided to all appropriate staff, as outlined below.
The original intention of the Roberts' Review, the thrust of "The Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of less favourable treatment) Regulations 2002", the new Concordat, and particularly the UK Research Councils; is to support early career staff with fixed-term funding. So these may not necessarily all be 'Research Staff' but might also include some technical staff, computing staff and others. The key tests are:
If the answers to the above are yes, then staff are currently covered by the Roberts' Agenda and need to complete and report on a 10 days per annum (pro rata) balanced portfolio of transferable skills training and career development.
If you are funded from any other source, fixed-term and research-based , then that funder may give money to support your training, to your department or P.I., and in any case you will be encouraged to follow a similar scheme, and to adhere to the new Concordat.
If you are a full time Postgraduate Researcher (M.Phil., Ph.D. or M.Res.) then the Graduate School provide your support in this area.
If you are both a part-time Postgraduate Researcher AND a part-time or full-time member of staff then you need to fulfill both the requirements as a part-time student (which are covered by the Graduate School) AND the requirements as a member of staff.
A: The current year is 01 Oct 2010 to 30 Sep 2011, so the final deadline to record this will be 15 Oct 2011. However it is much easier to record this as you go along so please see www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/osd/recording/index.php
Please do not add events in the future to your self-directed training. For obvious reasons training can only be added retrospectively, and the system is not set up to deal with planned events for the future.
The requirement is pro rata across the year - as determined by 10 x fte per week x fraction of the year.
Examples: if you were working half time across the entire year then your requirement would be 5 days [10 x 0.5 x 1.0]; if you were working full time but only for three months of the year then your requirement would be 2.5 days [10 x 1.0 x (3/12)]; and if you were working 3.5 days a week over 9.5 months of the year your requirement would be 5.5 days [10 x (3.5/5) x (9.5/12)]. You may wish to view our Ready Reckoner
If your period as a member of staff covered by the Roberts agenda ends before the end of the year (30 Sep 2011), then you should complete your training record before you leave.
Q: How should I know about this?
A: Your PI (Principal Investigator) or line manager should have told you about this. It is highlighted in grant applications to all research councils.
We have made staff aware through our website, emails (to their official verified UCL E-mail address - as detailed at www.ucl.ac.uk/directory/ ) and letters.
When anyone is awarded a research grant from a UK Research Council this is in the small print. The Research Councils UK pages "Career Development and Skills Training for Research Students and Researchers." starting at www.rcuk.ac.uk/rescareer/rcdu/training.htm are particularly rich in details.
Q: How do I log in and record my training?
A: A guideline on how to view and add Information via the Learning Event Recording System can be found at: www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/osd/recording/guidelines.php
Q: What if I get an error message?
A: Please report any errors by email to Liz Morris. Please include a brief description of the problem, the URL of the page where it occurred and the browser you are using to access the page.
Q: What do I record?
A: This should be a balanced portfolio of transferable skills training and career development. Basically all we need in the record is a title of the event, a provider, duration, date, selection from a drop-down menu for the media type and the course type, and that's it.
Please do not add events in the future to your self-directed training.
All centrally provided UCL workshops from the Organisational and Staff Development (OSD), CALT, Information Systems, UCL Careers or Safety Services are added to your records automatically. There is no need to add these yourself.
For information about activities / workshops you can take part in please see the section What is available to support this? In addition visit the Vitae Portal - Vitae provides resources, advice and information for individual members of research staff who are interested in their professional development and careers.
To repeat: this is NOT about 10 days training courses. We feel that research staff can take care of their own development and take it beyond what is mandatory from the research councils therefore we've tried not to be prescriptive.
This should NOT be a record of your research work, although it might be related to your research work where it clearly contributes to transferable skills or career development - such as learning new general techniques which provide transferable skills and possibly items that contribute towards communications or networking, or an 'out of culture' experience such as attending a conference abroad
What about conferences?
Roberts funding is appropriate for preparation and debriefing activities to maximise skills development from attendance at conferences, but other sources of funding should be used for fees and expenses. The Research Councils have funding streams to support conference attendance and 'Roberts' payments do not replace these. An exception to this is attendance at the UCL Research Staff Conference, which is free to all UCL Staff Members, where attendance will contribute 1 Roberts Day towards your target.
Financial Assistance for Short External Training Courses for Staff covered by the Roberts Agenda will not be given for attendance, travel or accommodation for subject-specific conferences - there are elements for that in grants. The Research Councils have also recently reiterated that Roberts money is not for A or B (Research Skills & Techniques or Research Environment) sections of the "Joint Statement of Skills Training Requirements of Research Postgraduates (2001).
Q: What does 'self directed' mean?
A: Self directed just means 'Training booked or undertaken independently'. It is irrelevant whether anything is self study or not - although of course to contribute to a Roberts' target it needs to be part of a balanced portfolio of transferable skills training and career development.
Q: I've attended a workshop so why can't I see it on my online training record?
A: All centrally provided UCL workshops from the Organisational and Staff Development (OSD), Centre for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching (CALT), Information Systems (IS), UCL Careers or Safety Services should be added to your records automatically. There is no need to add these yourself.
During peak periods there may be a delay before the workshop appears in your record. If the details of any workshop you have attended are not in your records within one month of the event, please E-mail the appropriate provider.
For all training and development provided by a source other than the central UCL units listed above, your Departmental Administrator will add any departmental training, and you should add anything further yourself to your own training record
Q: What is my correct e-mail address?
A: The e-mail address we use is the one registered in the official verified UCL directory. So please go to www.ucl.ac.uk/directory/ and check your entry
If that has an incorrect e-mail address please would you be sure to get this corrected in the UCL directory as soon as possible, because that will be the e-mail address to which most of your official UCL e-mail is sent. For more information about E-mail please go to the Information Systems webpage: www.ucl.ac.uk/is/email/
Q: What is the difference between the student and staff approaches to skills training?
A: There are differences in the Research Councils' approaches to staff and students, so this question may be particularly relevant to those who have recently come up through the UCL Graduate School system or similar and are wondering how the staff system differs.
RCUK's overall approach for all early career researchers, both research students and research staff, is based on developing researchers' skills at the level of individual needs.
Researchers arrive at UCL with differing skills sets, and as they advance through their research career it is necessary to both accrue new skills and enhance existing skills portfolios. Research staff, particularly if they have come through the UCL Graduate School Skills Development Programme (or similar), might find that they are already at an advanced level with regards to some areas. The Staff Development and Training programme for research staff has been developed to engage with individuals' skills at whatever level they might be. Different opportunities are available compared to the research student programme; exploring personal and career development from a staff perspective and learning alongside other research staff will also be a necessarily different process.
There is also a different set of relationships and responsibilities between a Higher Education Institution and a student or member of staff. Staff are employees and the entire gamut of employment legislation, custom and practice etc. also needs to be considered.
Research students at UCL use the key self-development tool of the Research Student Log; their skills development needs are analysed in dialogue with their Supervisory team. Research staff are also encouraged to plot their continuing development programme. As members of UCL staff, this process is supported by line managers and by induction, probation, the Staff Review and Development Scheme, Organisational and Staff Development, Careers Service etc.
There are some people who are both staff and UCL Research students. In this situation, individuals need to consider the training needs of both their roles and ensure that they pursue a commensurate amount of skills training.
Q: What is available to support this?
A: We have an entire site of courses applicable to research staff - see www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/osd/research/programme/
Beyond the workshops above, you should certainly look to the entire programme from OSD: including a wide range of courses under each of the categories of:
Anything provided by:
However you should certainly also consider other items such as:
Further Staff Development Opportunities for Research Staff:
Beyond the list above, anything else which demonstrably contributes to a balanced portfolio of transferable skills training and career development should be recorded - until you get to at least the mandatory minimum (10 days per annum per fte - pro rata) please.
For 2008/9 generally the sum of all claims for normal research work or for any one single item should be not more than 30% of the total (e.g. 3 days maximum for a full fte from learning new techniques, out-of-culture experiences - like attending a conference abroad etc. in the research area).
The Research Councils' guidance is clear that Roberts agenda money is for new and additional expenditure: one litmus test is: is this part of the normal research work? Roberts money for staff is not for attendance, travel or accommodation for subject-specific conferences - there are elements for that in grants.
As so obviously the recording should reflect all this guidance above - if it is a normal part of research work it is not covered by the Roberts' agenda. The Research Councils are looking for a balanced portfolio of transferable skills training and career development.
Q: Is there any carry forward or carry backwards of credit or debit of training days?
A: No. If you have done less than 10 days or more than 10 days (pro rata) in 2010/11 there is no facility to take that forwards and do more or less in 2011/12.
Please do not add events in the future to your self-directed training. This should only be recorded when the training has been completed, the system is not set up to deal with planned events for the future.
Q: What if I leave before the end of the academic year?
A: You need to complete and record your training pro rata. So you need to do at least the minimum number of days in proportion to the fraction you worked over the year.
For example if you have been full time since 01 Oct 2010 or earlier, and you finished on 30 June 2011 then you need to complete and report on 7.5 days minimum (you would have completed 9 months so your minimum is 9/12 x 10 days).
You just complete your training record in the usual way before you leave, and we will compile your record into the reports for the Research Councils (noting that your minimum requirement was pro rata).
Examples: if you were working full time but only for three months of the year then your requirement would be 2.5 days [10 x 1.0 x (3/12)]; and if you were working 3.5 days a week over 9.5 months of the year your requirement would be 5.5 days [10 x (3.5/5) x (9.5/12)]. You may wish to view our Ready Reckoner
23 November, 2011