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Bangor University - Universities HR Strategic Enhancement Programme

The context for the programme

A guiding principal in the development of the institution’s Continuing Professional Development Framework (which was accredited jointly with Aberystwyth University) was one of embedding it strategically through explicit links to their promotion framework. The HEA accreditation letter commended “The clear and strong joint institutional strategic commitment to the operation and success of the scheme”.

In line with ongoing commitments Bangor was undertaking work institutionally to further examine and develop means by which the CPD Framework can enhance academic career progression. Their alignment mechanism besides having Fellowship/PgCertHE as a probationary requirement ensured that the criteria for teaching evidence for promotion at Senior Lecturer level was aligned to Senior Fellowship descriptors of the UKPSF although holding a SFHEA itself was not a requirement.

At the start of the project they were wishing to explore mechanisms which ensured that the achievements of staff reflected in their engagement with the UKPSF in gaining HEA Fellowships are rewarded through more explicit links to all levels and routes of the promotion scheme. One of the aspects to be explored here is the meaning and role of the scholarship of teaching and learning which was considered key to reflecting the University’s values with regard to evidence – informed teaching across the board and expressed commonly within all contractual arrangements which involve teaching.

They had already established a strategic working group (Bangor CPD Steering Group) which was guiding initial scoping and monitoring of this work. Bangor was interested in participating in the HEA programme because they felt that their approaches would be best informed by working collaboratively in a UK-wide partnership to help define and develop benchmarks for the sector. As collaborative working is a particular feature of Welsh HEIs they hoped to bring the Wales-wide network of experience to this project.

The areas intended for development

Developing the HR pay and promotion policies with respect to recognising and rewarding the achievement of staff in gaining HEA Fellowships.

This involved reviewing the criteria as expressed at the start of the project and ensuring better alignment between the narratives required within the UKPSF and those required to fulfil the teaching and scholarship aspects of the promotion framework. Incremental payments also potentially applied and there were and still are diverse practices in this regard across the sector. Participating in the HEA project was intended to help locate and develop fair and inclusive practices.

Developing HR policies regarding rewarding postgraduate teaching assistants and part–time staff.

This is a problematic area UK-wide and is an essential stage to establish as it is arguably the most impactful means of establishing expectations of an academic career. It can certainly cement or undermine formation of professional academic practice with regard to teaching and learning in Higher Education. This project could make a significant contribution to UK-wide policy and create better articulation between the UKPSF and the Researcher Development Framework.

Developing understandings and definitions of the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Whilst all HEIs are required to express a definition of scholarship in this area it is by no means clear that these definitions subscribe to any one concept or set of literature on the subject. There is still a confusion between definitions of ‘research’ and ‘scholarship’. There is much debate about what counts as evidence for this core aspect of knowledge in the UKPSF. The University were working to current HEA guidance on this but wanted to reduce scope for inconsistency. They aimed to offer more robust and well-founded guidance given within promotion schemes and felt that this would – whilst remaining flexible- relate to UK-wide benchmarks and be consistent to that given to colleagues applying for HEA Fellowships.

Developing a mechanism for maintaining good standing within the CPD Framework.

At the start of the project the University’s mechanism for maintaining good standing relied on discussions recorded within CPD sections of annual Performance Development Reviews (PDRs). They were at the point of developing an on-line PDR and the opportunity to review this section had arisen. Participation in the HEA project was timely and and allowed them to contribute and be informed by sector-wide development.