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University of Reading - Universities HR Strategic Enhancement Programme

The context for the project

The University of Reading’s commitment to achieving close alignment with the UKPSF at an institutional level and making this central to the institutional vision and strategies therein is reflected in the fourth strand of University Learning and Teaching Strategy 2013-18.  In addition the previous HR Strategy (2010-2014) had as part of it a “Promoting Excellence Project” (PEP) to review the arrangements for reward and career progression for all staff.

The University of Reading had also recently agreed its new overall University Strategy to 2026.  One of the main strategic themes being led by HR is to develop the organisational culture. The intended focus of this work includes: 

  • Enabling the necessary changes to our working culture at all levels to foster more agile enterprising and business-like ways of operating and to be more responsive to changing demands;
  • Supporting change through a programme of organisational development embracing training career progression and opportunities for engagement with new initiatives making the University a rewarding place to work;
  • Reviewing the University's Charter Statutes and Ordinances to enable more agile governance;
  • Reviewing and implementing approaches for supporting equality & diversity.

The strategic enhancement programme was therefore very timely and complements the work we have done to further embed and make more transparent to staff our “clear whole institutional approach to embedding the UKPSF in a range of approaches and policies including reward and promotion” (feedback from HEA accreditation panel on the University of Reading’s FLAIR CPD Framework in 2013).

The areas developed

The University of Reading welcomed the opportunity to take part in the first set of HEA Strategic Enhancement Projects: Staff Transitions and Career Progression with the aim of further embedding the UKPSF in a number of HR policies and processes during 2015. Participating in the 2015 and 2016 projects has been hugely beneficial for the University not only fostering closer working relationships between HR and Academic Staff Development colleagues but also providing opportunities for networking and sharing valuable insights and experience with colleagues.

One advantage of participation was that it prompted conversations (some easy and some hard) with a range of colleagues and groups across the University about embedding the principles of the UKPSF and in particular about raising the profile and promoting our HEA accredited CPD scheme. Another benefit of the project was consultancy support from the HEA. We used this to run a bespoke development day to encourage and support those in leadership roles across the University such as Deans and Heads of School in developing applications for Fellowship. As key individuals gained Principal or Senior Fellowship of the HEA we used their positive feedback to champion the scheme. We also ran a workshop session for HR Partners and Advisors on the UKPSF and the FLAIR framework to help embed the UKPSF in the language of HR. Further outcomes of our involvement in the scheme are the launch of a Graduate Teaching scheme and changes to promotion criteria.

For the first time PhD students will have formal contracts of employment as GTAs requiring them to undertake the first part of our taught academic practice programme which enables them to obtain Associate Fellowship of the HEA on completion. For 2015/2016 we introduced the requirement for any candidate on a Teaching or Teaching and Research contract seeking promotion to Associate Professor or Professor to have at least Fellowship of the HEA at D2 or equivalent prior to promotion. New processes and criteria for academic promotion are in development; these include a single flexible pathway for all academics regardless of contract type and much clearer statements for the evidence required to demonstrate strength of contribution in teaching and supporting learning underpinned by the UKPSF. Aside from making sure that the new process and criteria work effectively in practice we will extend this work in 2016/2017 to cover Professorial zone expectations and to embed the UKPSF in the University’s values and Professional Behaviours.