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The challenges for academic progression - are we there yet?

02 Sep 2019 | Professor Sally Bradley Ahead of Advance HE’s Academic Career Progression Symposium, 3 December 2019, Professor Sally Bradley, Advance HE Academic Lead for Professional Learning and Development, explores the challenges.

How do we retain and develop academics in turbulent times with conflicting demands – research, teaching, administration, civic and external engagement, REF, TEF and KEF?  And what of those staff with vocational skills and knowledge who have joined academia from relevant industries, how is their experience rewarded and recognised?

How do we develop skilled managers of academics? How do new leaders gain their experience to manage Departments and budgets?  This is very different to leading a team though validation or writing the research bid, especially if heads of Departments are appointed on rotation. What prior experience is required in promotion criteria?

These are questions which academic staff, HR professionals and leaders in higher education are wrestling with for some time. Advance HE, and its forming organisations have been working on these themes for many years: through the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and the Higher Education Academy and Equality Challenge Unit. This symposium will be an opportunity to bring together knowledge and practice from the sector as well as research and resources from our former organisations.

For example, the symposium will build on the Universities HR Strategic Enhancement Project: Career progression and staff transitions strategic enhancement programme, the Guiding Principles for rewarding and recognition of teaching, and the earlier work by the late Professor Annette Cashmore and colleagues in the Promoting Teaching Project:

And there are a host of other Advance HE resources and available publications – brought together by our merger – on career development and research and publications on progression.  Guild HE has also undertaken research into Practice Informed Learning; The Rise of the Dual Professional.

In this symposium, we will look at the different milestones in an academic career, from early career and new to teaching, through to the management of programme and courses, heads of department and senior university leaders. Each holds its challenges for individuals and those responsible for supporting career progression. How do we support staff to make the right choices?  Does talent management have a place in academic careers? What is academic “talent” and how is it recognised and rewarded? Where do teaching professoriates fit in career progression, what is the basis for this?
The symposium will include invited keynote sessions, participant-led workshops and presentations, and a closing plenary, the event will offer insights into current practice and explore talent management, career planning and equality of opportunities from the sector. 
The symposium will address the following themes:

  • Early career academics, colleagues with dual identities and part time staff
  • Transition into management
  • Move into (and out of) educational leadership
  • Professoriate and parity of esteem of the different routes.

The aim of this symposium is to provide an open and supportive environment within which to share and discuss contemporary interventions and initiatives in the field of academic career progression. The event will appeal especially to academic leaders with responsibility for staff and their development, staff development community, HR and ODHE professionals within higher education.

Bookings for the Academic Career Progression Symposium are open. 

This one day symposium will take place in York on 3 December 2019, from 9.30 to 16.30.


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