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10 September 2010
Cardiff University is among the first to be recognised by the European Commission for its efforts in improving the working conditions and career development opportunities for its researchers.
Only ten higher education institutions in the UK have been awarded the ‘HR Excellence in Research’ accreditation for demonstrating a commitment to, and progress towards implementing, the European Charter and Code for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers.
Professor Graham Hutchings, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research said: "Researchers at Cardiff University make a significant contribution to knowledge creation and innovation. The University's world-leading reputation would not be possible without the commitment of our staff and the University is pleased that our continuing efforts to improve how we support our researchers in developing their skills and careers has been recognised in this way."
The University’s Positive Working Environment initiative provides an overall framework for promoting a culture in which all staff are recognised and valued. This is supported at Cardiff by other initiatives specifically designed to support research staff in their career development, including a tailored skills development programme for research staff, which includes workshops covering more than 130 topics relevant to researchers and access to independent career coaching
Recent years have also seen a focus on the development of research team leaders within the University, and on raising awareness of the responsibilities of those managing research staff.
The accreditation system was designed by the European Commission to provide researchers across Europe with a clear way of identifying those employers which are committed to creating a favourable working environment for researchers. In addition to the ten UK HEIs only 12 other European institutions have been recognised by the European Commission to date.
Dr Isabelle Durance undertakes research on the ecological impact of climate change within the School of Biosciences. She is also the mother of four children, the youngest of whom is five years old. A fellowship from the Daphne Jackson Trust, a charitable organisation whose Fellowship scheme supports women returning to careers in science or engineering, combined with support from the University led to Isabelle’s current appointment as a Leverhulme fellow. Dr Durance feels that career support at Cardiff has enabled her to find a positive work-life balance.
"Having previously worked in France as a lecturer, I returned to work last year, following the latest in a series of career breaks to raise my children. It is easy to feel like a stranger when you are away from academia for any length of time, so the support I’ve had from my colleagues here has been really important. The administrative staff in particular have been so helpful.
"My fellowships have allowed me to come back to work, initially part-time and now full-time. This has been great in allowing a gradual return to my research work whilst also having the flexibility to be around for my youngest child.
"The fact that Cardiff University supports researchers in this way is a sign to me that it is committed, in a very practical way, to equal opportunities and to the positive working environment.
"I adore my children and am also very passionate about my work. I am extremely grateful to be able to devote time to both, which allows me to feel fulfilled both personally and professionally."
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