I want to state unequivocally how much the University values the work of technicians. A world-leading university is dependent upon world-leading technicians and this is what we have at St Andrews. I know your work is demanding and can be carried out in isolation and without the laurels that an academic career sometimes offers; it is valued by us all and as we look forward initiatives like the Action Plan are part of making sure that this value is recognised and made visible.
Professor Sally Mapstone
Principal & Vice-Chancellor
The University of St Andrews is a signatory of the Technician Commitment. This is a university and research institution initiative, led by a steering group of sector bodies, with support from the Science Council and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation’s Technicians Make It Happen campaign.
The Commitment aims to ensure visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians working in higher education and research, across all disciplines. Signatories of the Technician Commitment pledge action against the key challenges affecting their technical staff. The St Andrews action plan can be viewed using the link below.
- TCI Action Plan 2021-24 (Excel, 22 KB)
For further information and resources please visit the Technician Commitment webpages.
The hidden REF competition
The hidden REF competition will recognise all contributions to research. To make sure that we include everyone, we will start with the non-publication categories of output used by the REF but, over the course of the next few months, allow anyone who works in research to suggest categories that have previously been overlooked. If these are popular with the research community, they will be adopted by the hidden REF.
From July 2020, anyone who works in a UK public institution that conducts research (e.g. universities and research laboratories) can submit an output to the hidden REF. Submissions will typically involve a 300 word summary of the output, although more details will be released as we gain a better understanding of the output categories. The submissions will be judged by panels of experts drawn from the research community.
The hidden REF is challenging preconceptions about which roles are important in research – and this is no small task. Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can help. You can raise recognition of the hidden REF at your organisation and on social media. You can contribute to the campaign by volunteering to help or to take a position on a panel. You can suggest a new submission category for outputs and you can, of course, submit an output.
The hidden REF will celebrate all research outputs and recognise everyone that contributes to their creation. If we recognise everyone who is vital to research, we will create the right environment in which to advance it.
Honorary Fellowships for Technicians
As part of their aim to raise the professional status of technicians, and to recognise and celebrate their contribution to physics, the IOP are encouraging nominations for Honorary Fellowship for outstanding technicians.
An Honorary Fellowship is the highest accolade presented by the Institute of Physics to reflect an individual’s exceptional services to physics. Find out more from the Institute of Physics (IO). We're sure you'll agree that this is a fantastic development for the technical community.
Technician Skills Development Grant
The Royal Society of Chemistry's Technician Skills Development Grant supports technicians to undertake short to mid-term visits to organisations overseas or within their current country of residence, with the aim of developing skills to support their career progression. Grants of up to £7000 are available.
For more information see The Royal Society of Chemistry.
Higher Education and Technician's Educational Development (HEaTED) is the UK's leading provider of professional development and networking opportunities for all disciplines of the technical workforce.
For more information please visit the HEaTED webpages.
The following are a list of useful links and resources:
The following is an archive of the 'Technicians Make It Happen' newsletter, the latest edition is at the top of the list.
IOP Award Winners | Cryogenics and Clean Room Technical Team
For their outstanding service and the delivery of significant improvements to the helium recovery, storage and liquification system ensuring the long-term sustainability of low temperature condensed-matter research.
This young team of Callum, Graeme, Chris and Jack provides essential support to two of the school's main research themes: condensed-matter physics and photonics.
Helium recovery and liquefier system overhaul
The team's efforts in overhauling Scotland's only helium recovery and liquefier system have been noted across the university. Late last year the team designed and installed a bespoke helium capture system in another school, allowing gas to be transported back to physics for subsequent re-use.
Very little funding was available to facilitate these improvements. After making a small initial investment, the team used savings made through improved recovery rates to re-invest into the next round of improvements.
The success of the improvements has been demonstrated by the internal helium recharge rates charged to researchers remaining fixed against rapidly rising world prices.
The team also maintains the two cleanrooms and the associated nano- and microfabrication equipment used by the photonics researchers.
As a fitting finale to a very productive few years, Callum and his team organised the highly successful British Cryogenics Council 2019 CryoUsers Conference, bringing together suppliers and delegates from across the UK.
For more information visit Institute of Physics Award.