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European Commission HR Excellence in Research Award

The University of St Andrews is now a signatory to the 2019 Concordat to support the career development of researchers. Visit the Researcher Development Concordat section for more information.

The University of St Andrews was first awarded the European Commission HR Excellence in Research award in May 2012 and has since successfully retained the award at each review which takes place every 2 years. The 2020 review has now been submitted and the supporting documents are available below.  

The Award recognises the University's alignment with the principles laid out in Vitae's Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.

This is the second version of the Concordat, the first having been published in 2008. The University is committed to implementing this new Concordat and supporting Researchers in the three areas of focus. 

  • Environment and culture
  • Employment
  • Professional and career development.

HR Excellence Working Group

In order to implement the Concordat and to monitor progress the University has established the HR Excellence Working Group (see member details below). This group meets regularly throughout the year to develop and review an action plan and to ensure that progress is being made in alignment with the Concordat. Feedback and input from staff is considered important and is incorporated in the action plan. 

Documents including the action plan and review reports are available on the HR Excellence documents and updates page. 

The 7 principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, which are addressed in the Action Plan, are detailed below.

Any additional feedback or comments about the project, please contact:

HR Excellence documents and updates

The original action plan was published in May 2012 and since then there have been two internal reviews and one external review, which took place in 2016. Now in 2020 we are again taking part in an external review to analyse what we have achieved and to formulate a revised action plan to support current progress and to detail ideas for new developments.


You can view ALL iterations of the action plan along with the two, four and six year reports on the HR excellence in research documents page.  

What is the European Commission HR Excellence in Research award?

The HR Excellence in Research Award recognises institutions that have met the principles of good working conditions for researchers. This demonstrates a commitment to the implementation of the UK Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers alongside meeting the requirements for research degrees set out in the UK Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Quality Code.

A UK-wide process which incorporates the QAA Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes and the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, enables institutions to earn the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research award. 


This acknowledges alignment with the:

  • Principles of the European Charter for Researchers;

  • Code of Conduct for their Recruitment.

A document demonstrating the implementation of the Concordat, is required from the University. The concordat has been agreed and signed by a number of bodies, including University Research Councils and Universities UK.

What is the Concordat?

Full title: Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers

The Concordat focuses on researchers employed by HEIs on fixed term (or similar) contracts and funded through research grants or analogue schemes.  It aims to set the standards and conditions of employment for these researchers.  It is a benchmark reference point for good practice, across the UK Higher Education sector.


The 2008 Concordat was focused around 7 principles. The new 2019 Concordat is focused around the following three themes.


  1. Environment and culture

  2. Employment, and 

  3. Professional and career development.


The principles are underpinned by obligations for the four key stakeholder groups, to realise the aims of the Concordat.


  1. Funders,

  2. Institutions

  3. Researchers and 

  4. Managers of researchers


The University is now in a transition phase following the introduction of the new Concordat and more information will follow in due course.

Earning the award

The University of St Andrews has demonstrated it has upheld the 7 principles of the 2008 Concordat since 2012 through a process of internal and external review. This gives the University the right to use the HR Excellence in Research logo on university materials and the website.


Any changes to the process due to the implementation of the 2019 Concordat will be followed.

HR Excellence working Group

An 'HR Excellence' working group was created in 2011 and has been meeting regularly to progress the implementation of the Concordat. The current working group comprises of: 


  • Academic Lead: Vice-Principal Research and Innovation

  • Head of Organisational and Staff Development (Chair)

  • Director of Research and Innovation Services

  • Head of Research Policy

  • Human Resources Business Partner

  • Equality & Diversity Officer

  • Planning Manager

  • Careers Centre (Advisor)

  • Staff Developer (Research Staff)

  • Staff Developer (Academic Staff)

  • Educational & Postgraduate Researcher Development

  • Post Grad Reps

  • Post Doc Reps


The European Commission are increasingly building in references to the ‘European Charter and Code’ for funding criteria. The ‘HR Excellence in Research' award demonstrates to funders our institutional commitment to meeting the principles of the ‘European Charter and Code’.

For further details please view: Fairness=Funding Process (PDF, 428 KB)

Or visit

CROS and PIRLS surveys

Careers in Research Online Survey (CROS)

Gathers data regarding working conditions, career aspirations and career development opportunities for research staff in UK Higher Education.


Principal Investigators & Research Leaders Survey (PIRLS)

Aims to capture activities and attitudes in relation to research leadership, the management of research staff and the supervision of PGRs.


Further details ...

For further details on both the CROS and PIRLS survey, please visit the dedicated page:


CROS and PIRLS has now been replaced by the Culture, Employment and Development in Academic Research Survey – CEDARS. CEDARS integrates key questions from the previous CROS and PIRLS surveys and will gather anonymous data about working conditions, career aspirations of and career development opportunities for researchers, and managers of researchers. 

HR Excellence Group Members







Dr Diane Munday (Staff Developer, Research Staff): dcm24@

Jos Finer (Head of Organisation & Staff Development): jaf21@

Anne Eadie-Tice (Staff Development Officer): afet1@

Avery Hawkins (Organisational Development Co-ordinator): ah329@

Academic Staff Developer, OSDS: asd-osds@


Dr Heather McKiggan-Fee (Educational and PG Researcher Developer): hcm@

Research Fellow representatives

Dr Alexander Konovalov, (Research Fellow, School of Computer Science): alexander.konovalov@

Planning Office

Jonathan McDougall-Bagnall (Planning Manager) jmb15@

Careers Centre


Craig Phillips (Assistant Director): cwp1@

Diversity, Equality & Inclusion

Sukhi Bains (Equality and Diversity Officer): sb104@

Karen McGregor (Equality and Diversity Awards Adviser): kfm3@

Human resources


Louise Milne (Human Resources Business Partner): lm80@

Research policy office



Dr Helen Reddy (Director of Research and Innovation Services): helen.reddy@

Dr Richard Malham (Senior Research Policy and Integrity Manager): rwm7@



Jos Finer
T: 01334 46 2599


HR Excellence 8 yr Review Report (PDF, 516 KB)

2018-20 Completed Objectives (PDF, 1,305 KB)

2020-22 New and Ongoing Objectives (PDF, 1,449 KB)


Additional links

- Organisational Staff and Development Services (OSDS)
- Human Resources
- Vitae