Perceptions are everything, isn’t that a fact with Kingston University? We all know the VC is keen on awards to bolster Kingston’s “profile”, and KU has just done it again, this time winning the impressively titled HR Excellence in Research Award. At first sight one might think that suddenly Kingston is up there with the greats, the Oxford and Cambridges, the self-declared high performers of the Russell Sprouts. Alas, no. This is yet another award that an institution simply applies for. The clue is in the two initials HR, which it will surprise no one to learn, stands for Human Resources.
The award is adminstered by Vitae, part of CRAC, the Career Development Organisation. One goes about getting the award by following the steps on their website, listed here:
- The institution conducts an internal analysis to compare practice against the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (Charter and Code). Comparisons are made in areas such as ethics, training and recruitment
- The institution publishes an action plan for implementing their strategy to fully adopt the principles of the Charter and Code
- The Commission acknowledges the strategy. Once acknowledged, institutions can use the HR Excellence in Research logo
- The institution carries out a self-assessment at least every two years to assess progress and update their action plan
- At least every four years an external evaluation will take place. External reviewers can recommend improvements needed in order to retain the acknowledgement.
This is about no more than the enhancement of researchers’ careers through process, nothing to do with “research excellence”. Not that there is much enhancing of anyone’s career going on at Kingston, except for those who quit and find something better. But expect to see much crowing and blustering from Ratty about yet another award for Kingston. Perhaps it will fool some prospective students, especially from overseas, that Kingston is a high level research university and persuade them to come here. This is good for our survival of course but does little for our reputation. Processes do not make a university. Good leadership would be a start. No prospect of that.