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Readers, professors and REF UoA leaders

This programme is aimed at newly appointed and aspiring professors and readers together with academic colleagues who lead and manage research teams. We support emerging strategic leaders in developing their strategic leadership skills as they move into cross-university strategic roles.

We have your success in mind

Shaping University strategy and implementing University-wide strategies is rewarding, but with no strategic research leadership ‘how to’ manual, this is a hugely challenging business. This course is focused on supporting you in developing your strategic decision-making ability and enhancing your strategic voice for building a better future.

As a consequence of this course, some have obtained a seat on the postgraduate research committee, some have become involved in quality assurance and some have undertaken enhancements to the research degree programmes. They have presented papers to the postgraduate research degree sub-committee on new teaching initiatives for research students, shaped faculty plans and introduced research culture-enhancing initiatives such as ‘Research Fridays’ and taken more of an active role in supporting Research Excellence Framework submissions.

Feedback from the course has included:

"The step up to Reader has been a big one for me and all your advice and presentations have been invaluable."

"I was in the process of writing our School’s research strategy when the programme began, and it has been greatly influenced by ideas generated and explored."

"I think it helped me understand what my personal contribution could be and how I could help myself, my colleagues and my institution, even though I probably started out thinking I could have very little impact."

"This has convinced me that I can contribute to the collective research aims of my institution as well as my discipline."

"I feel that the programme helped me develop in my way of thinking strategically, which will help in achieving my vision and aims. Before the programme, I had not really developed a clear strategy. In the months following the programme, I made a significant contribution to the development of our pilot REF submission and the programme certainly helped me develop strategic thinking which I feel helped me in writing for the REF pilot."

Our programme is designed to:

  • Offer support for enhancing strategic research leadership in our post-92 institution where research is selectively funded in core areas of excellence
  • Recognise that conventional managerialism may not be appropriate in this complex post-92 academic setting. The management context includes research strategy at University, the internal structures established to support and oversee research units, the requirements of the Research Excellence Framework and the external environment characterised by uncertainty and budget cuts.
  • Use themes and content which were substantially informed by a series of focus groups with the participants from a pilot programme. These included 15 senior research leaders from 3 post-92 institutions (eg: aspiring or recently appointed readers or professors, REF UoA leaders and others).


Our teaching approach this year:

This course is currently on hold, to enable institutional priorities and staff needs to be evaluated. The next version of this course is expected to run in the academic year 2018/19.

The development programme:

We led a small inter-university programme steering group for designing this Leading and Managing Research Excellence development programme based on the content requested by strategic leaders in focus groups. The focus group participants identified the following priorities for the programme:

  • Use a sustainable strategic 10-year view which incorporates the shorter REF perspective
  • Focus on leading development of the research culture and agenda
  • Recognise that many participants lead informally or flexibly constituted teams


The content should also support participation in:

  • Developing research vision and strategy (towards and beyond the REF)
  • Responding to and leading change in the current policy environment


Participants wanted the programme to provide a toolkit which includes:

  • Leadership and management models
  • Working in teams
  • Communicating effectively
  • Coaching and mentoring


This programme typically comprises five workshops covering the following priorities:

  • Creating a sustainable vision and research strategy with impact
  • Strategic leadership
  • Responding to and leading change
  • Toolkit to support leading and managing research excellence
  • Collaborative sandpit to develop and design cross-institutional bids

More information

Email: celt@sunderland.ac.uk

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