Technical Services Newsletter

January 2017

Articles for the Technical Services Newsletter

If you would like to include an article in our monthly newsletter please send your text, and pictures (JPG format), by email to the Deputy Head of Technical Services by 12:00 on last Friday of the month, for circulation the following Monday.

‌"Fast Track" Professional Registration 

On 25 Jan 17 we ran a fast track professional registration workshop for our technical staff who expressed an interested in professional registration or were members of professional bodies.

Agne Sniukstaite, Relationship Manager (Science Council), facilitated the event. Agne was supported by Jonathan Cresswell (FIScT), Clive Betts, Florian Bayer (RSci), Gavyn Rollinson (CSci), Daniela Farina (RSci), Jackie Tucker (Environment Agency NLS, RSci), and Rob Carter (Environment Agency NLS, CSci and IST Assessor).

The format of the workshop was as follows:

  • First 15 minutes. An introduction to the Science Council and Professional registration plus a few tips on completing your competence report. The main part of the workshop will consist of five 25-30 minute long sections, designed to cover the 5 areas of competence. Each heading is broken down into 2 or 3 parts that enable applicants to really be detailed and specific in their thinking.
  • Part 1 – Application of Knowledge and Understanding. Participants will be asked to think about how their work makes use of their underpinning knowledge. We don’t just want to hear about what they know, but how they apply it, and how their understanding informs their everyday decisions and resolution of problems.
  • Part 2 – Personal Responsibility. Here we will think about how far personal responsibility extends in the workplace. When do employees take personal responsibility? Are there times they have had to exercise their personal responsibility, either on behalf of themselves or someone else? What were the inputs and outputs?
  • Part 3 – Interpersonal Skills. We want to see that our scientists can demonstrate superior people skills. In this section, we will think about communication between colleagues, peers, and stakeholders.
  • Part 4 – Professional Practice. This section is about procedures, methods and resources. The participants will be encouraged to think and reflect on times they have picked various methods and techniques, and any steps they’ve taken to make improvements to resources in their workplace.
  • Part 5- Professionalism. This part of the competence report wants to see that the applicants understand their relevant codes of conducts and practice, and can assess why they are necessary and how to adhere to them. We will also talk about how the applicants enhance and maintain their own professional development.
  • Throughout the sections, the participants will be encouraged to keep thinking about and making notes of examples in their working lives that demonstrate all these areas of competence.

Next Steps

  1. Delegates will complete their applications through the Science Council’s online system before the 28 Feb 17. This will ensure that the assessors have enough time to read their applications before their interviews (if they are taking that route). If they are not having an interview, applications should be completed no later than 31 Mar 17. Note: I will confirm payment details for University of Exeter staff to cover initial membership fee proportion of the cost (up to £45).
  2. (Optional) Face to Face interview – I have informed the Science Council assessors of the staff who have expressed an interest in the face to face interviews for the day you chose. I will be in touch in due course to arrange times and locations for your interview. These will be done via video conference so you don’t lose too much time from your day. An assessor from the Science Council will discuss your application and work through your examples with you. The face to face assessment requires you to provide an online competence report, however this is used to guide the Science Council in assigning assessors with the relevant skills and experience, and to help the assessors prepare for the face to face interview. It therefore does not need to be as comprehensive as for an online assessment. The evidence you provide in the interview will be what the assessors use to make their decision.
  3. Presentation of Certificates – We hope to get the science council or professional body to present successful applicants with their certificate at the technical services conference on 6 Jul 17. Generally you will receive these at your home address directly. It would be great if delegates were able to bring their certificates in so we could present it formally to you to celebrate your success.

Delegates Feedback:

  • Enjoyed working/discussing in groups on the examples.
  • Hearing examples from their colleagues.
  • Advice and feedback from RSci/CSci mentors and an application assessor.
  • Advice/guidance on how to complete the application competencies, and the detail required.
  • One-to-one guidance with part A questions.
  • Information on the application process.
  • Meeting different people
  • Impetus to get going to a deadline.

Positives/lessons learnt that our delegates took away from the event were:

  • Now have rough examples for most of the questions.
  • How to answer the questions on the application form and what is needed.
  • One to one guidance – a very useful introduction to the application process for registration.
  • The everyday dynamic of working in a science environment and how to use daily work examples. Think more critically about what I do each day and how it can be used in my application.
  • Even simple processes are valuable.
  • Fill in the application perfectly to minimise the amount of back and forth from incomplete answers – check with a college before submitting.
  • Be specific in application.
  • Don’t be shy, say how good you are and what you do.
  • Mixing with peers and learning by listening to others.
  • Useful to have input from experts in the workshop session.
  • CAR method – Context, Actions and Results for each answer.
  • Feeling empowered to undertake professional registration.
  • How to breakdown the questions.
  • Use of “I” not “we” in the application.

Thank you to all those who attended, and supported the event.

‌‌UK HE Technicians Summit

The national Higher Education Technicians Summit 2017 promotes a professional identity for technical staff in UK higher education and beyond and is hosted by the Midlands Innovation Universities (Aston, Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham & Warwick) in partnership with the Science Council.

The conference is the largest event held specifically for UK HE technical staff to date, following a highly successful inaugural summit in 2015 at Nottingham. Sessions will focus on professional development and networking opportunities with a range of “hot topics”. The conference will also discuss broader issues around technical skills and education including the importance of technical skills in driving forward innovation, and current initiatives to ensure the future provision of technical education to young people. The UK skills shortage, employability and the importance of collaborative industry partnerships are also on the agenda.

The conference will publicly celebrate the skills, talent and experience of technicians through the national Papin Prizes, a series of Awards to be made to technicians across the UK who have demonstrated excellence in their field.



  • Start date: 21 Jun 17
  • Duration: 1 Day (10:30-15:30)
  • Location: Plymouth University, Drake Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AA

The HEatED SW Network event will have an Arts focus. further details and a full agenda for the day will be added here in due course.

Our HEaTED Network Events are an invitation for technicians, staff development and other related colleagues to work together, bringing their experiences and expertise to discussions on issues like training and development, models for best technical and strategic planning and practice, proficiency standards, and changes in policies.


Technical Develpment and Modernisation (TDM) Project 

To bring you up to speed with activities at the National Centre for Professional Technicians and the excellent recent articles highlighting the issues and problems relating to Professional Technicians in the HE sector, please see the links below to the latest articles.

In a statement by Professor Sir Keith Burnett CBE FRS, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield and President of the Science Council said:

“The Higher Education sector has been crying out for solutions to the many problems affecting the Professional Technician highlighted in reports from the Gatsby Foundation, the Science Council and other organisations. I can now announce that a team working at the National Centre for Professional Technicians here in Sheffield is producing a definitive toolkit, which will address these issues for the employer and the technical community. This work, funded by HEFCE, will make a massive contribution to our understanding of the roles and contribution the Professional Technicians make in the Higher Education sector.”

Read the latest "committed to technicians" news article from the Technical Development and Modernisation (TDM) team. The project addresses issues raised by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and The Science Council and will deliver a "toolkit" that HEIs can utilise in delivering professional, highly skilled, technical workforce.

The National Centre for Technical Development and Modernisation - University of Sheffield centre to tackle decline of technicians - Hopes that coordination across universities and better career paths can renew technician workforce.

"A technician shaped hole in higher education".  The failure to value technician’s role in universities is leading to poor decision making and often expensive investment mistakes, warns Terry Croft.  In this blogpost, he highlights what the University of Sheffield is doing to improve the situation by delivering the national HEFCE Catalyst project.

TDM toolkit to be launched in August 2017

The TDM toolkit will be launched in August 2017. The toolkit covers all aspects related to technicians in the Higher Education sector.

Vibration research on Fastnet lighthouse

On Monday 5th December a team of researchers for the EPSRC STORMLAMP were flown from Castletown-Bearhaven, Ireland to Fastnet Rock, 6 miles off the Irish mainland.

James Bassitt, Karen Faulkner and Ian Moon from University of Exeter, along with Alessandro Antonini from Plymouth University and Athanasios Pappas from UCL planned to stay overnight after carry out a modal test of the lighthouse, while James Bassitt installed a remote acceleration monitoring system.

Read more about the trip here.

Technical Services HR Team

In recent years, the University has gone through unprecedented growth and success which requires continuous improvement to the way that we work now, and in the future. As a result of this the HR teams have reviewed the way they support staff at the University.

In particular the HR Operations team, which encompasses the HR Business Partners, HR Advisors and HR/Payroll Administrators have reviewed the way they work in order to create a simple, effective and customer focussed delivery model that supports the Human Resources strategy of; Attract, Perform, Retain. This new, improved structure will be launched as of 3rd January 2017. The new structure can be found here.

What does this mean for you?
In some cases you may have a new HR Business Partner to support your College/Professional Services Directorate for strategic planning and complex operational issues. However the biggest change will be from the HR Advisors who support you with all operational issues such as recruitment, absence, policy, performance, maternity etc. The HR Advisors will be working in teams to cover a larger number of Colleges/Professional Services Directorates rather than individually covering a smaller number. This will offer a more flexible and consistent service and you will have an email address specific to College Services (including Technical Services) Directorate to use to contact the relevant team.

Please send all future queries to:

The Technical Services HR Team is detailed on the HR webpages under the “College Services (inc Technical Services)” tab.

Business Continuity

Bristol University lab evacuated over chemical alert - Several university buildings were evacuated over an incident involving a suspected "unstable chemical" in a laboratory.  Click here for more details on the incident.

TechNet Newsletter

The e-newsletter will appear quarterly, generally after each TechNet event. This is your way to catch up on what's happening within the technical community.


New Joiners in Technical Services

Technical Services would like to welcome the following new staff to the University, and congratulate existing staff in their new role:

  • Miss Rebecca Austin - Administrative Assistant (Ecology and Conservation) - GBP
  • Dr Christine Flaxman - Technician
  • Miss Steph Fox - Technician (Aquatic Husbandry) 1
  • Dr Natalie Harriman -Technical Services Manager
  • Mr Ian Leaves - Technician
  • Mr Ben Natha - Technicians (Aquatic Husbandry) 2
  • Miss Ellinor Alseth Opsal -Technician
  • Dr Paul Parsons -Research Technician
  • Miss Eleanor Russell - Laboratory Assistant GBP
  • Dr Salha Saad -Senior Technician
  • Mrs Simone Schindler - Research Technician (LSI - Biosciences)
  • Ms Laura Travers -Technician
  • Dr Devi Whittle -Technician
  • Miss Sabrina Wright -Laboratory Assistant (GBP)