UCDRSA: Who are we and what do we do?
The UCD Research Staff Association (UCDRSA) was formed in 2010 following UCD’s sudden introduction of the Research Careers Framework (RCF) which was subsequently exploited as a shield to circumvent the legitimate obligation of UCD in issuing contracts of indefinite duration (CID) to postdocs who were otherwise eligible under the Protection of Fixed Term Worker Act. In addition, the RCF had the direct consequence of impacting severely on postdoctoral careers. At that time UCD planned to classify all postdocs as trainees without a clear justification and maximally allowed two postdocs contracts of 2 years duration each after completing their PhD (PD1 and PD2). On completion of these, postdocs were compelled to either find their own independent funding or move on. However, no training or professional development were made available to the postdocs to aid this process.
We felt that it was extremely ambitious and unrealistic on the part of UCD to expect young postdocs at their early career stage to be successful in securing independent funding. UCDRSA has been instrumental in raising all these concerns that directly impact postdoc community within UCD. We continue to engage in dialogue with UCD Human Resources, Heads of Departments, Principal Investigators and other stakeholders including funding agencies and government and ministers, and have so far achieved positive results.
The achievements of UCDRSA:
- The total term of PD 1 and PD 2 has been extended (from 4 yrs) to 6 years in total.
- It is now possible to work as a Research Fellow after you complete the 6 yrs postdoc even without your own funding if you are: a) deemed essential to the grant; b) have a particular unique skill; or c) have your own funding.
- A fully dedicated careers development officer (Naoimh O’Connor) has been appointed as the contact person for career development advice and support to all postdocs.
- Postdoc have representation in a standing committee which report directly to the UCD University Management Team (UMT). This committee is made up of HR, Heads of Departments, and Principal Investigators.
- Quarterly networking events together with UCD Research and Careers Development Office.
- Advice and guidance on employment rights.
- Advice on who you can speak to if you’ve career or employment related concerns.
We are currently working on:
- New UCD postdoc orientation event tailored for the postdoc.
- A welcome document providing advice to new postdocs.
- The creation of the position of Senior Research Fellow (SRF) post within the university.
- Improved training courses for postdocs especially for postdocs who wish to exit.
- Removing the status of Trainee from postdoc contracts.
- Common rights for postdocs across the university such as:
- Access to teaching hours for postdocs who would like to attain some.
- Formal recognition as supervisor or co-supervisor of postgrads.
- Formal recognition as the PI on grants that the postdocs write.
The important work carried out by UCDRSA continues, but to be successful we need YOUR help and input.
– complete our online poll of 2 questions (YES only 2!) at the link below and make sure your voice is heard. http://bit.ly/ucdrsasurvey
– Contact us firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas, concerns or even to join the committee
– Come along to our AGM on October 30th at 4pm in the Conway Institute.