B.) Career Progression & Professional Development
PRISMs are essential for the success of the investment they represent and manage, be it a short- term project or a long-term venture, where future sustainability and success is of paramount importance for the HEI.
There is no clear career progression pathway for PRISM roles. Projects / Programmes / Doctoral Training Centres / Research Centres / Networks / Institutes have different levels of remit, responsibilities, and impact and provide a growth route for these roles. However, clear definitions and grading structures to reflect these different levels and provide progression pathways are often lacking within the UK HEIs.
PRISM roles and responsibilities are organic, changing with the needs of the research team and the opportunities arising. This is particularly true where a PRISM’s duties go beyond the scope of typical project management (project planning, risk management, budget management, staff management, reporting), instead incorporating responsibilities for the realisation of award deliverables and development activities for future funding.
PRISMs can grow their area of responsibility, expertise, and experiences through contribution to, and leadership of, new initiatives and wider strategies that are outcomes of the investment they are employed on, e.g., through involvement in the development of new bids/business cases, partnerships and (inter)national networks. However, such work, while beneficial to and appreciated by the immediate research team, seem not to form part of a framework which could recognise and reward the growth of the PRISM’s remit and responsibilities alongside the growing research ecosystem they manage.
At present, the route to promotion appears reserved for the traditional academic career.
For PRISMs, this often means they contribute significantly to the grant/ business case development which includes the role they have shaped as part of the research team. If the grant/case is successful, they are likely to be best qualified to undertake the managerial leadership roles, but under the current system they then may need to apply for the role in a competitive process, and/or undertake a regrading process that lacks transparency of metrics.
It is not clear how PRISM roles map against competencies and experiences required for senior management roles (within and outside of academia) and how PRISMs may be best supported in their development towards them.
Another issue reported by the community is access to development opportunities, due to: i.) lack of budget (not costed in grants; central budgets not accessible to non-permanent staff); and ii.) time-limited contracts (course duration exceeding contract duration; contract extension planned but not issued prior to the course registration deadline).