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Kingston University launches academy to support academics and PhD students to become research leaders

Posted Friday 18 March 2022

Kingston University launches academy to support academics and PhD students to become research leaders The academies help academics and PhD students develop research leadership skills. Image:

A new academy designed to help academics and doctoral students develop into research leaders has been launched by Kingston University.

The Kingston RISE Research Leadership Academy has been designed to give academic staff and PhD students at the University a chance to advance their research skills and network with their peers. The programme was created by Head of the Graduate Research School and Researcher Development at Kingston University, Professor Priscilla Harries with support of research training expert and colleague Marie Withers and doctoral student Savannah Workman. It is one of two leadership schemes the leading academic heads up, also running the South London Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) Academy for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Professor Harries cited her own experiences of attending a leadership academy at Windsor Castle as the inspiration behind developing the new programme at Kingston University.  "There were leaders from a wide range of disciplines there, from the head of the Royal Marine Commandos to senior figures from large research charities, top government officials and the deputy head of a large public school. It was all about the principles of leadership, how to create a vision and strategy and how you support people to follow a shared vision – it was really inspiring and has helped my leadership journey," she said.

Having explored whether any bespoke programmes existed that solely focused on research leadership, Professor Harries found there was a gap in the market for such a model that was open to all. "I saw it as my responsibility to help develop people's leadership capabilities within academia. There is a huge need to grow research capacity development, otherwise we won't have the workforce to lead research in the future," she said.Professor Priscilla Harries decided to launch the academy after seeing the value of a leadership programme.Professor Priscilla Harries decided to launch the academy after seeing the value of a leadership programme.

Those taking part in the new RISE academy will hear from expert research leaders about their academic journey, successes and challenges they have faced and how it has shaped their careers. They will also have the opportunity to learn vital skills including how to cost grants, project manage, engage with stakeholders, be inclusive in their approach and build international collaborations.

Emerita Professor of Health and Social Care at Kingston University, Fiona Ross, is one of the research leaders lending their expertise as part of the programme, with a focus on equality and diversity in research, how it is supported through university environments and how to support everyone to succeed.

Peer-to-peer groups will be set up as action learning sets with everyone placed with those of a similar research experience. They will meet weekly to discuss any issues they want help to progress, hear from others on how they would overcome it and then, taking the advice on board, put those thoughts into action to progress their projects and careers.  

Towards the end of the six-month programme all those taking part will have a one-to-one sessions with an experienced, respected mentor, to discuss career advancement.

Both the RISE academy and the NIHR South London ARC academy programmes are free courses, which are run in parallel and consist of weekly online sessions that are scheduled to fit around the teaching, practice delivery and potential caring responsibilities of those on the academies. The Kingston Rise academy is open to academic staff and doctoral students from across the University, while the NIHR South London ARC academy is a collaboration between several organisations across South London, including Kingston, and is open to clinical academics and health and social care researchers.

The programmes reinforce Kingston's commitment to supporting career development for its researchers, in line with the national Concordat framework, which the University is signed up to, Professor Harries added. "Through taking part, there's a fantastic opportunity to hear from research leaders and get tremendous insight and knowledge from across a range of disciplines – expanding the academic peer network wider than would otherwise usually be possible."

The 2023 Academies will be open for applications again in Autumn 2022.

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