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Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs were developed for staff across the University of Warwick and will be updated iteratively throughout the review process to take account of feedback and questions from staff and trade unions through various consultation mechanisms in place.

Why is the University considering this as a strategy?

The University believes that there are significant benefits to establishing Research Technology Platforms (RTPs). The main driver is to ensure that the University undertakes world-class research and, to this end, to allow the University to plan and invest in its larger items of research infrastructure as strategically, transparently and sustainably as possible, particularly in the context of decreasing government and RCUK funding. Such planning and investment will benefit the academic community by helping to ensure that state-of-the-art research infrastructure is maintained and enhanced, whilst promoting greater shared use of facilities and interdisciplinary working.


How will this impact my job?

The RTP model necessitates the management, funding and operation of a core facility moving from a department to a technology platform. This involves some 1a-5 and some 6-9 administrative and technical staff transferring from their current departments to a research services unit.


Why is it that only some 1a-5 and 6-9 administrative and technical staff will be impacted by the changes and not Academic staff?

Academic staff are of course aligned to the department in which their research fits and the majority of their role is taken up with research and teaching within their existing department. Part of some academic roles however will be aligned but on a secondment basis. Those technical and administrative staff who are wholly or in part aligned to delivering a technical service will transfer to the RTP.


What impact will there be on non academic staff?

The vision for the Research Technology Platforms is to better utilise and make more accessible our current technologies and ultimately to grow our capabilities and research. We recognise we have some highly skilled staff and we intend to develop and grow our internal capability further. To that end, we feel this is a positive move for the University and associated staff.


Will there be any be any impact for academic staff?

The majority of academic staff will see almost no change at all. Those who have an association with the delivery of the technology will remain in their current academic departments. The aim of the Research Technology Platforms is to encourage better utilisation of research infrastructure and make this capability more accessible and it is envisaged that academic staff will benefit from this. The Research Technology Platform Directors, once appointed, will remain in their current academic departments, but a fraction of their time will be dedicated to leading the RTP.

Staff who are wholly or in part contracted to deliver the technological capabilities will transfer to the Service Centre or Technology Platform as an internal non-academic department. This is simply an internal transfer and an organisational change in terms of structure and governance and does not represent any change to substantive terms and conditions.

All staff who may be impacted by the transfer will have the opportunity for informal discussions with academic leads and an HR representative. In light of the changes, some job roles will be subject to evaluation and in these cases any re-grade will be discussed with the individual. It is not envisaged that any role will be re-graded lower than the current grade.


Will there be any change in the overall numbers or nature of support staff roles?

The changes are essentially just ones of governance. Support staff may experience the governance changes in their everyday work more directly than academic staff, but we do not expect there to be any change in the overall numbers or nature of support staff roles in the new structures as a result of the move to Research Technology Platforms.


 What is the role of the proposed Research Technology Platform Director (academic role)?

To lead on the academic direction and delivery of an internationally competitive leading-edge Research Technology Platform as a core facility that provides specialist services and expertise to the academic community and external industry users. This is to enable the strategic development and achievement of world class research through pioneering infrastructure and equipment.


What is the role of the proposed Platform Manager (non academic role)?

To develop, implement and manage the staff, resources and facilities necessary to ensure the Research Technology Platform meets the appropriate legal requirements, standards of performance and welfare in all of the services it delivers and remains internationally competitive.

To provide information and advice on service delivery and experimental design to all current and prospective users of the facility.


Will these RTPs be individual departments or one department?

Each Platform will be a defined department with a Technology Platform Director overseeing the academic direction and overall use of the technology. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Science, Engineering and Medicine) will work with the Platform Directors to ensure the University retains and develops leading edge technologies. Each platform will also have its own cost centre. Rather than every Director presenting his/her five-year plan individually to the University through the Academic Resourcing Committee, it is proposed that they each present their plan to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, who will then present a summary of the platforms’ plans to Academic Resourcing Committee in accordance with the five-year planning timetable.


What are the timeframes for this proposal?

The proposal to establish RTPs was presented to Senate on 12 March 2014. Following this there will be further discussions regarding the structure of, and roles within, the RTP. Where required, the job evaluation process will be carried out for roles within the proposed structure. Discussions will subsequently take place with staff on an individual basis. A meeting of Council is scheduled for 14 May 2014, where the proposals will be further considered. Following the meeting of Council, a further staff briefing will take place. It is proposed that RTPs will become operational on 1 August 2014 and there will need to be a period of transition from this date before the Platforms are operating at their optimum level.


If the Research Technology Platform strategy does not work in the longer term, what does this mean for staff?

Technologies are always going to be an integral part of any research-active University and whilst we are continuing to deliver ‘world-class’ research we will need ‘world-class’ technologies. A similar strategy has been employed by one of our international strategic partners, Monash University, and has been very successful, and so we are confident that the model can work.


Will this extend to more scientific resources other than the five mentioned?

We expect that in time, and depending on the success of the initial 5, that other technologies within the University will move to this organisational structure. As with the initial 5 a full review of each potential opportunity will take place in time, with a clear business plan for each to determine the best organisational structure.


Has the University considered the reputational impact of these recommendations?

We have some excellent research infrastructure at Warwick. After consulting with our strategic partner institution, Monash University, we are confident that the Research Technology Platform initiative will enable Warwick to be identified by, and its reputation enhanced due to the leading research capability RTPs will provide.


Do you think the research councils will be supportive of this strategy?

Yes, in fact this idea comes out of EPSRC funded research to support research collaboration and exchanges of ideas between Warwick and Monash.


Who sits on the RTP Project Board?

The Board’s membership consists of:
Professor T Jones, PVC (Chair)
Professor J Davey, representative of Warwick Medical School
Dr M Glover, Academic Registrar (Deputy Chair)
Dr L Morton, Research Development Manager
Ms G Mills, HR Engagement Director
Dr A Reed, Director of Corporate Relations
Mr A Smith, Finance Director
Professor P Thomas, Chair of the Faculty of Science


Will we still be able to use the facilities e.g. workshop repairs?

It is envisaged that staff moving to an RTP will still have full access to the resources required, including workshops etc. The specific details to facilitate this are under discussion.


Where will I be based?

Whilst it is proposed that the staff responsible for the provision of each platform’s services be transferred to the relevant Research Technology Platform, the staff will remain physically located in their current departments.


How will the RTP budgets be managed?

The RTPs' budgets will each be managed in a separate new department with costs and the aligned staff that are currently within existing departments being transferred to the new RTP department. This will include staff costs and non-staff costs. The department will be managed by a Platform Director and Platform Manager who ultimately report into the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Science, Engineering and Medicine) (Professor Tim Jones) and the Academic Resourcing Committee. The department will have a dedicated Finance Manager and will be subject to the normal Financial Rules, Regulations and Procedures of the rest of the University.


How will we be kept informed of updates on the review etc?

There will be several opportunities to meet with members of the project board during March and April 2014. Details of these sessions will be made available shortly. Staff will also be able to speak to their Head of Department and members of the HR team if they have any queries.

Staff will be able to use the dedicated email address to raise any queries or provide feedback. In addition there will be a continuous update in relation to frequently asked questions.

A staff briefing will take place following the meeting of Council on 14 May 2014.


How will staff that have not been able to attend the staff briefing be updated on the information?

Copies of the slides from the briefing on 10 May 2014 will be made available to them via the website along with a full set of FAQs and answers. Staff can also discuss any queries with their Head of Department and the HR department.


Will I be able to have a copy of the paper outlining the recommendations made to Steering?

A copy of the paper is available on the RTP website.


What support will be offered to staff (during the transition period)?

Staff will have the opportunity to meet with members of the project board, as well as speaking to their Head of Department and members of the HR team.

A dedicated email address has been set up for individuals to raise queries or provide feedback at RTPReview@warwick.ac.uk. This email address will continue to be available for the duration of the review and transition process. Alongside other staff support facilities and opportunities, we will issue those questions that are frequently asked via email.

Any changes to job roles will, where required, be supported by relevant training and development.


Is the objective of the RTPs to make a profit?

The objective of the project is to facilitate world-class research in line with Vision 2015, through ensuring that state-of-the-art research infrastructure is maintained and enhanced at the University. The aim of the technology platform strategy is to support the strategic development, implementation and management of leading-edge infrastructure and equipment to enable world-class research.

The RTPs are not being established with a key objective of making a profit. The proposed new model of using RTPs ensures transparent costs. Whilst we would want RTPs to generate income, the amount of income that we would expect to be generated will vary between platforms.


Will staff remain as an employee of their current department?

Staff will become a member of the new RTP department, however they will physically be based in their current departments and will retain the access they have to the various technical and social facilities within their current department.


Why are only some parts of a technology being moved to an RTP (e.g. Mass Spectrometry)?

The idea of incorporating other parts of the technologies was considered but it was felt that at this stage in the RTP project it would be too complex to extract all of the associated elements into one platform. It has already been a complex process to try and align the finances, people and technologies. Once these five RTPs are operational, and the infrastructure is in place, it should be more straightforward to incorporate additional equipment associated with the technology to the specific RTP in the future.


What input will HODs have in the RTP?

The HODs in which the technologies currently sit will not be involved in running the platform. However they will have input into the annual planning round for each RTP and will be consulted on the effectiveness of each RTP from a departmental perspective.


Can you clarify how the structure reports into the committee and the composition of the committee?

There will be a committee for each platform, which will consist of various users and the RTP Academic Director. Each platform will have an Academic Director, who will spend a proportion of their time directing the RTP, a Platform Manager and a team of technical staff.


How will the success of the RTPs be measured?

The project board are currently working on a set of Key Performance Indicators. They will encompass the number of high quality publications and citations, impact, usage levels, financials, research income, other income and quality of services offered to users. The indicators will be tailored to each individual platform, recognising the opportunities for development as well as the constraints within which they will each operate.


What will be done to publicise RTPs internally and externally?

As part of the implementation of the RTPs the project board will be looking at the communication of the establishment of RTPs with current and potential future users, this will include setting up relevant webpages.