Technician Commitment

The Technician Commitment is a university and research institution initiative, led by a steering board of sector bodies, with support from the Science Council and the Technicians Make It Happen campaign.

The Commitment aims to ensure visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians working in higher education and research, across all disciplines. Universities and research institutes are invited to become signatories of the Technician Commitment and pledge action against the key challenges affecting their technical staff.

Find out more about the Technicians Make it Happen campaign

Our action plan

We seek to maintain and ensure a commitment to four key areas we've identified as being integral to supporting our technicians. These include making sure technical staff are visible, recognised, have opportunities for career development, and are able to work in a sustainable fashion. 

We ensure the technicians within the organisation are identifiable and that the contribution of technicians is visible within and beyond the institution.

 We commit to:

  • Inclusion of Technical representation on the University’s deliberative committees
  • Showcasing the contribution Technicians make to the University through internal and external communication channels including Technician staff profiles on the University website
  • Featuring Technicians in University marketing materials and highlighting the applied and practical dimensions of taught provision, research activity and industrial engagement
  • Extending the Science Technician Work Experience Week to a University-wide Technician Work Experience Week for Year 10 and Year 12 pupils across Derby and Derbyshire
  • Reinstating the annual Technicians’ Conference from 2021
  • Further developing the collaboration between academic and technical staff in curriculum developments and research planning to strengthen student experience and research quality
  • Technician involvement in University community projects.
  • Forming a Technical Services Change Group to work collaboratively towards embedding a positive culture of community within the Technical Service, being advocates for change and making a difference both locally and across the organisation

We support technicians to gain recognition through professional qualifications.

We commit to:

  • Working with the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) to support Technicians in applying for Fellowship or Associate Fellowship to Advance HE
  • Supporting Technicians professional development through engagement in relevant agencies, such as Higher Education and Technical Education Development (HEaTED), National Technician Development Centre (NTDC) and /or Institute of Science and Technology (IST)
  • To put appropriate colleagues forward for national recognition awards, such as the Times Higher Education awards for Technician of the Year
  • Continue to encourage nominations to the University’s Staff Excellence Awards from all areas of the Technical Services Team and inclusion in the Union of Student Education Awards

We enable career progression opportunities for technicians through the provision of clear, documented career pathways.

We commit to:

  • Exploring opportunities for linked Technical grades with HR colleagues and to map technical career pathways
  • Making use of increasing apprentice opportunities to develop skills-based and technical management opportunities, for example:
  1.  MP2/L8 Technical Manager: L6 Chartered Manager Degree, L7 Senior Leader, L7 Academic Professional (leading to Fellowship of Advance HE)
  2. MP1/L7 Technical Team Leader: L5 CMI Operations Manager, L6 Chartered Manager Degree, L7 Academic Professional (leading to Fellowship of Advance HE)
  3. L6 Technical Instructor/Senior Technician: L5 CMI Operations Manager, L6 Chartered Manager Degree, L5 Learning and Skills Teacher, L7 Academic Professional (leading to Fellowship of Advance HE)
  4. L5 Technician: L3 ILM Team Leader, L5 Learning and Skills Teacher. Inclusion of staff profiles on the University website to highlight Technical careers
  •  Inclusion of staff profiles on the University website to highlight Technical careers

We ensure the future sustainability of Technical skills across the organisation and that technical expertise is fully utilised.

We commit to:

  • Working with relevant agencies, such as the National Technician Development Centre (NTDC), to assure the technical skills and standards across the University
  • Establishing a Technician Commitment Steering Group including Technical, University Senior and Executive Management and HR colleagues, to guide the delivery of these commitments
  • Undertake a skills audit to define training requirements for technical colleagues across all grades
  • Building in succession planning and training into the development of individual technicians and technical teams
  • Assuring equality, diversity and inclusivity in all that we do

Awards and Activities

Technicians are valued by the University and their contribution, along with others from across the University, and are central to the development of the University’s Strategic Framework (2018-2030). In recognition of the contribution that Technicians make, we recently introduced (2019) a ‘Technician of the Year’ category in the University’s Annual Staff Excellence Awards.

The Union of Students at Derby recognises the role of staff including Technicians in its annual awards. In its Education awards, the Union of Students recognises and celebrates the contribution Technical colleagues make to the student experience.  

Technical colleagues are nominated in the ‘Outstanding Support Staff’ category which is open to all those from across the University who support students throughout their studies. In 2019, the winner and runner-up in this section were both Technical Instructors in the College of Science and Engineering in 2020, the runner-up and winner were Technicians from the College of Health, Psychology and Social Care and College of Science and Engineering, respectively.

Career Development

Working with colleagues in the University of Derby Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CELT) we are supporting Technical staff to gain either Associate or Fellowship through Advanced HE. Over the past year, 39 (58%) colleagues have undertaken their induction and in 2020 we celebrated the first Technical Instructors to successfully achieve their Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and a further five technical colleagues successfully achieving Associate Fellowship (AFHEA) status. 

We have a further nine applications committed to 2021 with seven of those for the January 2021 deadline. The External Examiner’s HEA report made the following comment:

“…the team are to be commended for the number and range of applications made for AFHEA, in recognition of the important contribution made by colleagues such as technicians”.

The University’s Pathfinder lead, Associate Professor Dr. Chris Ribchester acknowledged that:

“…a really positive development throughout 2020 has been the greater diversity of colleagues engaging with the Pathfinder Scheme, particularly Technicians. It’s been great to work directly with Technician colleagues and provide new professional recognition opportunities based around their significant work in supporting students at Derby”.

Technical colleagues are represented within the role of Change Champions across the University contributing to the University’s Transformation Programme as part of the University’s Strategic Framework. The Change Champions are positive role models for the University, influencing positively on those around them. Change Champions are ambassadors for the University, celebrating diversity and promoting inclusive practice. Collectively the Change Champions create an impactful network across the University.

Our first University of Derby Technicians’ Conference organised by the Technical Management Team took place in September 2019. The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kathryn Mitchell opened the conference highlighting the value the University places on the contributions made by our Technicians. Kelly Vere, Higher Education and Technician Commitment Lead at the Science Council and Director of Technical Skills and Strategy at the University of Nottingham, was the keynote speaker at the conference, providing an oversight of the Technicians Commitment.

The Conference also gave opportunities for Technicians from across the University to present and showcase their areas and provided tours of their facilities. The Conference also gave the opportunity for groups from across the University to talk about key issues such as health and safety, research strategy and the Institutional learning and teaching strategy. The 2020 Technicians Conference was disrupted by Covid-19 however the conference will be instigated in 2021.

What we're doing to improve


Technical colleagues are being increasingly included in University planning activities such as around Covid-19. This has included social distancing layouts and risk assessments within specialist spaces. Inclusion on task and finish groups as part of the Academic Task Group – the University group overseeing the implementation of the Educational Model designed considering our new ‘active blended’ learning approach including ‘learning laboratory’ concept.

Technical colleagues formed part of the Timetable Preparedness Group to prepare for teaching. The Technical Manager was also part of the Student Preparedness Group looking at Virtual Inductions. The Technician Voice will also be engaged through the University Knowledge Exchange developments including opportunities arising through the associated concordat.


Working with colleagues in Marketing, all Technicians are developing their staff profile on the University website to increase their visibility and to recognise the contribution Technicians make to the University’s taught provision, student experience, research activity and industry engagement. To enable this, the Digital Marketing Team have provided website training to some of the Technicians to enable them to create new facilities information and update existing sites.


Technicians are actively encouraged to attend, participate and contribute to the meetings of various research groups, research centres and innovation institutes to continue to raise the profile and visibility of technicians in research. The contribution Technicians make directly to research activity is acknowledged through their inclusion as journal authors and contributors to REF. 

Recognition of Technicians contributions towards academic enterprise and external knowledge transfer collaborations, such as the ‘Big House’ project in the College of Art, Humanities and Education, contribute towards the Institutional KEF metrics and is acknowledged through internal communications, such as Derby Daily or Inform. Technician representation on research deliberative meetings and committees at College and University level is currently being reviewed ahead of the 2021/22 academic year.

Download our Technician Commitment to find out more.