The Birmingham Academic 3
Vice-Chancellor’s Foreword
Introduction
The University of Birmingham is one of the world’s leading universities. Its history as Britain’s first
civic university, its glorious campus, its global partnerships, and its outstanding resources define
Birmingham as an outstanding institution with an exceptional future. At the heart of the University
is a commitment to academic excellence in all its forms: outstanding and inspirational teaching;
path-breaking and internationally significant research; and knowledge transfer ranging from our
industrial partnerships to our public intellectuals.
The great universities are remarkable places, where academics enjoy the high degree
of autonomy that underpins academic excellence. For individual academics and the wider
University to thrive, we need collectively to achieve an appropriate balance between curiositydriven
research, publishing research outcomes to maximum impact, and sharing knowledge
in ways that benefit society, our economy, and our cultural life. This commitment to research
complements rather than compromises our parallel commitment to teaching, creating an
outstanding and intellectually challenging learning environment, and offering a student
experience second to none.
Given the competing demands on modern academics, balancing these priorities and modelling
the rounded excellence we expect must be a collective endeavour. To that end we seek to
appoint the best and offer a working environment and career support that matches the best.
Having made outstanding academic appointments, the University rightly expects outstanding
results. Having chosen to come to Birmingham, you will expect support, appropriate mentoring,
opportunities to develop and plan your career, a demanding but balanced workload, and
professional services that mirror the excellence of the University’s academic community of
scholarship. An academic’s contribution to the research, teaching, and knowledge transfer
activities of the University will naturally vary over time, as will the roles he or she plays in
leadership within the University. Review of this balance is properly a part of regular appraisal
and career development.
This paper sets out our vision of what it means to be an academic at Birmingham, and our
commitment to continuing to enhance the University as a destination of choice for the very
best and most ambitious academics.
Each section outlines the general characteristics we are looking for and indications of how these
characteristics will be demonstrated. Clearly we do not expect new staff to achieve all of these
from the outset. But they indicate the way in which we would expect their careers to blossom.
This is one of a developing suite of documents which sets
out the University’s vision for its staff and students. The
‘Birmingham Academic’ is aimed at Academic Teaching staff
– Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Readers, Associate Professors
and Professors – whose duties normally encompass research,
teaching and management/administrative activities. Its purpose
is to foster and maintain an academic culture of intellectual
stimulation and high achievement. It recognises that such a
culture is built on shared endeavour and a partnership between
academic staff and the corporate body of the University.
David Eastwood
Vice Chancellor and Principal