The Forum is a non-profit making partnership that seeks to create, develop and inform leading-edge HRD theories and practices through an international network of universities, individuals and organisations promoting cooperative research initiatives, professionally-focussed qualifications and consultancy interventions.
The Forum works in close partnership with other bodies, such as the Academy for HRD (based in North America) and the European Foundation for HRD (based in Brussels) amongst others in support of this mission.
The UFHRD is a relatively young organisation with old roots, and its nature reflects these. It is best described as a voluntary network or an informal association stemming from two separate initiatives in the in the late 1980s. The first of these was at national government level and was the introduction of national competence based vocational qualifications (NVQs) following extensive consultation with professional bodies, providers and potential recipients (See Lee (2004); Lee & Stead (1998) for a discussion of this). The second was an initiative by the of and Development (ITD) which was at that time the professional body for HRD practitioners.The ITD already had qualifications at certificate and diploma level, with some universities established providers of programmes leading to those awards and sought to encourage provision of masters’ level degree programmes in universities to provide for the continuing professional development of its members. The ITD also at around the same time decided to reform its established qualifications at certificate and diploma levels to incorporate the new national competence based qualifications. Universities providing ITD related qualification programmes were faced with two challenges; first to develop new masters level programmes and second to reform existing certificate and diploma programmes so that they would also meet the requirements of the then new national vocational qualifications. Other Universities that provided non-vocational higher degrees in such areas as management learning, behaviour in organisations and education more generally were also challenged by the increasing focus on vocational education to review their curricula and incorporate professional requirements or lose their student body. Yet others were interested in researching the dilemmas of dual qualification programmes, and the impact of Vocational Education on the discipline. As a response to these challenges some universities took advantage of the help and resource of a man named Alan Moon, a retired college Principal, who was funded for some of his time by the ITD to promote and support the two initiatives embraced by the professional body. These universities began a cooperation facilitated by Alan Moon and hosted by the government body The National Council for Vocational Qualifications (NCVQ) that was charged with supporting the development of NVQs.They met to share ideas and discuss ways forward. The focus was to develop masters’ programmes and to reform certificate and diploma programmes in a way that reflected new national policies, the needs of the profession and the requirements of higher education institutions rooted in non-vocational qualification structures. Out of this cooperation arose a loose network of academics which became known by its members as the Euston Road Group (ERG). The name derives from the location of the NCVQ which was next to Euston station as they provided a room in their premises and usually a free lunch for meetings of the ERG. University members of ERG spanned a range of institutional types and needs – each university having its own systems, requirements and understandings. Notwithstanding the difficulty of aligning university systems, the ERG also sought to associate these to national vocational requirements and the expectations of the ITD as the relevant professional body. After much discussion (and many sandwich lunches) some general principles were agreed and applied. The early programmes sought and gained recognition from the ITD and contributed in part or whole to NVQ’s – thus the universities of the ERG, with the support of ITD and the National Council for Vocational Qualifications offered the first dual (or triple) qualification Masters Degree courses in HRD in the UK, and supported the development of many later programmes in other institutions. At the same time, and in a reflexive manner, some members were looking at the implications of such provision and opening this up as an area for research. In the early 1990s the name ERG became redundant as the NCVQ withdrew support and so the loose association had to decide whether to continue and, if so, what name to adopt. There were at the time around 15 academics from around a dozen or so universities actively involved in the ERG and they decided the benefits were worth continuing and Alan Moon suggested UFHRD as a name. And so the Forum came into being. A key purpose and characteristic of the work of ERG was a focus on developing qualification programmes and so, since it is universities rather than individual academics that provide programmes and award qualifications, it was judged appropriate that the word ‘university’ feature in the name and that universities rather than individuals should constitute members. A constitution was agreed and operating principles established. The ITD continued to fund the time of Alan Moon who at this point became the first Executive Secretary of the Forum. In 1994 a merger of what was then the Institute of Personnel Management (IPM), a body strongly focused on personnel professionals, and the Institute of Training and Development created what is now the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) which in 1998 withdrew funding for the time of Alan Moon and so for the activities of UFHRD. A new constitution was adopted which allowed for subscription fees to be charged to University members. The current constitution, adopted in 2004, continues and expands the original aims of UFHRD.
The Forum holds regular events across Europe, provides small research honoraria, and fosters research-based and professional networking and collaboration. The Forum sponsors and hosts an annual European conference on HRD research and practice. Activities of the Forum revolve around its three committees:
The Research Group
The Programme and Qualifications Group
The Practitioner/Organisation Group
The Forum’s Council meets three times a year and a workshop, seminar etc is often held on the same day or the following day.
- Engagement in an active community of scholars and reflective practitioners.
- Access to cutting edge research and practice.
- Partnership with leading professional and academic bodies.
- Access to Human Resource Development International, a leading international journal, available at subsidised rates.
- An annual European conference with leading speakers and participants from across the world.
- Access to a wide range of events hosted by members throughout the year, including research seminars, practice workshops and publication workshops.
- Access to the small research honoraria.
- Access to a wide range of conference papers and other publications by members.
- Access to a global database and partnership links to other databases.
- Engage in the development of qualification frameworks in Europe and beyond.
- Engage in the development of European research partnerships.
President: Professor Jim McGoldrick
Chair: Professor Jim Stewart
Vice Chair Research: Sue Shaw
Vice Chair Practitioner and Organisational Activities: Nicholas Clarke
Vice Chair Programmes and Qualifications: Paul Tosey
Honorary Treasurer: Professor Bob Hamlin
Executive Secretary : Professor Monica Lee