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Academic Promotions Guidance

Guidance applicable to all academic promotions

Contents


Introduction

1. This document defines the promotion procedures for staff on academic, research and teaching contracts at UCL. The criteria and procedures apply to clinical and non-clinical roles. There are no qualifying time restrictions on applying or reapplying for promotion or any designated period from which evidence can be bought forward. Candidates should however, give careful consideration to addressing any feedback received if reapplying for promotion following a previous unsuccessful attempt.

2. Cases for promotion will be assessed against the criteria set out in the Academic Careers Framework.  The Academic Careers Framework is a single document to be used by all academic, research and teaching staff. 

3. Staff should build their own case for promotion based on their personal achievements and impact and should use the criteria set out in the framework as a guide. No member of staff will be expected to meet all the criteria in any area of activity.  The criteria are representative examples and are not meant to cover every activity across UCL.  They are representative criteria, aimed at setting levels of expectation but they could never be totally comprehensive across such a large and complex organisation.  Panels will also use the framework as a guide.  Candidates should familiarise themselves with the framework and ensure that they select activities in their own promotions case that reflect their own experience, providing indicators of success and personal impact relevant to their own discipline, department and career.  Research active staff are expected to keep their IRIS profile up to date and to refer to the impact and achievements section of their profile when completing their application for promotion.  

4. The framework seeks to recognise the plurality of academic careers and allows for staff to build a case based on a range of areas of academic and university life.  It also allows staff with specialist careers to build a strong case for promotion.

5. As applicable this guidance should be read in conjunction with the procedures contained at the bottom of this page and linked below:

  • Process for Senior Academic Promotion (to Grades 9 and 10)
  • Process for promotion to grades 7 or 8

Further guidance on Building a Case for Promotion is contained here and case studies will be added in due course.

6. The standard academic promotion routes, based on the specific contract of employment held by members of academic staff at UCL, are outlined below. Staff who joined IOE prior to the merger with UCL, who remain on IOE terms, can apply across the various routes. Upon promotion UCL terms apply.

Academic promotions guidance for Researchers

Academic promotions guidance for Teaching staff

Academic promotions guidance for Professorial Staff

7. Staff should apply for promotion through the route applicable to their own current contract of employment (academic, research or teaching).  Normally, any switching of tracks (meaning a new type of contract) will be outside the promotions process and subject to open and fair competition into specified roles.  Further guidance outside the promotion process will be made available in due course.


Role of Heads of Department (HoDs) and Line Managers

8. HoDs play a crucial and pivotal role in academic career development and the provision of advice to staff who are considering applying for promotion. All HoDs should have attended an academic promotions workshop for Deans and HoDs and should have familiarised themselves with this guidance document and the Academic Careers Framework. 

9. Aspiration for promotion should be discussed as a matter of course in annual appraisal. Appraisal gives an opportunity to review trajectory against the Academic Careers Framework and discuss any areas of further development. Constructive feedback and recommendations for development should be an integral part of this process. Consideration should be given to any specific initiatives/areas of work that could be taken on which would best ensure career development over time.  All line managers of academic staff should therefore familiarise themselves with the Academic Careers Framework.

10. HoDs and other senior academic managers must be aware of equality and diversity issues. Promotion is a key mechanism by which staff progress through UCL and outcomes have a significant impact on UCL’s equalities objective to increase diversity at its highest grades. HoDs should ensure that institutional citizenship roles are allocated openly, fairly and transparently. Consideration should be given to enable all staff (including staff with caring responsibilities, disabled staff and part time staff) to undertake these roles, so that they are not disadvantaged in developing their careers. More information is contained in the personal circumstances section later in this guide.

11. It is recommended that HoDs ensure that appropriate mentoring opportunities are made available to colleagues in order to help develop their academic careers. Mentoring opportunities can be discussed at annual appraisals and they should be clearly communicated within departments to all academic staff.

12. To ensure consistency, it is recommended that each HoD should convene a yearly review panel consisting of senior members of the department to ensure that all staff are considered and assessed as to whether or not they should be encouraged to apply for promotion that year. The expertise of the panel members should cover the broad spectrum of academic life including education, research, enterprise, external engagement and institutional citizenship.  This is very important to ensure that staff have confidence that all cases will be considered fairly and equitably.


Personal circumstances

13. Candidates are encouraged to indicate any specific personal circumstances that may have affected their output. A range of personal circumstances can be taken into account, some examples are as follows:

  • absences due to maternity, adoption, parental or carer’s leave;
  • periods of part-time working;
  • breaks in employment due to non-consecutive fixed term contracts;
  • disability, including temporary incapacity that lasts for more than six months;
  • absence due to ill-health or injury;
  • career breaks of more than six consecutive months.

14. If candidates have any personal circumstances these should be detailed with their application. Invitations for example to supervise students or give talks which could not be taken up, should also be clearly listed under the relevant section in the CV. Whilst the various committees may take account of a reduced quantity of output, quality must be maintained.  Evidence of a candidate's work trajectory is important. Individual circumstances should be taken into account when career development is discussed to ensure no members of academic staff are overlooked for development opportunities or to undertake key departmental management roles.  It is the responsibility of HoDs to ensure such matters are proactively addressed in their Department.


Direct route cases (self-proposals)

15. Every member of academic staff has the right to propose him or herself for promotion without going through the HoD.  The procedure will be the same as that for standard applications except that the candidate will deal directly with the Faculty Dean. The HoD will have no direct role in such an application but will be informed by the Dean that a direct route application has been made. The Dean will consult with whomever he/she considers appropriate when preparing the case for presentation to the School Committee.   It is important to note the points in Paragraph 12 above, in terms of ensuring that appropriate expertise should be involved to cover the broad spectrum of academic life including education, research, enterprise, external engagement and institutional citizenship – as appropriate to the case. 


Restrictions on applying

16. Where an employee is subject to a disciplinary sanction they may be restricted from being promoted. Specifically:

  • If a member of staff is the subject of an investigation then the promotion is suspended until the investigation is completed;
  • Anyone with a final written warning cannot be considered for promotion that year;
  • If a member of staff has received a verbal or written warning then the nature of the warning is considered by the HoD and/or Dean, taking advice from UCL HR. 

Publishing Results

17. It is important that all successful candidates are recognised for their achievements and UCL HR will publish a list of all promoted staff on an annual basis.


Process for Senior Academic Promotion (to Grades 9 and 10)

18. All applications for promotion to Grades 9 and 10 (Associate Professor, Professor, Principal Research Fellow, Professorial Research Fellow, Principal Teaching Fellow and Professorial Teaching Fellow) are considered by the UCL Academic Promotions Committee annually, following the meetings and recommendations of four School Promotion Sub-Committees.  

19. The membership of the School Sub-Committees comprise of the relevant Executive Deans from each School, and nominated professorial members of staff from the Faculties. In the IOE, it comprises of the Pro-Directors plus nominated professorial members of staff from academic departments.


Eligibility

20. For promotion to Associate Professor or Professor, eligibility is restricted to:

  • Staff currently employed in an academic post, i.e. Lecturer (to Associate Professor), Senior Lecturer/Reader/Associate Professor (to Professor);
  • Senior/Principal Research Fellows with external Fellowships to whom UCL has made a contractual commitment of assimilation into an academic post on cessation of their Fellowship. To note, irrespective of promotion, the transfer to an academic role will only occur at the end of the Fellowship, although a candidate may be promoted to a higher graded Research role during the Fellowship;
  • NHS Consultants holding an appropriate and current honorary academic appointment at UCL; and
  • Research Council employees holding an appropriate and current honorary academic appointment at UCL.

21. For promotion to Principal Research Fellow or Professorial Research Fellow (Grades 9 or 10), eligibility is restricted to staff currently employed in a research post (and where staff are externally funded, dependent upon funding being available).

22. For promotion to Principal Teaching Fellow or Professorial Teaching Fellow (Grades 9 or 10), eligibility is restricted to staff currently employed in a Teaching Fellow or Senior Teaching Fellow post.


Senior Academic Promotions System


Key stages and timeline 2018/19 Promotions Round

Stage

Proposed Date

Launch 2018/19 Promotions application process. Candidates to complete application on the online system              

  10:30am 22 October 2018

Closing date for finalised applications. After this point, edits cannot be made

Midnight 3 December 2018

Heads of Department supporting documentation submission date

9:30am 17 December 2018

Referees contacted and references collated

January-March 2019

Two weeks additional information window opens

February 2019

Packs sent out to committee members

March-April 2019

School Committees meet

April-May 2019

Academic Promotions Committee meets

June 2019

Results confirmed

July 2019

New contracts issued

August 2019

Promotions implemented and new titles apply

October 2019

Supporting documentation

24. Electronic copies of the following documents are required.

  • CV - Candidates should note that all information must be presented using the template below: 

     
  • Personal Statement - The candidate's personal statement should indicate how they have demonstrated personal impact in relation to the criteria set out in the Academic Careers Framework. All candidates should refer to the Framework and to the Building a case for academic promotion document.  The statement may involve cross-reference to the CV and IRIS where appropriate. The personal statement should be restricted to two sides of A4 with a font size of Arial 11.  Do not include reference quotes or make comparisons to other individuals.
     
  • Publications List - The candidate's publications list should be produced via UCL's Research Publications System (RPS) database and listed in the order indicated in Promotions Annexure C - Publications list Preparation in the IOE, where historical RPS records may not be complete, a supplementary list of publications may also be submitted. 

     
  • Referees - Referees nominated by the candidate (see paragraphs 26-28 below for further guidance).

25. Follow the guidance on the promotions system and please note that once the application is submitted no further edits will be permitted. There will be a final opportunity for candidates to submit any additional information occurring after the initial deadline.  This will be in February.


Referee nominations

26. External and internal referees act as advisors to UCL. It is important that candidates and Heads of Department ensure in advance that the nominated referees are willing and available to act in this capacity.  Failure to do so may lead to problems in obtaining a reference.  Referees should be impartial/independent and should not include the immediate Head of Department, PhD supervisor, friends and relatives.

27. Letters from the Provost seeking the confidential opinion of referees will:

  • refer to the relevant criteria
     
  • request an estimation of the strength of the case
     
  • enclose a copy of the candidate's CV, personal statement, publication list and the criteria for promotion.
     
  • State whether they are a HoD or candidate reference

28. The number of references required for each particular role are outlined below:

Grade 9

Grade 10

 

Associate Professor

Principal Research Fellow

Principal Teaching Fellow

Professor

Professorial Research Fellow

Professorial Teaching Fellow

Candidate- internal referees

1

1

1

2

1

2

Candidate- external referees

2

2

2

2

3

2

HoD- internal referees

1

0

1

0

0

1

HoD- external referees

2

3

2

3

3

2

Total Referees

6

6

6

7

7

7

Please note that for promotion to Professor or Professorial Research Fellow at least 1 candidate and 1 HoD reference must be from an international source. This is important to demonstrate an international profile.


29.    Head of Department's supporting documentation (Dean if direct route case)

The Head of Department's supporting documentation should be uploaded by the Head of Department via the Senior Promotions Application by 9.30am on the 17th December 2018. The documents required are as follows:

  • A Head of Department's statement, signed and dated, not normally exceeding one side of A4 in length must include:
    • An assessment of the candidate against the promotion criteria with reference to the norms of the discipline particularly to innovation and dissemination beyond UCL;
       
    • If applicable and not included on CV, a statement regarding personal circumstances that have had an impact on the candidate's output.

In Direct Route cases, a Head of Department's statement is not applicable.

 


Processes for Promotion to Grades 7 and 8

30. The following guidance outlines the arrangement for consideration of promotion to all academic roles below grade 9. This includes promotion to:

  • Research Fellow (7)

  • Senior Research Fellow (8)

  • Senior Teaching Fellow (8)

  • Lecturer (8)

31. Information on eligibility and career routes for academic, research and teaching staff can be found in section 6. Whatever the route, the process by which promotions are considered is consistent. Promotion decisions taken by HoDs should always relate to an assessment of impact using the criteria in the Academic Careers Framework.  

32. Local variations in practice exist to promote equitable treatment for staff, including in the IOE and SLMS – where applications are reviewed at fixed points in the year. Staff should consult their Faculty Intranet pages for details. 

33. Automatic Promotion from Research Assistant (grade 6) to Research Fellow (grade 7) will take place when the member of staff obtains a relevant PhD. The promotion will be effected once the PhD has been awarded, and will be backdated to the date the PhD thesis was finally submitted (including corrections).  The HoD or Principal Investigator must write to the relevant contact in UCL HR Services to request a regrading on this basis, confirming respective dates of submission and award, and supplying appropriate supporting paperwork from the awarding body.

34. In all other cases, where promotion is not on the basis of gaining a relevant PhD, promotion should be based on a consideration of profile by the Head of Department, guided by the relevant academic careers framework criteria. The materials to be provided by the candidate to the Head of Department are listed below:

  • A Curriculum Vitae which must contain at least the required elements specified in the Curriculum Vitae template 

  • a brief self-assessment indicating how the candidate's activity matches the criteria for promotion contained within the academic career framework. This should be no longer than one side of A4; a detailed description is not required in this statement, but the candidate may wish to indicate the impact of their work and their future direction.  

35. The Head of Department should then assess the case using the relevant criteria held in the academic careers framework. Once agreed, s/he should write to HR Services, using this form, requesting formal confirmation of the promotion, When financial approval has been verified (for grant funded cases), Human Resources will send a new contract variation letter to the individual and arrange for payroll action to be taken.

36. Promotion from Research Assistant (grade 6) to Research Fellow (grade 7) can be considered at any time, either on the HoD's positive recommendation or following direct application by the individual to the HoD. In all other cases the member of staff will be promoted to the applicable grade 8 role (Research, Teaching or Academic) with effect from 1st October following confirmation being received.

Annual reports

37. UCL HR will write annually to Faculty Managers to indicate those individuals, whose grade should be actively reviewed, using the relevant criteria, as follows: 

  • A review of all staff who have served for 12 (or more) months on the highest point of grade 6 for Research Staff (which is point 26) will be undertaken by each HoD, using the Academic Careers Framework to assess whether they should be regraded to grade 7. 

  • Staff on Research Assistant (grade 6) for four or more years will be regraded to grade 7 automatically unless the duties undertaken do not fulfil the criteria for grade 7, or when in exceptional circumstances a recommendation to the contrary is made. Where the promotion is not supported, the individual should be informed of the reason for remaining on grade 6 and a written report should be forwarded to UCL HR (the relevant HR Advisory Services contact). 

  • HR will inform Faculty Managers of staff who have reached the maximum spine point of grade 7 in their Lecturer, Teaching Fellow or Research Fellow role.

 


1  Staff who joined the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) before its merger with UCL, and who remain on IOE terms and conditions, can apply across the various routes. Upon promotion UCL terms will apply (however, research staff with “protected academic status” will retain it).

Last updated October 2018