UCL Human Resources


Recruitment and Reward of Senior Academic Leadership Roles



1. Senior academic leadership roles are vitally important to the continued success of UCL and therefore the selection and reward arrangements for these roles must be transparent and fit for purpose. This document is designed to outline a common framework for senior academic leadership roles to ensure consistent arrangements across UCL.


2. Primarily the guidance in this document relates to Directors/Heads of Department/Institute recognised by Council, Vice Dean and Pro Vice Provost roles which are commonly in place across academic Faculties. However, many of the principles outlined in this guide could be applied to other academic leadership roles present in specific local academic areas.

Recruitment and Selection

3. Selection and recruitment of senior academic leadership roles should be based on the principles of transparency and fairness following the process outlined in the UCL recruitment and selection policy, where appropriate. In practical terms, as a minimum HoD and Vice-Dean vacancies should be openly advertised to all internal senior academic staff who could effectively undertake them. Invitations for applications from staff interested in job share arrangements should be included in any advertisement. Alongside this, it is recommended that consideration is given to advertising these roles externally, particularly where this approach may help to address existing underrepresentation at senior levels.  All candidates should be directed towards the appropriate job description and related person specification (see appendices), which outline the responsibilities of the role and requisite knowledge, skills and experience.

4. Where more than one potentially suitable candidate is interested in a role a competitive interview should be held by a panel of at least three senior staff. That panel should normally be chaired by the Dean for HoD and Vice Dean roles and the applicable Vice Provost for Pro Vice Provost roles, who will determine which other colleagues should constitute the panel. Panels should comprise of at least 25% of women and ideally, in the case of HoD and Vice Dean roles, include a Vice-Provost.

5. In the case of external advertisement Deans (and others responsible for the recruitment of senior role holders) must be cognisant of regulations relating to the recruitment of senior academic roles, particularly where a professorial or Reader title may need to be conferred. Global search firms utilised for any academic leadership roles should be reminded as part of standard guidance at the start of any recruitment process, of the requirement to ensure a diverse range of candidates to facilitate more balanced representation within these roles.

6. It should be noted that HoD appointments are made by Provost, under delegated authority from the Council. Therefore, following interview, the Chair of the selection panel should make a recommendation to Provost for the appointment of a HoD.

7. Where only one candidate applies for a Vice-Dean or Pro Vice Provost role, the relevant Dean or Vice Provost may make a decision on their suitability for the role following a comparison of their skills and experience against the duties outlined in the job description. Good practice, and considerations of transparency, would suggest that the Dean should take advice from senior colleagues before appointing a Vice Dean or Pro Vice Provost from a pool of one.  For any HoD appointment a full interview must take place irrespective of the number of applicants shortlisted.

Induction, Training and Development

8. As a matter of course it is advisable that staff with leadership potential are identified and encouraged to undertake any strategic leadership training available. This should form part of their ongoing development, preferably prior to undertaking the senior leadership roles described in this guidance. Such an approach should help ensure that there is a pool of staff with already acquired strategic leadership skills from which to make a selection as roles become available.

9. Academic leaders should be given the opportunity to undertake appropriate leadership development to help them thrive in these strategically important roles. This is perhaps particularly important in the induction period. All HoDs should undertake the Head of Department Programme training within 9 months of starting the role and it is recommended that HoDs, Vice Deans and Pro Vice Provosts undertake any ongoing leadership training, particularly where they have not participated in any prior to taking up the role.

Reward arrangements

10. HoDs are paid an allowance for the role to recognise the specific leadership contribution in addition to their substantive professorial position. The allowances have been set with reference to the size and complexity of the academic department. UCL undertakes to periodically review the level of allowances, considering any significant internal changes to the area and any changes in the external market which may influence the allowance level.

11. At the end of their term Deans may consider incorporating a proportion of the allowance into the base salary of the HoD on their return to a professorial role. A maximum of 10% of the allowance could be available for each year of high performance in the role. Deans should set objectives related to academic leadership performance and should be cognisant of any A ratings during the term which indicate that exceptional performance has been achieved.

12. Vice-Dean, Pro Vice Provost and HoD positions are significant enabling roles and high performance in these roles should be seen as contributing towards the enabling criteria of the professorial bands. Equally there may be other significant leadership roles specific to a particular area of UCL (such as Heads of Research Departments in SLMS) where excellent leadership performance should contribute to the enabling criteria of the professorial bands.

Reappointment process

13HoDs, Vice-Deans and Pro Vice Provosts will normally be appointed for an initial duration of between three and five years. When the initial duration of a HoD or Vice Dean role is due to end, the current HoD may either be reappointed for a further fixed term, or return to their substantive academic position (providing they hold such a role).  To reappoint to the HoD, Vice Dean or Pro Vice Provost role the Dean or Vice Provost may either conduct an internal or external recruitment exercise, following the process outlined in 3.1-3.4. Alternatively, they may seek the views of academic and non-academic staff in the Faculty before determining whether a reappointment should be made. In the case of a HoD reappointment, the Dean would need to make a recommendation to Provost who will seek Council approval for the reappointment, irrespective of the selection method used.

Ending of HoD or Vice-Dean term

14. Where the term of the HoD, Vice-Dean or Pro Vice Provost is to end, the departing role holder will cease to undertake the leadership role and return to their substantive academic position (if applicable). It is recommended that consideration is given to granting the role holder a period of sabbatical leave, so that they are given the opportunity to ‘catch up’ on their research before integrating fully back into departmental life.

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Appendix 3

Appendix 4

Appendix 5