UCL Human Resources


UCL Appraisal, Review and Development Scheme


  1. Scope and Purpose of the Scheme
  2. Frequency and Timing of the Review
  3. Appraisers
  4. The Review Process
  5. Preparation
  6. Review Discussion
  7. Documentation
  8. Follow-up
  9. Monitoring of the policy
  10. Links to other policies
  11. Forms

1. Scope and Purpose of the Scheme

1.1 This scheme applies to all staff once they have satisfactorily completed their probation period. For staff not subject to probation, objectives should be set within the first three months of appointment to commence the cycle. Professorial staff should use the information in this scheme in conjunction with the online Professorial Appraisal  Review (PAR) system to complete appraisal.

1.2 UCL's commitment to regular appraisal is founded on the belief that all members of staff have a right to a clear understanding of their department's expectations of them, an opportunity for detailed discussion of their contribution to the achievement of departmental and institutional goals and to feel valued. Appraisal is designed to facilitate effective two-way communication and is a key mechanism for identifying training and development needs and ensuring that they are met.

1.3 The Appraisal Review and Development Scheme (hereafter referred to as appraisal) aims to:

  • enhance the work of the department and the success of UCL through assisting individuals to develop to their full potential
  • identify strengths and development needs and enable discussion of career aspirations
  • ensure regular discussion of an individual's progress against aims and objectives
  • enhance communication within departments
  • review and meet the developmental needs of staff in line with the UCL Ways of Working .If the Appraisee is in professional services, otherwise the UCL Core  Behaviours should be used.
  • inform professorial salary review

1.4 Staff review should also reinforce awareness of UCL's equality, diversity and inclusion

(EDI) policies and staff responsibilities in relation to these. Consideration of how EDI issues can be central to the planning, development, implementation, monitoring and review of both the work of the Department and the individual member of staff should be built into the process. It should acknowledge the contribution staff have made through service on UCL’s EDI networks and advisory groups as a key enabling activity to encourage personal development outside the parameters of their job role. The UCL  Ways of Working should also be reinforced during this meeting for employees in professional services. Otherwise the UCL Core Behaviours Framework should be referenced.

1.5 There are separate procedures that determine pay for staff in grades 1 to 9, grading or promotion, and for discipline and capability.

2. Frequency and Timing of the Review

2.1 All staff appraisals should be conducted on an annual basis.

2.2 It is the responsibility of the Head of Department/Division to ensure that all staff in their department are reviewed in line with this scheme. The first review will take place no later than 6 months following the satisfactory completion of probation, but after 12 months where objectives are set as part of the end of probation review. Heads of Department should agree objectives with newly appointed academic staff who are not subject to a probationary period within the first three months of appointment to start the appraisal cycle. The Appraiser and Appraisee should agree a mutually convenient time to meet, such that both parties have sufficient time to prepare for the meeting.

2.3 Staff transferring to a position in another UCL department should have an outgoing appraisal review prior to starting the new position. The appraisal must be recorded by the manager in MyHR.

3. Appraisers

3.1 Academic staff will be reviewed either by the Head of Department/Division or another senior member of the department appointed by the Head. The Dean will review Heads of Departments and the appropriate Vice-Provost will review Deans. Exceptionally, a member of academic staff may question the appointment of their Appraiser if they feel that the choice of Appraiser is inappropriate or that they are insufficiently aware of their work. Where appropriate, the Director of Human Resources will identify an alternative Appraiser in consultation with the Dean or Vice Provost.

3.2 The Head of Department/Division will determine which staff undertake the role of Appraiser. Normally non-academic staff will be reviewed by the manager to whom they report and who assigns and is accountable for their work. Appraisers will not normally review more than 9 members of staff in any one year and therefore the Head of Department/Division may nominate alternative Appraisers. Heads wishing to review a larger number of staff should discuss their plans with the Director of Human Resources. The Head of Department/Division or Head of Section should see all completed review forms for staff in their Department/Division/Section, regardless of whether they are the Appraiser.

3.3 All Appraisers must have completed appropriate training and briefing will be offered to Appraisees. Organisational and Staff Development will keep records of all Appraisers who have completed appropriate training. Training includes advice regarding sensitivity to equality and diversity issues.

4. The Review Process

4.1 The review process is most beneficial when it generates an open and honest joint review of past achievements, future goals and the assistance and support needed to achieve them. Thorough preparation by both Appraiser and Appraisee is very important. Sufficient time should be set aside for the meeting and the Appraiser should ensure that a suitable room is available, which offers privacy and freedom from interruption.

5. Preparation

5.1 Prior to a round of staff review meetings, the Head of Department should ensure that all Appraisers have been trained and are aware of any departmental plans, objectives and priorities for the review period that will affect staff.

5.2 Professorial staff and their managers will use the Professorial Appraisal Review (PAR) system, all fields of which must be completed online.

5.3 For those not using the PAR, part A of the review document is designed to facilitate preparation for the review meeting and is to be completed by the Appraisee and submitted to the Appraiser a week before the review meeting is due to take place. In completing Part A of the form Appraisees should consider the key tasks successfully undertaken since the last review (in light of the aims and objectives for that period), their strengths and any new skills they might need in the context of the challenges likely to be encountered in the coming year If the Appraisee is in professional services the UCL Ways of Working should be used in discussion relating to strengths and requirements in relation to behaviours, otherwise the Core Behaviours Framework and the expectations contained in the UCL Strategy, ‘UCL 2034’ should be used. (see 5.4, below).

5.4 Academic, research and teaching staff should consider the skills they need to develop in light of the expectations contained in the UCL Strategy, UCL 2034’. They should also consider whether the support, training and development that has been provided by their manager or colleagues has enabled them to do their job effectively, and any general points they would like to discuss that they feel would lead to enhanced efficiency.

5.5 Part A of the review document should be accompanied by a current job description or list of responsibilities and a summary of any significant changes to the individual's CV that have occurred since the last review. Many Appraisers find it helpful to meet briefly with the Appraisee when Part A of the document has been completed, to ensure that both parties are clear of the purpose of the review and the range of issues that will be discussed.

5.6 Prior to the meeting, the Appraiser should read Part A of the review document and accompanying paperwork. They should also give consideration to the individual's achievements and contributions to the work of the department since the last review, their strengths and any new skills they might need in light of their likely range of objectives for the review period.

6. Review Discussion

6.1 The discussion should include any changes to the individual's job (either over the last

year or foreseen in the coming year) and a review of workloads and working arrangements. The Appraiser and Appraisee should be mindful of UCL's policy on Managing Stress at Work and should ensure that any areas of unacceptable stress are identified. The discussion should also cover any working practices within the department, Faculty or UCL that have affected the work and effectiveness of the Appraisee. The Appraisee's career aspirations should inform the discussion and academic staff may wish to confirm the details of any aspirations for sabbatical leave.

6.2 The review discussion should centre on the work of the Appraisee in light of their major responsibilities over the review period. Progress against objectives set at the last review should be examined and if objectives have not been met or have changed, the reason for this should be discussed. If this is the first meeting after the successful completion of probation, written objectives may not already be in existence. Objectives for the forthcoming review period should then be discussed and agreed.

6.3 Objectives must be sufficiently specific to be measurable (either quantitatively or qualitatively), must be relevant to the postholder's work and achievable within an agreed period. It is acknowledged that due to changed circumstances or priorities objectives may change within the review period. In particular, research objectives may change within the review period or the research direction may change as the research progresses. Objectives should be updated, in discussion and agreement between manager and employee, at the time the change occurs.

6.4 The review discussion should also consider the Appraisee's career aspirations and future plans such as undertaking professional or educational courses or taking sabbatical leave (academic staff only). It may be helpful for Appraisers to raise awareness of relevant career development opportunities in the department and faculty/ division including new projects and acting up opportunities. When discussing future plans, it may be appropriate to discuss retirement. Staff may voluntarily retire at a time of their choice and are encouraged to discuss retirement plans as early as possible with their manager to aid future planning. It may be helpful to discuss gradual or full retirement options including part-time working, flexible working, flexible  retirement, early retirement or normal retirement. Some staff may not want to discuss retirement and Appraisers should be respectful of these wishes.

6.5 It is important to ensure that the meeting closes with both parties having a mutual understanding of what needs to be done in the review period, by whom and any follow-up action that is required.

7. Documentation

7.1 Part B of the review document should be completed within 10 working days of the meeting and should summarise the content of the discussion and record the objectives that have been agreed. Any action that needs to be undertaken by the line manager or others in the department to facilitate the successful completion of an objective should also be noted. Both Appraiser and Appraisee should sign the record of the review meeting (part B of the review document) and each will retain a copy. For professors using the PAR system this will be an electronic sign off.

7.2 Part C of the review document should be completed by the Appraiser to record any training or development needs required to enable achievement of agreed objectives, UCL's Core Behaviours expectations and the expectations contained in the UCL Strategy, UCL 2034’ (see 5.4, above). If the Appraisee is in professional services expectations relating to behaviours should relate to the UCL Ways of Working  otherwise UCL’s Core Behaviours should be used. The UCL Ways of Working Steps to Development signpost appropriate development responses to identified behavioural needs.

The purpose of recording training and development needs is to commit the department, the individual and UCL's training providers to working together (where appropriate), identifying appropriate training and development activity, and arranging attendance. Information about training needs across UCL enables these Units to plan their training programme accordingly. Staff wishing to request financial assistance for part time study for degrees, vocational or professional qualifications should identify their intentions in the course of staff review discussions.

After completion by the Appraiser, both the Appraiser and Appraisee should retain a copy of Part C and use it to identify appropriate training and development activities. A record of the appraisal review should be recorded by either the relevant line manager or a nominated administrator using  MyHR. Step-by-step instructions are found in the UCL Knowledge Centre, under MyHR Manager Self Service – My team employment information - ‘Create employee performance appraisal’.  

This form should not be sent to OD, but retained locally and used as the basis for discussion and agreement as to how identified training and development needs are prioritised and addressed.

7.3 The Appraisal Review form is strictly confidential and must be stored securely within the Department. It should be accessible only to the Appraiser, the Appraisee, the Head of Department or the Head of Section where they are not the Appraiser. The whole report must be available to the Appraiser and Appraisee for the individual's next review. The PAR system allows those within the appraisee's management chain to access data on their achievements, contributions and progress against objectives in order that it can inform biennial salary review.

8. Follow-up

8.1 It is essential that follow-up action identified in the review meeting is carried out.

Appraisers are encouraged to meet Appraisees informally through the year to discuss progress against objectives and the outcome of training and development activity, as appropriate.

8.2 Following the review cycle, Heads of Department/Division should ideally meet with the Appraisers in their department and, while not discussing individual cases, should consider any broad issues raised within the review process. In this discussion the head of department /division should discuss with Appraisers the department/division's progress in relation to UCL 2034 and Core Behaviours. If the Appraisee is in professional services the UCL Ways of Working should be used in discussions relating to behaviours.

This may identify departmental training needs that could be addressed by Organisational Development. It is the Head of Department/Division's responsibility to put a mechanism in place that ensures that training needs identified through staff review are followed up. The Head should also agree the priority of the different training needs identified. Organisational Development is available to offer advice.

8.3 In the event of disagreement over the content of part B or C of the review documentation, which cannot be resolved by the Appraisee and Appraiser, the Appraisee should raise their concerns in writing with the Appraiser's line manager within 10 working days of the receipt of the completed review document. The attached form should be used for that purpose. Concerns raised about a review undertaken by the Head of an academic department will be considered by the Dean. Concerns raised about a review undertaken by the Head of an administrative division will be considered by the appropriate Vice-Provost. The Appraiser's line manager/Dean/Vice-Provost will meet with the Appraiser and Appraisee to consider the concerns raised and will then advise the Appraisee of their decision in writing, as soon as possible.

9. Monitoring of the policy

9.1 It is the responsibility of Heads of Department/Divisions to ensure that the policy is implemented. The Director of Human Resources will inform the Provost, Vice-Provost, Dean or Head of Department/Division (as appropriate) in cases where reviews are not carried out in accordance with this policy. Anonymised, aggregated, monitoring data in relation to the staff review process will be reported annually by HR to the Human Resources Policy Committee by ethnicity, sex and disability.

10. Links to other policies

10.1 The Appraisal Review and Development Scheme is not linked to procedures that determine pay, grading or promotion, for which UCL has separate arrangements, although staff may choose to discuss their aspirations for promotion and career development with their Appraiser. Concerns regarding conduct, performance or training needs identified between review meetings should be discussed when they are identified and should not be left for discussion at the next review session. The Appraisal Review and Development Scheme should not be used to address matters that fall within the remit of the Disciplinary Procedure or the Capability Policy.

10.2 It is recommended that all staff have an up to date job description and the opportunity to develop or revise one should be taken either before or immediately following the review meeting. If following revision of a job description the change is felt to be considerable, non-academic job descriptions may be submitted to UCL Human Resources for a grading review. The procedure and policy relating to grading review is available on the UCL Human Resources web pages. If a member of academic staff feels that their work allocation requires review they should raise the matter with their Head of Department. UCL has a policy on Managing Stress at Work and all Appraisers must be aware of the content of that policy before undertaking a review. In line with UCL's commitment to equality of opportunity this policy will be applied equitably to all staff to whom it applies.

Please refer to guidance on setting SMARTER objectives.

11. Forms

Updated November 2020 Employment Policy Team