Professorial Pay Review 2008

New: Appeal Procedure (PDF)

UCL HR Professorial Pay website (password protected)

LATEST: Colleagues should currently be receiving their outcome letters from HR. 

UCL UCU are receiving a number of concerned responses from members about the timescale. We are in the process of trying to clarify procedures with HR and will post updates to members as we get them.

We are organising a meeting for Wednesday 12 November at 1pm (JZ Young Lecture Theatre, Anatomy).

What UCL are proposing

The proposals are twofold: 

Pay Banding - 2008

The criteria are based on Professorial Promotion criteria, but extended upwards: 

  • Bands 2, 3: hit X out of Y qualitative criteria (with a concentration on research).
  • We proposed to do a dry run with first 10% of submissions to see whether criteria are realistic and discipline neutral.

The first process will be for UCL to collect CVs from Professors and for these to be evaluated by a group of Deans. We need to be concerned about monitoring the consistency of decisions.

There will then be a process of matching staff to bands:

  • Promotion: Pay will go up to bottom of next band.
  • Demotion: 2 year pay protection, then frozen.
  • October/November onwards appeal.

Going forward: staff can apply for promotion between bands annually.

Cost: UCL spending twice 2007 budget for promotions

Banding Criteria

There will be 3 bands:

General points

Inclusive principle: criteria are worded in a deliberately general way (but must be measurable).

Are criteria possible to fulfil in all disciplines? UCL says they may not be. Formalising criteria does not necessarily imply equality across disciplines. Current professorial salaries are skewed. Without data we don't really know the answer to this question - hence the plan for a 5 year review.

Biennial review - starts 2009

It is proposed that this process will follow on from biennial appraisal. We have concerns about the linkage of appraisal to salary increases. This is a performance related pay scheme (but a slightly more transparent PRP scheme than hitherto). Since Professors are managed by their Head of Department, the initial evaluation will be by the HoD.

Professors will be required to complete a report of their achievements and progress against their objectives. There will be a web-based form to be completed. The evaluation will be based on a 'judgment of contribution' (relative to set objectives). 

  • 'below par': freeze in salary - support should be offered
  • 'above par': real terms salary rise

There will be an appeal process outside the department and Professsors will have rights of union representation. 

Concerns include: 

  • the introduction of the possibility of a 'below par' evaluation leading to a real-terms pay freeze (UCL state that the alternative would be the use of the Capability Procedure).
  • how consistent / viable are these objectives?
  • how much are objectives within the gift of the Professor?


  • Improvement of the criteria?
  • Ensuring proper process, fairness, consistency?
  • Review after five years


  • What about Professors who undertake UCL-wide roles that HoDs cannot reasonably evaluate? (the process needs to deal with this)
  • Will the band parameters increase with pay awards? (yes)
  • How regularly can one apply to change bands? (annually) 
  • How often can one receive a salary increase in band? (biennially)
  • Can one receive a salary increase within band if one has unsuccessfully applied to change band? (yes - different criteria for success) 
  • How good is the data on corporate databases? (offer to help test the interactive form gratefully accepted)

Discussion Piece

Academic Freedom and Professorial Pay Review

The Professorial Pay Review (henceforth PPR) represents one of a number of recent changes in College policy for 'modernising' the terms of reference and conditions of employment of professors and senior staff. There are a number of positive arguments in favour of developing such a scheme, including the aim of attempting to make pay rewards more transparent and fair. However the proposals must also be considered in terms of their likely and potential impact on academic freedom.

The PPR includes two central propositions:

  1. a centrally-assessed value system of achievement by which salaries may be rewarded, and
  2. existing academic review is to be regularised and connected to the setting of interim academic goals between professors and their heads of department, with rewards for achievement and penalties for failure.

The proposals represent a continuity with certain current trends. Proposition 1 criteria are said to be based on the Academic Excellence document, although in attempting to set clear boundary conditions, much of the original's flexibility appears to have been set aside. Proposition 2 represents the institutionalisation of target-setting by heads of departments, a process that has led to a small but significant number of claims of unreasonable pressure in the context of the recent Regeneration Programme.

Therefore it should not be surprising that there are widespread concerns that these propositions are likely to affect academic freedom in College. To take Proposition 2 first, the requirement that heads of department set targets and assess achievement against them, with the potential outcome that a professor suffer a reduction in real-terms salary, necessarily represents a change in the relationship between heads of department and professors. These targets are likely to include material outcomes from research: publication of papers in particular journals, obtaining research grants and so forth. Note that, in evaluating targets, performance (applying for a grant) and attainment (gaining the award) must not be confused.

The PPR's value system currently elevates 'enabling' and 'knowledge transfer' over scholarship and risks encouraging game-playing by academics seeking promotion. The focus on specific achievements, prizes and awards is not new - named Chairs have been with us from UCL's foundation - but is here generalised and formalised.

When academic freedom is discussed it is often considered in relation to academic freedom of speech. This is, of course, how Statutes define it. However

  1. freedom is not a 'thing in itself' but the absence of constraint, and
  2. academic freedom is not reducible to freedom of speech.

The first observation implies that absolute freedom is not achievable in a society - such as a university - where individuals' freedoms impinge on each other. Rather, the question is one of the defence of relative academic freedom where limits are proscribed by rules, obligations and material constraints (funding, space and time). Within a university, constraints may be set externally, set and enforced by a single individual, arrived at by mutual consent, or typically, by a combination of all three.

The second observation has oddly become increasingly controversial of late. Here it is worth noting that firstly, freedom of speech is not limited to academics, and secondly, academics are not principally valued outside of academia for their speech, but their activity. In other words, the 'academic' in 'academic freedom' refers to the life-activity of academics, university research and scholarship, unique in wider society. 

As one of our contributors put it "...academic freedom permits creativity and imagination to flourish. It is what makes UCL a university... And if creativity is so central to the role of a university, it becomes important to ask in what kind of climate/soil does creativity flourish? To which my answer would be: where the people expected to be creative feel maximum autonomy and confidence."

From this point of view it is not necessary or desirable to be prescriptive in the defence of academic freedom. The specific value of academic freedom of speech is in the articulation of a defence of wider academic freedom of inquiry. As we have noted this is not to make a straw man of the claim that academic freedom of inquiry should be absolute. However it is to recognise that the public compact between wider society and its universities is to fund university research and scholarship that is not tied to narrow interests, whether these be political, commercial or self-interest.

The role of Academic Board is to provide the academic collective forum for the debate of academic freedom and related matters concerning university life. It is right and proper that AB debate this particular question and remain vigilant in the defence of academic freedom.

UCL UCU Executive Committee

Appendix A - Professorial Banding criteria - FINAL

Band 1 (UCL's promotion criteria)

Promotion to Professor is on the basis of outstanding research coupled with a strong record of teaching, knowledge transfer/exchange and enabling or it may be based on exceptionally innovative/creative contributions to teaching, coupled with a satisfactory record of research, knowledge transfer/exchange and enabling. In the latter case, evidence is required that the contribution is outstanding, that it is recognised nationally and / or internationally as such, and that it has been widely effective in improving or enhancing teaching practice (diligent and skilful teaching practice and / or an intensive teaching schedule are not, per se, an adequate basis for promotion in this context). Not all newly promoted/appointed Professors will meet all of the following criteria:


  • An outstanding international research profile with substantial seminal contributions to knowledge or other outcomes appropriate to the discipline,
  • As appropriate to the discipline, evidence of successful collaborations with other research teams/Institutions and significant and sustained success in obtaining research grants.
  • An appropriate number of research students successfully supervised and, as appropriate to the discipline, proven and sustained success in research leadership and/or management of a research team.

Knowledge transfer

  • Involvement (as appropriate to the discipline) in knowledge transfer/exchange which impacts on practice or on quality of life through ongoing engagement with communities.


  • Evidence of developing and delivering challenging and innovative learning activities/teaching materials and of evaluating their impact on student learning.
  • Experience of introducing innovative changes to the curriculum and of a significant contribution to the skills/knowledge base in relation to teaching and learning within an Institution and/or discipline.


  • Evidence of academic leadership and a proven ability to lead, develop and motivate colleagues, working as part of a team to achieve Departmental, Faculty or UCL goals.
  • Evidence of contributions to peer review bodies/committees, professional organisations, learned societies, government committees or Research Councils etc.
  • Well-developed enabling skills and evidence of a significant contribution to the management/administration of a Department/Faculty at UCL.

Band 2

Applicants must demonstrate that they continue to meet the criteria of a Band 1 Professor and that in addition they meet 4 out of 5 of the following. The criteria will be applied in a manner appropriate to the discipline.


In addition to the Band 1 research criteria of an outstanding international research profile, evidence of successful collaborations with other research teams/institutions, sustained success in obtaining research grants/projects and an appropriate number of research students supervised.

  • Evidence of active involvement in the development and achievement of the research strategy within the Faculty. 
  • Acknowledgement of the importance of one's work, for example through 

    • the award of Fellowships of learned societies, or 
    • highly prestigious prizes and other such honours.

Knowledge transfer

  • Substantial engagement with national or international partners in the public dissemination of information to the benefit of the community, or the population at large or to the commercial sector. 

    Some examples of partners in the area of knowledge transfer are NGOs, Museums, Government Departments & Non-Departmental Public Bodies, Charities, International Foundations, Arts and Science Festivals, Schools, Beacon Projects for public engagement, the Media etc.


  • Active, ongoing leadership of review (or development of) the curriculum or teaching/assessment methodologies or the management of teaching within UCL


  • A successful and effective contribution to the achievement of UCL's strategic goals beyond the area of research and teaching (for example in widening participation, in implementing the International Strategy, furthering equality and diversity or UCL's Capital campaign internally to UCL or through negotiating complex partnerships, representing UCL on matters of key importance overseas or in the local community or through fundraising).

[Changes from initial proposal: reduce two Enabling criteria to one; second Research criterion treated as examples.]

Band 3

It is expected that only a very small number of academics within the UK will meet these criteria.

Applicants must demonstrate that they continue to meet the criteria of a Band 2 Professor and that in addition they meet the research criteria detailed below and the criteria under two of the other three headings. The criteria will be applied in a manner appropriate to the discipline. 


  • World leading, paradigm shifting research which is acknowledged globally as such and which is funded substantially from external sources.

Knowledge Transfer

  • Acting as lead advisor to national governmental or related agency or international bodies such as the EU, the UN, UNESCO etc. on global issues; or
  • Advancing and broadening public understanding of the discipline in significant and highly public ways for example by advisory or consultancy work outside academia; or
  • Evidence that research has been successfully and sustainably commercialised.


  • Makes a seminal contribution to the development and delivery of teaching in own subject area or an educational contribution on a regular basis to national or international audiences.


  • Evidence of an active role in the strategic development and management of the Faculty; or
  • Evidence of significant and influential involvement in UCL wide activity furthering UCL's strategic aims.

[Changes from initial proposal: significant - attached as Appendix B below.]

Appendix B - proposed Band 3 criteria (Feb 2008)

Band 3

Applicants must demonstrate that they continue to meet the criteria of a Band 2 Professor and that in addition they meet 6 of the 10 following criteria


  • World leading research in own discipline (funded continuously from external sources where appropriate to the discipline) and international collaborations at world leading institutions.
  • World class reputation such that his/her research group (if s/he has one) are recruited from around the world and s/he is sought after to present prestigious named lectures.
  • A continuous stream of doctoral and post doctoral students with an outstanding record of progression in their chosen field on completion. A record of consistently developing other researchers either within his/her group and/or through collaboration or sharing of expertise outside own Faculty and UCL.

Knowledge Transfer

  • Lead advisor to national governmental or related agencies or international bodies such as the EU, the UN, UNESCO etc. on global issues.
  • Advisory or consultancy work that has, and continues to significantly broaden the understanding of the discipline.
  • Evidence of successfully developing own work for the commercial market through patents and licenses, spin out companies etc. and of sharing expertise in this regard.


  • Maintains active leadership of

    • review/development of the curriculum or 
    • teaching/assessment methodologies or 
    • the management of teaching within UCL.
  • Makes a seminal contribution to the development and delivery of teaching in own subject area or an educational contribution on a regular basis to national or international audiences.


  • Evidence of an active role in the strategic development and management of the Faculty.
  • Evidence of significant and influential involvement in UCL wide activity furthering UCL's strategic aims.