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Internal Academic Staff Promotions Procedure

1.    GENERAL PRINCIPLES

This procedure adheres to the principles of the Charter of Incorporation of Aston University and of its Equality and Diversity Policy.

The basis of academic promotion is assessment by one’s peers.  In support of this, the purpose of this procedure is to ensure that all applications for promotion are treated in a fair and impartial way, and in line with the strategic aims and objectives of the University.

The University is committed to act in a manner which does not discriminate, either directly or indirectly, in its promotion decisions.  It also recognises the need to take into account individual circumstances which may have resulted in a restricted opportunity for a staff member to perform to his or her potential.  Examples of such circumstances are given at Appendix H.

Good School and University citizenship is a prerequisite for consideration of applications for promotion.  Here, citizenship is defined as making a pro-active contribution to the activities of the School, Department and/or University that fall outside of the expectations of the role; getting involved and taking responsibility, without being asked, for making the things happen that have a contribution to the achievement of Aston First objectives and in support of Aston’s values (trust, empowerment, engagement, innovation, learning and scholarship, ambition); demonstrating commitment to working unselfishly and effectively to the benefit of others and the University.  Staff should demonstrate how they have met the leadership expectations of Aston First: inspiring others and gaining commitment; recognising and rewarding high performance; remaining open to new ideas and seeking to act quickly for positive change; attracting, retaining and developing outstanding staff; being ambitious for themselves, their teams and the University; engaging with staff by listening, observing and communicating; focussing on excellent customer service; being decisive and making balanced judgements; empowering staff to make reasoned decisions without fear of blame; engendering trust through their own actions; being fair in all matters

Staff should expect that activities and achievements which contribute primarily to the development and success of the University and its aims and objectives (as opposed to those which contribute primarily to the standing of the individual) will be viewed particularly positively.

2.    ACADEMIC ROLE PROFILES AND PROMOTION CRITERIA

Details of the roles and responsibilities associated with each academic grade are given in the University’s academic role profiles.  The promotion criteria outlined below indicate the type of evidence that is required for promotion at each level.  

Academic positions are by their nature diverse.  Applicants should note that the Academic Role Profiles therefore focus on the main features of jobs within the University, and are not detailed descriptions of the activities of particular jobs.  They provide an indication of the minimum level of the work which should be undertaken within each academic grade.  Applicants for promotion are not required to provide evidence that they are undertaking every aspect of a Role Profile.

Applicants may wish to build other aspects of their roles into their case for promotion.  Executive Deans (and line managers/PDR Reviewers) should be encouraging staff (where appropriate) to undertake some duties identifiable as characteristic of the grade above.  Evidence of such activities will strengthen the case for promotion.

3.    PROMOTIONS PROCEDURE

3.1        Each year, the Vice-Chancellor will initiate an academic staff promotions review.  Applications for promotion will be invited from Lecturers, Senior Lecturers and Readers, and will be considered on the basis of the criteria in Appendix A.

3.2        The arrangements for reviewing Lecturers at Grade 8, with a view to promoting them to Lecturer Grade 9 fall within this review.  The procedure is set out at Appendix F.

3.3       Those wishing to apply should complete either the application form for promotion to grade 10 and above or the application form for progression to grade 9.  Members of staff should indicate the level of promotion and the grounds on which they wish to be considered on the Application Form. 

3.4       The Executive Dean (or his/her nominee) should be available to discuss applications with individual members of staff prior to the deadline for submitting applications.  Applicants should approach their Executive Dean (or nominee) for advice and guidance on their application, and also to talk to other relevant individuals such as members of the Professoriate. 

3.5        Drop-in sessions will also be held by the relevant Pro-Vice-Chancellors with whom staff members wishing to explore applying for promotion are encouraged to engage.  Pro-Vice-Chancellors will also be available to staff for follow-up discussions on a one-to-one basis.

3.6        Staff applying for promotion should reach agreement with their Executive Dean (or nominee) on the factual information presented on the application form.  If they cannot agree, they should indicate on the form where they differ.

3.7        Applicants should normally have been employed at their current grade for at least one year before applying for promotion.  Following a promotion it will generally take a number of years to reach the next level.

3.8        The School Promotions Committee will evaluate the level of achievement and overall strength of the application against the promotion criteria before deciding which applications to submit to the University Promotions Committee for further consideration.

3.9        The Executive Dean will inform those whose applications the Committee considers should not proceed of the reasons for this decision.  Candidates who are not successful at this stage are encouraged to discuss with their Executive Dean (or nominee) what they need to do to meet the criteria for promotion.  Notes will be taken by HR to support this.

3.10       Individuals whom the School Promotions Committee has decided should not proceed to a University Promotions Committee may decide, with or without contrary advice received from the Executive Dean (or nominee), whether they wish their application to be forwarded to the University Promotions Committee for further consideration.

3.11       The University Promotions Committee will consider all applications for promotion against the promotion criteria, and will take into account comments from referees.  Where applications are for Readerships or Personal Chairs, comments and advice will be sought from distinguished, international external assessors, identified by the Executive Dean, the Pro-Vice-Chancellors and the Professoriate.  (A detailed explanation of this stage of the procedure is given at Appendix D).

3.12       For promotions to Personal Chairs, the University Promotions Committee will then decide which applications should go forward to a Promotions Board.  For promotions to other grades, the University Promotions Committee will determine the success of the application.  As a quality control mechanism for the process, a proportion of candidates at each level may be selected by the University Promotions Committee to proceed to a Promotions Board.

3.13       Where the information submitted by a candidate requires further clarification, the University Promotions Committee can decide that an application should proceed to a Promotions Board.

3.14       Where applications are submitted to a Promotions Board for consideration, the Board should be similar in composition to an Appointments Board for the relevant levels. 

3.15       The effective date for promotions to Senior Lecturer and above will be 1 August, the start of the University financial year following the launch of the promotions review.  Progression from Grade 8 to Grade 9 will take effect from 1 April.

3.16       Candidates who are not promoted are encouraged to discuss with their Executive Dean what they need to do to meet the criteria for promotion.  Notes will be taken by HR to support this.  Given the time necessary to make a significant improvement in academic standing, applications which are unsuccessful at this final stage should not normally expect to be reviewed again within a two-year period.

3.17       The appeals procedure is detailed in Appendix I.

3.18       Exceptionally it may be necessary to consider special cases for promotion at times other than the annual promotions cycle.  This provision is not available as a route for late submissions.  Special cases must be supported by the relevant Executive Dean who should prepare a report, describing the exceptional circumstances, for the Vice-Chancellor, as Chair of the University Promotions Committee.  If it is accepted that the case merits review outside of the normal annual cycle, consideration of the academic case for promotion will follow a procedure similar (except in timing) to that for the normal annual Promotions Review.  This will include completion, by the individual, of an Academic Staff Internal Application Form.

3.19       The Executive have agreed that Executive Deans should be able to make a case for individual Other Related staff to be put forward for promotion to Teaching Fellows (Grade 9) via School Promotion Committees or to Senior Teaching Fellow (Grade 10) via the University Promotions Committee as part of the Academic Promotions round.  The criteria for such promotions is set out at Appendix G.  Applications (which should be no more than 10 pages long) should be supported by a case from the Executive Dean.

4.    CONSTITUTION OF UNIVERSITY PROMOTIONS COMMITTEE

The University Promotions Committee is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor, and comprises the Pro-Vice-Chancellors, Executive Deans and Chief Operating Officer.  A member of the HR team will act as Secretary.

5.    CONSTITUTION OF SCHOOL PROMOTION COMMITTEES

The constitution of a School Promotion Committee is at the discretion of the relevant Executive Dean; a majority of members should be professors and the Committee should include a member of the HR team. The Pro-Vice-Chancellors will be invited to attend and/or submit comments on the applications.

APPENDICES:

A.   Criteria for Promotion
B.   Levels of Achievement
C.  Guidance for Applicants
D.  Referees and External Assessors
E.  Fellows, Senior Fellows and Principal Fellows of the Higher 
      Education Academy 
F.   Progression from Lecturer Grade 8 to Lecturer Grade 9
G.  Promotion for Other Related Staff
H.  Personal and Individual Circumstances
I.    Appeals Procedure
J.   Application Form for Promotion to Grade 10 and above
K.  Promotion Application Checklist
L.   Application Form for Progression to Grade 9

Final version – 12/12/2013