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Probation Early Career Academics

Probation Early Career Academics

The purpose of probation is to ensure that a newly appointed member of staff has an opportunity of familiarising him or herself with the University and academic environment and provides the University with an opportunity of ensuring that the member of staff is capable of undertaking the work for which he or she has been employed.

The University recognises that a supportive and developmental probation process is vital in providing an appropriate level of support and training for new members of staff on commencement of their employment.

It is essential that the probationary period is of a realistic length, the objectives and targets set during probation must be achievable and the member of staff will not be confirmed in post if his or her performance is unsatisfactory.

The Academic Probation policy sets out the University's approach to Academic Probation, with further information below for new members of academic staff.

  • Probation Duration
    • Standard duration for the following early career academic staff is three years and starts at date of appointment to position, however staff may be confirmed at any stage during their probationary period when they have met the essential criteria and can demonstrate readiness to progress against the relevant Academic Profile:
      • Lecturer
      • Lecturer (Education)
      • Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow
      • PG Johnston Fellow
      • Illuminate Fellow
    • Staff on fixed term contracts serve probation for the duration of their contract. If the contract is renewed, probation is also extended up to a maximum probation period of 3 years.
  • Requirements and Qualifications to Pass Probation
    • Probationers must register for PGCHET (which is accredited by the Academy) or Higher Education Fellowship or hold an equivalent qualification and a link to further information on PGCHET is given in the initial probation correspondence. Probationers are advised that if they hold any of these or hold an equivalent qualification they should forward the Certificate to People and Culture to enable the records to be updated.
    • PhD must be obtained in order to pass probation
    • For some positions a PhD is not an essential requirement to pass probation and this is indicated as desirable in the Candidate Information provided to Probationers with their letter of offer as well in the initial probation correspondence.
    • Probationers who are following the Research and Education pathway must have completed the one-day Supervising Research Students training course.
  • PGCHET (Post Graduate Certificate of Higher Education Teaching)
    • Duration: 1 year, part-time (up to a maximum of 3 years)
    • Entry Requirements: Priority is given to permanent, full-time, probationary, academic members of staff and further details can be obtained on the PGCHET page of the School of SSESW website and details of how to apply are given in The Direct Applications Portal.
    • The course is made up of three modules (20 CATS points each) and when the associated coursework is successfully completed, graduates are eligible to become a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (on application).
  • Supervising Research Students
    • Probationers who are following the Research and Education pathway are required to have the appropriate training and skills to satisfactorily perform the task of supervision. Supervisors new to the role of supervision must attend a one-day training course, which can be booked via iTrent and is delivered by the Graduate School.
    • Probationers who follow the Education pathway are not required to complete this course.
    • Further information about supervision can be obtained on the Academic and Student Affairs website.
  • Academic Probation Reviews
    • The School will advise the probationer in advance of the annual review (the timing of which will be based upon the probationer’s start date), and will request the probationer to submit a Cover Letter and Academic CV for consideration by the School Probation Committee.
    • The School will also request a Peer Observer Report from the Peer Teaching Observer(s).
    • Based on the probationer’s performance, the Committee may agree passing probation at the end of the probation period, passing probation at an earlier date than scheduled or continuing probation as planned.
    • If a probationer is not progressing as expected, and is unlikely to do so, the Committee can agree they should not pass probation and the contract may be terminated.
  • Mitigating Circumstances (Covid-19 related or otherwise)
    • The University recognises the impact that the Covid pandemic has had on staff completing their roles as they would have under normal circumstances. However, probationary reviews will continue to be reviewed holistically, taking these special circumstances into consideration and recognising that where contribution in one domain has been impacted, outstanding contribution in another domain will be taken into account. For example, where the opportunity to contribute to normal activities has been impacted, staff may have taken on additional activities/duties, and clear examples of this should be given in the Cover Letter.
    • You may wish to explain how any mitigating circumstances (Covid-19 related or otherwise) have impacted on your progress against your current academic profile. Please provide dates and brief descriptions of these mitigating circumstances e.g. any part-time working and also the nature and percentage of any split role or any time you have had away from your career. You should provide this information in a separate appendix, this will be in addition to the appendices already allowed for (two for those on the Research and Education pathway; four for those on the Education only pathway).
  • Absence Due to Maternity Leave or Long-Term Sickness During the Probationary Period
    • It is possible to add the absence duration to the end of the probationary period to enable the individual to serve the full probation term thus giving an opportunity to catch up.
    • This does not happen automatically as not all probationers will need to extend their probation period. For those who feel they would benefit from an extension this can be accommodated.
    • The request for extension comes from the Head of School following discussion with the probationer.
    • Probationers are then formally notified of the relevant details eg. new probation end date, when documents can be submitted etc.
    • When confirmed in post at the end of this extended period, confirmation will be backdated to the original probation end date.
  • During Probation
    • Probationers are not permitted to take sabbatical leave.
    • Probationers can be appointed by the School as Principal Supervisor or Advisor for PhD by published works if the following conditions are met:
    • Must have gained a doctoral degree and have at least 3 years’ experience since its award.
    • Should also be employed on a contract that would cover the duration of the proposed research degree to be supervised.
    • Second or Co-Supervisor must be a senior academic (at least Senior Lecturer level or above) with experience of successfully supervising at least 2 doctoral students through to completion as Principal Supervisor.
  • Following Successful Confirmation in Post
    • Staff are eligible to apply for progression to a higher grade, see Academic Progression for more information.