An overview of academic probation
There are three types of academic probation based on your contract with the University:
- Probationary Lecturer (teaching) – for Lecturers with a specialism in teaching
- Probationary Lecturer (teaching & research) – for Lecturers with a specialism in teaching and research
- Pre-probationary Lecturer (teaching & research) – for Lecturers with a specialism in teaching and research and are yet to complete their PhD. Once the PhD has been awarded, the Lecturer will start a regular Probationary Lecturer (teaching & research) period
The key features of the academic probation processes are outlined in the Career progression framework document (CPER) under 'Criteria for Successfully Passing Probation'. This criteria will form the basis of your probationary objectives.
A summary of the differences between the probation types:
|Type of Probation||Length||No. of reviews*||Areas assessed|
|Probationary Lecturer (teaching)||One year||Two: mid-review at five months and final review at 10 months||Teaching, Administration & Management|
|Probationary Lecturer (teaching & research)||Three years||Three: first review at 12 months, second review at 22 months and final review at 34 months||Teaching, Administration & Management, Research|
|Pre-Probationary Lecturer (teaching & research)||Up to two years||One: at 12 months||Teaching, Administration & Management, Research, Focused on completing the PhD|
* Please note, review periods are approximate and shorter than the probation length as all reviews must take place before the end of probation date.
Progress against your probationary objectives in these areas are reviewed by Academic Staff Committee (ASC) and is based on a joint report from you, your Head of Department/Division (HoD) or a nominated Reviewer and the Dean of Faculty/School (Dean).
This procedure is managed by the Learning & Organisational Development Advisor within the Academic Career Progression Team (ACP Team).
Exemption from probation
If you can provide documentary evidence of either the successful completion of probation of a similar nature at a comparable institution or of having gained equivalent experience, you may – at the University's discretion – be granted exemption from probation.
All claims for exemption from probation should be discussed with your Head of Department/ Division, before completing the form. The form includes instructions on how it should be completed and who needs to sign off the various stages.
To help you develop and enhance your skills in academic practice, we require all probationary lecturers to successfully complete the Pathway to HEA Fellowship (known as the 'PHEAF'), which is run by the Centre for Learning & Teaching. Pre-probationary Lecturers may carry participation of the PHEAF over to their regular three year probation should you choose to start in your pre-probation period.
For Probationary and Pre-probationary Lecturers (teaching & research), to allow you to develop your independent research whilst on probation, and to facilitate your completion of the pathway, you will receive a reduction of 80 hours in your workload during your probationary period.
Accreditation of Prior/Experiential Learning (APEL) may be granted for those members of staff who have already gained an HEA Fellowship at the same level as is their probationary requirement.
Principles of research assessment and management
We have developed a set of principles outlining its approach to research assessment and management, including the responsible use of quantitative indicators. The assessment of academic probation cases by Academic Staff Committee and its related Sub Groups will be made in accordance with these principles.
Induction and confirmation of probation arrangements
Probationers use the Career Progression Portal (CPP) to set their objectives and complete their probation progress report which is reviewed by ASC. For more detailed guidance on how to use the CPP, please visit our CPP webpage or download our CPP guidance document.
There is no need to register or set up access to the CPP as this is done automatically when you start. Within your first couple of weeks, you will receive a welcome email with the link to log into the CPP where you can view your probation details such as review dates and start adding to your ‘Probation Profile’ including previous employment history and qualifications. This information is required information each time you report on progress at your next review. You will also be encouraged to complete an online probation induction module to learn more about probation requirements and processes.
Your Head of Department/Division and Dean of Faculty/School will receive notification that you are on probation and set up on the CPP. Your Head of Department/Division will confirm within the CPP who your Reviewer is for your probation. This could be the Head of Department/Division themselves or another senior colleague within the Department/Division.
Following this, you and your Reviewer will receive an email notification with instructions for next steps such as:
- meeting to discuss probationary objectives and mentoring arrangements
- assigning a mentor (view the guidance notes on the role of mentors within section 2.6 of the CPER)
- setting and approving objectives
This meeting should take place within your first month of starting in your Lecturer role.
The Academic Staff Development Team will also receive notification that you are on probation to invite you to an induction of the Academic and Professional Development for all Staff (APDaS) programme. The completion of APDaS is a requirement for passing probation.
For Lecturers with a specialism in research (including Pre-probationary Lecturers), you should start to update your Pure profile within this time as you will need to provide your Pure Research Activity Report (RAR) for each review as supporting evidence to demonstrate your progress against research objectives. It is good practice to regularly update your Pure profile during and beyond probation.
By the end of your meeting with your HoD/Reviewer, you should have agreed two sets of objectives for:
The entire probationary period
These are the objectives you want to achieve by the end of your probation period. Once approved, they will not change during your probation unless requested by ASC in exceptional circumstances.
For the period under review
These are the objectives you want to achieve by your next probationary review. After each review, they will be revised taking into account feedback from your HoD/Reviewer, Dean and ASC and will eventually work towards achieving your objectives for the entire probationary period.
While you are expected to achieve the base line probationary targets set by the University, which can be found in our examples of good practice probationary objectives, there are some objectives that can be adapted depending on your discipline. This will form the basis of your discussion with your HoD/Reviewer.
Following on from your meeting, you should input your agreed objectives within the ‘Probationary Objectives’ section of the CPP and you will need to confirm the name of your mentor under 'Mentor Details' in the 'Probation Profile' section. You will then need to send to your Reviewer for agreement by changing the status on the home screen. Your Reviewer can either return the objectives back to you with comments for amendment or send on to your Dean for approval.
Once approved by the Dean, you will receive a notification and the 'Probationary Objectives' section is then closed for editing but you can view your objectives at any time by logging in to the CPP.
Your objectives should be approved within your first three months of starting in your Lecturer role.
For both types of Lecturers, you should start to think about preparing for observations of your teaching to take place before your next probationary review. More information about teaching observations can be found on the teaching observations for probation webpage. You will be required to submit at least one observation of your teaching as evidence of satisfactory teaching performance for each review.
Reporting on progress
Approximately 10 weeks before your next review, you, your Reviewer and Dean will receive notification reminding you that you need to report on your progress against your objectives for the period under review within the ‘Probation Progress Report’ section and the deadline for when this needs to be completed within the CPP.
Completing your Probation Progress Report
You will need to provide information on your activity during the period under review, reflection on progress and supporting evidence in the following areas:
|Teaching||Admin & Management||Progress against objectives||For final reviews only|
|Online unit evaluation from SAMIS for every unit taught during the period under review and at least one observation of your teaching by a senior colleague||No required supporting evidence||Progress against individual objectives||An observation of teaching carried out by a Senior Observer|
Lecturers (teaching & research) including Pre-probationary Lecturers
|Teaching||Research||Admin & Management||Progress against objectives||For final reviews only|
|Online unit evaluation from SAMIS for every unit taught during the period under review and at least one observation of your teaching by a senior colleague||An up-to-date Pure RAR with % contributions added manually||No supporting evidence required||Progress against individual objectives||A Senior Independent Assessment from a senior colleague in the Department/Division and an observation of teaching carried out by a Senior Observer|
The Academic Staff Development Team (firstname.lastname@example.org) can help arrange for a Senior Observation to take place.
A Senior Independent Assessment should be completed by a senior colleague within your Department/School. It will normally take the form of a letter providing assessment of your performance in the three areas of teaching, research and admin & management. It can cover the three years of probation or just your final year.
Additional supporting evidence
You will have an opportunity to upload documents which are not required evidence within the 'Additional Docs' section. Examples include a mentor report or informal/alternative student feedback. Please note that anything under required evidence listed in the aforementioned table should not be uploaded in the 'Additional Docs' section, but in the relevant area (teaching, research, admin & management).
You can also provide details of any significant work-related issues or periods of absence within the 'Probation Profile' section so the Committee is aware and can make reasonable adjustments when assessing your progress. Once you have completed your required sections of the 'Probationary Progress Report', you can change the status bar on the home screen to send to your Reviewer for comment.
Completing Reviewer and Dean comments
Your Reviewer will have an opportunity to comment on all the areas you have reported on and will then change the status bar to send to your Dean for comment.
Once the Dean has added their comments, you will have an opportunity to reflect on feedback provided by your Reviewer and Dean and add your own final comments before your Reviewer is asked to approve the final 'Probationary Progress Report' for consideration by ASC.
All previously mentioned steps should be complete before the deadline communicated by the ACP Team in the reminder email. You should speak to your Reviewer to confirm internal deadlines to ensure this deadline is met.
Visit our academic probation deadlines page to find out when Probation Progress Reports should be submitted for each ASC meeting.
Assessment by ASC
After the deadline, your 'Probationary Progress Report' will be made available to the Academic Staff Committee and lead officers will be assigned to individual cases.
ASC will then use the information, reflective comments and supporting evidence provided to assess your progress against your objectives and the criteria for passing probation to confirm a decision and any developmental feedback.
Communication of ASC outcomes
Approximately two weeks after the ASC meeting, your Reviewer will receive notification that an outcome and feedback is available for them to view on the CPP. Your Reviewer should then arrange to meet with you to provide the outcome, discuss feedback provided in the 'Probationary Progress Report' and from ASC and to agree objectives for the next review period.
Approximately three to four weeks after the ASC meeting, you will receive notification that your formal outcome is available to view on the CPP.
Outcomes will be available to view at any time once they have been added to the CPP so you can reflect on feedback from ASC when it comes to reporting on progress at your next review.
The Probationary Objectives screen will then open again for editing so you may input and approve your objectives for your next review period.
Deadlines for submitting reports
Visit our academic probation deadlines page to find out when Probation Progress Reports should be submitted for each ASC meeting.
Frequently asked questions
This guide and the CPER document should be your first point of reference to understand more about the process, procedures and criteria for probation. However, you might also find it helpful to refer to our academic probation: useful information page to help answer questions you may have on individual topics.
Allowances for the impact of Covid-19
The University and ASC appreciate that while many staff across the organisation worked extremely hard during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure the same quality of service and support was available to our community, many experienced and continue to experience a great impact on various areas of their work. It is also recognised that the pandemic had an adverse impact on those currently on academic probation in being able to meet their objectives within the original timescales.
In discussion with Academic Heads of Department/Division, ASC and the Deans of Faculty/School have agreed a set of options available for you to utilise to help ASC make allowances for any impact when assessing your progress at your next review.