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.
Below is 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 5 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, Focussed on completing the PhD|
*please note that 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.
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
The University has 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
If you have been asked to use the Career Progression Portal, please refer to separate guidance which is similar to the process outlined below.
Within your first couple of weeks, you will receive a welcome email to confirm your probation arrangements including length of probation, review dates and areas of support available to you during this time.
Your HoD and Dean will also receive the same email so they are aware of your probation arrangements and can begin your induction into the role and the Department/School which will include:
Meeting to discuss probationary objectives and mentoring arrangements
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 PHEAF.
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 and this will form the basis of your discussion with your HoD/Reviewer.
Following on from your meeting, you should input your agreed objectives into the template form found on our objectives webpage and send to your HOD/Reviewer for agreement before they are sent to the Dean for approval.
Once approved by the Dean, a signed copy of your final objectives should be sent to you and the ACP Team via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 will receive an email notification reminding you that your review is coming up and what you will need to do and the supporting evidence to provide to complete your Probation Review Form and report on your progress against your objectives.
Completing your Probation Review Form
You should complete an Academic Probation Review Form and there are separate forms depending on your role and probation period.
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 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 and 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.
You can also provide documents which are not required evidence (listed above) such as a mentor report, however this information is not compulsory and will not impact any decision of ASC if not provided.
Once you have completed your required sections of the Probation Review Form, you need to send the form and supporting evidence to your HoD/Reviewer for their comments and recommendations as shown within the template form. Following this, your HoD/Reviewer will pass your form to your Dean to provide their comments and recommendation
Finally, you will have an opportunity to reflect on feedback provided within the form and add your own final comments before you send the completed Probation Review Form and supporting evidence back to your HoD/Reviewer for approval before being submitted to the ACP Team for consideration by ASC.
All steps above should be complete before the deadline communicated by the ACP Team in the reminder email and you should speak to your HoD/Reviewer to confirm internal deadlines to ensure this overall deadline is met.
Visit our academic probation deadlines page to find out when Probation Review Forms should be submitted for each ASC meeting.
Assessment by ASC
After the deadline, your Probation Review Form and supporting evidence will be made available to the Academic Staff Committee and a Lead Officer (a member of ASC) will be assigned to individual cases.
ASC will then use the information, reflective comments and supporting evidence provided to assess and discuss 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 HoD/Reviewer will receive an outcome and feedback sent by the ACP Team. Your HoD/Reviewer should then arrange to meet with you to provide the outcome, discuss feedback provided in the Probation Review Form and from ASC and to agree objectives for the next review period.
Approximately three to four weeks after the ASC meeting, you will receive your formal outcome from the ACP Team.
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
We would encourage you to always refer first to this academic probation guide page and the CPER document to understand more about the process, procedures and criteria however, you might also find it helpful to refer to our frequently asked questions page on academic probation on individual topics.
Allowances for the impact of Covid-19
The University and Academic Staff Committee (ASC) appreciate that while many staff across the organisation have worked extremely hard during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure that the same quality of service and support is available to our community, many have experienced and continue to experience a great impact on various areas of their work during. It is also recognised that the pandemic has 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 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.