Probation for Academic Staff with a Non-Research Background

Probation for Academic Staff with a Non-Research Background

Rationale 

The current probation procedures assume that an individual appointed as a lecturer or teacher at the University of Glasgow have an immediate employment background involving:

  • (i) a post graduate degree (Masters or PhD), with a sizeable research component

or

  • (ii) a lower level academic post (eg research assistant or fellow).

For the majority of new appointments this is a reasonable assumption. However, for a growing minority of new staff, which is concentrated in particular areas it is not. These are individuals who have made a career change from a practitioner background.

Such individuals, in common with other new lecturers or teachers (albeit with a more conventional background), have 3 sets of objectives set by the HoS/RI/Mentor; teaching, administration and research/scholarship. From recent experience it is clear that if such individuals will have any difficulty in achieving their objectives it will be in the research area. This is hardly surprising given that they have had no formal or informal research training, have not published or been previously involved in a research project. Moreover, if they continue to fail to achieve such objectives over time the procedures currently require them to be interviewed by the probation committee, with the committees ability to help them being limited to:

  • (i) trying to negotiate more 'realistic' research objectives, in consultation with the individual, HoS/RI and mentor

and

  • (ii) extending (in year 3) probation into a 4th and final year.

The latter may well be viewed by the individual concerned as 'demeaning' which, in turn, has the potential to undermine their self-confidence and perceived position in the School/RI.

In the interest of equity/fairness and flexibility we propose that, from the time of the initial appointment, such an individual be put on a 4 year probation period. However, in putting forward this recommendation we would stress the following:

  • 1. This is only to cover individuals with the precisely defined immediate employment ground of not having come from a post graduate degree (see paragraph 1 above).
  • 2. If their performance is deemed satisfactory (in the sense of achieving all their set objectives) they can be confirmed in post early. That is, it will not be necessary, in such circumstances for them to do a 4th year.

This specific proposal also needs to be seen in the larger context of the probation committees:

  • (i) regular, on-going work (with HoS/RI's etc) to ensure the setting of realistic research (and other) objectives

and

  • (ii) other, complementary proposals to assist the successful integration and development of individuals with such a background see text of report to HR Sub Committee (Academic & Related Staff).