Athena SWAN in IHW

Staff promotions, regrading, and reward and recognition

Photo of woman completing an application form


Laura Hughes-McCormack and Arlene McGarty


The Institute of Health and Wellbeing places a high priority on supporting staff through the promotion and reward/recognition processes. In the recent staff survey, some staff reported that they did not fully understand the university’s criteria and processes for promotion. We need to change this and the Athena SWAN promotions group has been working hard to correct this.


We have held annual promotions workshops for IHW early career researchers throughout 2016-2019, which sought to provide unambiguous information about when and how to apply for promotion. These workshops are normally run in October/ November and are advertised via e-mail a few months prior to the next session. However, if you want to express an early interest in attending the next workshop, please contact the Chair of the group to be put on a waiting list. The programme for these workshops and all of the presentations can be found by clicking the links below. 

Feedback from attendees at these workshops over the years has been positive. These are a few quotes from previous attendees which reflect their experience of the promotions workshop:

“I found it very helpful to be able to have my questions answered by senior members of staff who actually sit on the promotions committee. The discussions that followed made me feel more confident about what information to put in each section when it came to filling out the application form.” (IHW, Research Assistant)

“I was at last year’s [2018] workshop and subsequently had a successful application accepted as part of last year’s round of promotions (Grade 7 to 8). What I liked about the workshop was that it had senior members of staff who were willing to be open and transparent regarding the process. All were happy to answer any question and to be able to do that in person was extremely worthwhile. There were a number of tips and suggestions that made it directly into my application. From something simple as ensuring I was explicit with my contributions to chosen articles as part of research and scholarship section to the calculated use of ‘buzzwords’ to signpost important evidence to the reviewer. The workshop was great value and I’m very glad I attended.” (IHW, Research Fellow)

We recognise that some staff are still not fully aware of the promotions criteria and the promotions process. We hope anyone in this position will attend the next workshop in October 2020.

Line managers are now required to discuss promotion at every annual Progress and Development Review (P&DR) and to provide written confirmation that promotion has been discussed. The working group developed an online training course in 2019 for line managers to help raise awareness of the promotion criteria and process. This course is now compulsory for all line managers.

Two members of staff who were recently promoted have kindly agreed to make their completed application forms available as a guide to what is required. We will upload these when they are available.

We are eager to help with questions about the promotions criteria and processes. Staff are encouraged to contact the group with their questions, which will be discussed by the Athena SWAN promotions team. Answers to these queries, which will be anonymised, will then be posted on this website. Please email any questions to the Chair for the group. 


  • “If you have had a career break it’s more difficult to get promotion.” Not true: the promotions application form highlights that due consideration will be given to individuals who, for whatever reason, have had a break in their career.
  • “If you have flexible working hours you can’t get promotion.” Not true: promotion is open to everyone regardless of their working pattern.
  • “It’s easier to get promoted if you are clinically qualified.”  Not true: the data on promotions applications and outcomes do not support this. All applications are considered on merit.
  • “It’s easier for men to be promoted than women.” Not true: again, the data do not support this.
  • “The only way to get promoted is to move or say you are moving to another university.” Not true: the criteria and processes for promotion within the university are clear and transparent and the university are keen to encourage all staff to consider promotion with a view to retaining them.
  • “Staff cannot be promoted if there is not enough money in the grant to cover the cost” Not true: Promotion decisions are made on whether the staff member meets a preponderance of the promotion criteria, not on the basis of their funding, or whether there is enough money in a grant to pay the higher salary. Grant-funded staff are eligible to apply for promotion. If successful, the extra cost is charged to the grant; if the grant does not have enough money left within it, alternative arrangements are made to cover it.

Future plans

We plan to continue  hosting  a workshops each year in order to provide information to staff about promotion. We will continue to strive towards ensuring that all IHW staff understand the university’s criteria and processes for promotion and we welcome suggestions to improve the current format of promotions workshops. We are also in the process of developing content for a new workshop to be run annually to raise awareness of the criteria and process for achieving Reward and Recognition in addition to the current promotions workshop.  

Useful links