Frequently Asked Questions – Academic Leadership and Management

Will the Academic Lead (AL) constitute a line manager?
Yes. Academic Leads will provide leadership, guidance, support and advice to individual academic colleagues.  They will support and champion individual aspirations, help academic colleagues to achieve their full potential and where individual performance is a concern act quickly to establish structured support.
Will staff be required to act as an Academic Lead even if they do not wish to?
The reasoning behind the creation of the role is to give the academic community greater ownership of the College strategy and a wider distribution of leadership in the Colleges. It is a response to the staff survey and out of recognition that it is time for the institution to move from a  dirigiste leadership model to one where staff feel ownership and are in a position to participate and engage. For this to be done well we would like to appoint Academic Leads who want to provide leadership to the academic community and who will do it well.

Will the Academic Lead be responsible for monitoring and reporting staff under them who they do not believe are performing at the level required (ie is their role to be regarded as primarily support or monitoring)?
There are examples where in the past staff have struggled with the goals they have set themselves and where not enough structured support has been provided. It is the responsibility of the Academic Leads to keep the Head of Discipline and College Executive Group informed of where a member of staff is finding it difficult to meet their goals in case there is either a need to provide more support - either to the Academic Lead or the member of staff or, in rare circumstances, to take more formal action.
If monitoring and support are to be combined in the role of the Academic Lead is that appropriate? What support will Academic Leads have in managing this balance, and how will this combination of responsibilities be made clear to staff?
The university considers that good leadership involves both aspects. Support for Academic Leads will come from training and development, Heads of Discipline, the College Executive Group, the wider network of Academic Leads and the college based HR Business Partner (Personnel Manager).
How will the Academic Leads’ responsibilities be reflected in their workload models?
There is agreement on the importance of Academic Leads and the responsibilities of the role will be adequately reflected in the workload model, recognising the time that will be required to undertake regular meetings. The details are within the auspices of each College.
What input does the Academic Lead have into the Performance and Development Review and Research Output Monitoring processes, this is unclear at present? How exactly will their input affect promotion/rewards procedures? What will ensure clarity and openness in these procedures?
The Academic Lead will be responsible for conducting the annual Performance and Development Reviews as well as providing support and encouragement throughout the year. The PDR will be the mechanism through which feedback from the ROM is provided. The PDR will be the vehicle for agreeing personal goals (including research goals) within the context of the colleague's overall workload. The Dean and his/her Executive Committee will be ultimately responsible for allocating merit awards but each Academic Lead will be invited to put forward colleagues for consideration: they may be asked to provide evidence from the PDR to support their recommendations. As is the case now, the College "Merit Panel" will be chaired by the line managing DVC with a representative from Personnel in attendance.

I am currently on the PDP process.  Will my PDP mentor change with the introduction of the new Academic Lead role?
It may do.  If your PDP mentor is appointed as an Academic Lead, then s/he will normally continue to be your PDP mentor.  If your current PDP mentor is not appointed as an Academic Lead, you will be assigned a new PDP mentor who is also an Academic Lead.  A meeting will be organised between you, your PDP mentor and your new Academic Lead to ensure that there is a transition and handover process.

If the Academic Lead is to be a support, rather than a monitoring, role then what does this mean for mentoring? Does it replace staff mentoring processes or add to them?
The Academic Lead will combine the roles of mentor and appraiser. This arrangement has been operating successfully in Graduate School of Education for the last year. This does not necessarily substitute other mentoring schemes, but recognises that both elements (monitoring and support) are important to provide effective leadership.

If a member of staff is dissatisfied with their Academic Lead will they be able to request placement under another Academic Lead? What complaint and disciplinary procedures will be in place? What role will the union have in the event of any difficulties arising in the relationship between Academic Lead and staff member?
All Academic Leads will receive full and comprehensive training before they take on the role and it is hoped that productive and effective relationships will quickly be established between the Academic Leads and their colleagues. Colleagues will be asked to inform their Dean in advance if there are any Academic Leads whom they would prefer not to work with and once assigned if any colleague feels dissatisfied with their Academic Lead they should, in the first instance, raise the matter with the Dean.

Will the Academic Leads be representative of the gender and ethnicity balances within the institution?
All such processes are subject to gender and ethnicity checks and monitoring, as is everything involving staff and management roles. The University is committed to supporting staff to work in an environment that is free from unlawful discrimination and promotes equality of opportunity.  Colleges will work to encourage and promote a culture that welcomes equal opportunity and values diversity.

What is the difference between Academic Lead and Head of Discipline?
An Academic Lead leads, motivates and develops a group of academic staff, recognising individual contribution and providing feedback on performance, specifically any feedback from research (including ROM for research active staff), teaching and management duties as part of the PDP and PDR processes.  They will be responsible for jointly agreeing goals at induction, PDP and PDR which reflect College, discipline or subject group and individual aspirations and regularly review these goals.  Academic Leads will inform promotion and merit award discussions and act quickly to establish structured support where performance is a concern and ensure the College Dean is informed.

A Head of Discipline will be an Academic Lead for a group of staff in the disciple or subject group.  They will act as the chair of the group of Academic Leads in that discipline, who between them will promote collaborative ownership of disciplinary unit goals and strategies. Heads of Discipline will act as a key liaison point between the College and the disciplinary unit or subject grouping and represent the Discipline (or subject grouping) externally.  They will be responsible for issues around accreditation and, where necessary, be involved in allocation of workload in consultation with the College Executive.

Is it up to each unit, discipline or whatever, to select its own Academic Leads and Head of Discipline, or are these executive appointments?
Academic Leads will be appointed by the College Dean in consultation with staff in the discipline/subject grouping and will have delegated authority from the Dean for the management and leadership of a particular group of staff.  The Dean will oversee the allocation of individual staff to Academic Leads.

Are there any criteria for who can and cannot take on these roles?
We would expect staff who take on Academic Lead roles to actively develop their leadership and management skills. Colleges will also be considering level of seniority as part of the consultation process.

Will they be paid more, have sabbatical rights and be provided with a secretary for doing so?
Academic management and leadership will be recognised in promotion processes and as a reward criterion in the merit award process.  The role of AL will not have a direct implication on salary. Colleges will develop College specific mechanisms for rewarding staff who undertake Academic Lead roles, whether this is through additional support or through payment into PDAs.