Frequently asked questions

The current Professional Development Programme (PDP) was introduced in 2002. While there have been some minor revisions to the PDP in subsequent years, there was support for a more fundamental review of the probation and career development arrangements for new E&R Lecturers.

The University established a Task and Finish Group, chaired by the Provost and comprising the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of each College, to review and make recommendations on the career pathways for academic staff in the Education and Research job family.

The revised criteria are clearer, more balanced across the range of academic activities and better reflect the University’s objectives, vision and values.

In developing its recommendations, the Task and Finish Group reviewed models across a range of Russell Group institutions. There is not a common grading model across the Russell Group which means that career structures are different between institutions. However most Russell Group Universities have a probation period of 3 years for new Lecturers so we are aligning Exeter with the majority of our peers.

The intention of the new criteria is that they more closely align with our Global 100 Mission and Values and our sovereign strategies for Education, Research, Impact and Engagement and Internationalisation. 

The revised criteria recognise that there are differences between Colleges and seek to balance the requirement for consistency across the University as a single employer with the varied characteristics of our academic disciplines.

The main differences are:

The new criteria are more balanced – previously, while there was detailed research criteria, there was limited information on education and academic citizenship.

The new criteria are more closely linked with the University’s vision and values.

Under the previous PDP arrangements, a Lecturer completed their probation AND progressed to Senior Lecturer at the 5 year review. Under the new arrangements probation and promotion have been “decoupled” which means faster confirmation of probation than previously (by two years). New Lecturers will still be expected to continue their career development so that they progress to Senior Lecturer within 2/3 years following completion of probation.

The new probation arrangements will apply to new E&R Lecturers appointed in the 2016 recruitment cycle.

Separate transitional arrangements will apply to Lecturers on the previous PDP arrangements, as follows.

If you have satisfactorily completed your interim review, with an expectation that you will progress to Senior Lecturer within 2 years, you will remain on the previous arrangements.

If you have not yet completed your interim review, you will be encouraged to switch to the new arrangements.

Current staff who aspire to progression to Associate Professor and Professor will be assessed against the new arrangements from the summer term 2016.

The University remains committed to developing and progressing the careers of high achieving academic staff. We will continue to recruit new Lecturers with high potential and support them to achieve their career development aspirations. We expect most new Lecturers to satisfactorily complete probation within 3 years and to achieve progression to Senior Lecturer within 5 years of appointment as they do at present. The revised progression criteria for progression to Associate Professor and Professor will be used to help staff develop the achievements necessary for progression to these levels.

Lecturers on the previous PDP arrangements who have not yet completed your interim review, will have a choice of whether to remain on the previous PDP scheme or the new probation/progression arrangements. However, these Lecturers will be encouraged to switch to the new arrangements.

At the point your Research Fellowship expires, the management of your College will make an assessment of your achievements at Exeter against the criteria for probation and for progression to Senior Lecturer. You will be advised in writing of the further evidence of achievement and timescales for your appointment to be confirmed and for you to progress to Senior Lecturer.

In March 2016, you will be asked to choose whether to move to the new arrangements or stay on the previous PDP scheme, along with other Lecturers on the PDP.

Once any member of staff has passed their probation period there are of course standards of work performance that are expected. After completion of probation revised performance targets will be set leading to progression to Senior Lecturer. We are confident that most Exeter Academics, having achieved the standards for probation will continue to progress their careers and progress to Senior Lecturer. If (and we see this as very much in exceptional circumstances) a Lecturer is not meeting the required standards then steps need to be taken to support them to ensure they are able to achieve them.  If, after support and development has been put into place, the Lecturer is not able to achieve the required performance standards then the University would have to consider whether to take steps to end their employment under the appropriate procedure.

A previous Task and Finish Group had reviewed the career progression arrangements for academic staff in the Education and Scholarship job family in 2011 and new arrangements had been introduced in 2012.

One of the recommendations of the Task and Finish Group (which included the PVCs of all Colleges) was: There should be no change to the current progression criteria for staff in the Education and Scholarship job family.

This was endorsed by VCEG in February and in the consultation information, published in March 2015.