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Oxford University Gazette, 23 February 2006: Notices


Task Force on Academic Employment

Request for submissions

Council has appointed a task force to undertake a wide-ranging review of a range of key academic staffing issues. During Trinity and Michaelmas Terms 2005 a consultation exercise was conducted on the draft terms of reference to ensure that there was an accurate perception of the full range of issues and concerns in this general area before the task force begins its detailed deliberations. In the light of the responses ( received, Council agreed the following revised terms of reference.

The revised terms of reference of the task force are:

1. To undertake a comprehensive review of arrangements for academic employment in the collegiate University, specifically:

  • the principles relating to all academic appointments made by the University alone or jointly with colleges, including the joint appointment system, and the effect of current and possible alternative arrangements on individual workload (in respect of teaching, research and other duties) and on the achievement of academic objectives;
  • career structure and career development, including the implications for titles, remuneration, duties, and other general terms of employment, and the role of developmental appraisal;
  • academic salary structures, taking into account suitable comparator organisations, including the number and structure of pay grades, promotion, arrangements for recruitment and retention payments, for merit pay and market pay, and for allowances and other additional payments and benefits;
  • the implications of inequalities in remuneration between the colleges;
  • the promotion of the principles of equality and diversity, including gender, ethnicity, disability, and age; and
  • arrangements for tenure, i.e. appointment to the retiring age after a probationary review.

2. To make proposals for future structures for academic employment, bearing in mind:

  • the University's values and objectives, and its commitment to the tutorial system, as expressed in the Corporate Plan;
  • the key importance of arrangements to recruit, retain, and reward academic staff of the highest international calibre;
  • resource issues such as the financial position of the collegiate University, the proportion of its expenditure which should be devoted to academic salaries, and the desirable balance between general and discretionary levels of academic salaries; and
  • the implications of the National Framework Agreement on salary 'modernisation' in higher education.

The consultation exercise also elicited comments and suggestions about the composition of the task force. Council has reflected on the points raised and has invited the Conference of Colleges to nominate three additional lecturers and an estates bursar to join the task force.

The task force now seeks submissions and comments on the substantive issues within the revised terms of reference.

The task force wishes to stress that it has no preconceived ideas as to whether to propose any changes to current structures or, if so, what those changes might be. It hopes that respondents will not concentrate on the detail of current arrangements but will reflect at a more general level. The task force wishes to receive views on the broad question of what optimal arrangements for academic employment at Oxford might be, bearing in mind the importance of recruiting, retaining, and rewarding academic staff of the highest international calibre within a structure that appropriately meets the needs of our students and academics.

The task force is mindful that a large number of staff across the collegiate University contribute to its academic mission and that they are employed in a wide variety of roles on a range of employment arrangements. Particular groups were highlighted in some of the responses in the consultation exercise. In approaching its work, the task force will inevitably have to concentrate its efforts in order to make tangible progress within a reasonable timeframe. The prime focus of the task force will therefore be university academic staff, including those holding joint appointments, and senior university research staff, but not college-only employees. However, the task force will seek to explore academic employment issues in ways that benefit both the University and the colleges.

Particular matters on which views are now sought include (but are not limited to) the following:

1. How do values such as academic freedom, subsidiarity, disciplinary diversity, parity of esteem, collegiality, and the pursuit of excellence relate to the issues covered by the terms of reference?

2. The factors (both pay and non-pay) that are critical to recruiting, rewarding, and retaining outstanding academics at the equivalent of the lecturer grade.

3. Whether levels of (i) teaching and (ii) administration currently undertaken by lecturers are appropriate, and balanced in relation to the research objectives of individuals and the University.

4. The strengths and weaknesses of the present joint appointments system.

5. Whether more flexibility in the pattern of academics' duties should be introduced (a) over a career; (b) between subject areas; and (c) between undergraduate and graduate teaching.

6. The grade structure for academic staff: how many grades should there be?

7. Progression between grades and what the process might entail.

8. An appropriate career structure and mechanisms to foster career development: in this context respondents are asked to be clear whether they envisage career development as synonymous with promotion; whether such development or promotion would involve changes to salary, and/or title, and/or duties; and what the role of developmental appraisal should be.

9. The promotion of equality and diversity in all areas of academic employment.

10. Salary (both basic pay and discretionary salary arrangements), and the implications of inequalities in remuneration between the colleges (principally variations in the size of housing and other allowances and benefits). 11. What the principles and processes might be in respect of any additional payments for recruitment and retention purposes, merit pay, and market pay. 12. Arrangements for tenure, i.e. appointment to the retiring age after a probationary review: how long should probation be in the various grades; what standards should apply in the probation review; what process should be followed in that review? 13. Titles of distinction: what should the principles and process be in connection with any future arrangements to confer the title of reader or professor?

In approaching the review, the task force will:

  • examine models of arrangements in comparator institutions (including civil and public service and other organisations, as well as other higher education institutions). Suggestions as to appropriate comparator organisations are invited;
  • consider relevant major issues relating to clinical academics (while noting the separate arrangements which apply in this area and which have recently been revised as a result of national developments);
  • not investigate the detail of stint reform, but will bear in mind the importance of ensuring optimal arrangements for the delivery of teaching in the collegiate University;
  • have regard to the position of senior university research staff in Oxford who are not employed on conventional academic contracts, and will liaise with the Working Group on Contract Research Staff, as appropriate; and
  • will bear in mind related discussions on the implementation of a new grading and salary framework for other university staff under the National Framework Agreement.

The task force will consult colleges and intercollegiate bodies, divisional boards and relevant university committees, departments and institutions, and the Joint Consultative Committee with the Oxford AUT.

It wishes, in particular, to receive views from individual members of the University, and may make special arrangements to ensure that it receives sufficient evidence from these and other sources.

A number of comments in the earlier consultation exercise drew attention to the complexity of the issues under consideration as well as the pressure of other business on all staff across the University. In order to allow sufficient time for respondents to prepare their submissions, the task force requests that submissions should be sent to Ms A. Cross, Deputy Head of Personnel Services, Wellington Square by the end of Week 5 of Trinity Term (Friday, 26 May).

The task force will consider the submissions and will consult again on any specific proposals it might draw up, with a view to presenting a report to Council by the end of 2006.

The task force wishes to be open and transparent in its operation: it would like to publish on the web the responses to this consultation exercise, and where legal advice is sought both the request and the advice itself will be published. For this reason, respondents are asked to indicate clearly whether or not they are content for their submissions to be published, and, if so, to provide the submission in electronic form. The task force will keep under review the question of holding open meetings, or discussions in Congregation. The task force's report to Council will include consideration of further discussion and decisions by Congregation as appropriate. The task force will keep colleges informed of its progress via the Conference of Colleges, and will consult the colleges collectively and individually about any eventual proposals relating to joint appointments.

Membership (as originally constituted):

Fiona Caldicott, Principal of Somerville, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Personnel and Equal Opportunities) (Chairman)

Anne-Marie Drummond, Senior Tutor, Lincoln

Philip England, Head of the Department of Earth Sciences, Fellow of University

Felicity Heal, CUF Lecturer in Modern History, Tutorial Fellow of Jesus

Frances Lannon, Principal of Lady Margaret Hall

Timothy Softley, Professor of Chemical Physics, Tutorial Fellow of Merton

Michael Spence, Head of the Social Sciences Division, Fellow of St Catherine's

Bernard Taylor (external member of Council)

Nigel Thrift, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Head of the Life and Environmental Sciences Division, Student of Christ Church

Jeremy Whiteley, Director of Personnel and Administrative Services

Additional members nominated by the Conference of Colleges:

Anne Davies, CUF Lecturer in Law, Tutorial Fellow of Brasenose

Richard Caplan, ULNTF in Politics and International Relations, Fellow of Linacre

William James, University Lecturer in Pathology, Tutorial Fellow of Brasenose

Timothy Knowles, Estates Bursar and Fellow of Lincoln

Secretary: Alison Cross (Personnel Services)

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Professorship of Management Studies and Peter Moores Deanship of the Saïd Business School

COLIN PETER MAYER, MA, M.PHIL., D.PHIL., Fellow of Wadham College and Professor of Management Studies, has been appointed to the professorship and Peter Moores Deanship with effect from 1 October 2006.

Professor Mayer will be a fellow of St Edmund Hall for the period of his deanship.

Professorship of Social Anthropology

HARVEY WHITEHOUSE (BA London, PH.D. Cambridge), Professor of Anthropology, Queen's University, Belfast, has been appointed to the professorship with effect from 1 October 2006.

Professor Whitehouse will be a fellow of Magdalen College.

Conferment of the Title of Visiting Professor

The Medical Sciences Board has conferred the title of Visiting Professor of Medicinal Chemistry on PROFESSOR BARRY POTTER, MA, D.PHIL., D.SC., currently Professor of Medicinal and Biological Chemistry, University of Bath, for a period of three years from 1 March 2006.

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The composition of the electoral board to the post below, proceedings to fill which are currently in progress, is as follows.

Bywater and Sotheby Professorship of Byzantine and Modern Greek

                                  Appointed by 

The Warden of Keble                     Mr Vice-Chancellor 
Professor G. Hutchinson                 Council 
Dr D. Holton                            Council 
Dr R.C.S. Walker                        Humanities Board 
Mr J.D. Howard-Johnston                 Humanities Board 
Dr D. Ricks                             Humanities Board 
Professor C.M. MacRobert                Medieval and Modern Languages Board 
Professor H. Watanabe-O'Kelly           Exeter College 
Dr B. Morison                           Exeter College 

[1] Appointed by Mr Vice-Chancellor under the provisions of Sects. 10 and 11 of Statute IX (Supplement (1) to Gazette No. 4633, 9 October 2002, Vol. 133, p. 108).

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