Academic Promotion - Procedures | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Academic Promotion - Procedures

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Approval authority
Vice-Chancellor and President
Responsible Executive member
Vice-Chancellor and President
Designated officer
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
First approved
19 June 2012
Last amended
15 June 2022
Review date
15 May 2024
Related documents
Linked documents
Superseded documents
  • Academic Promotion to Levels C, D and E - Procedures
  • Academic Promotion to Level B - Procedures

1. Purpose of procedures

1.1 These procedures outline the process for annual promotions rounds and make clear the requirements of Senior Officers of the University to ensure administrative responsibilities are fulfilled and policy principles are implemented effectively.

2. Scope and application

2.1 These procedures apply to full-time and fractional academic staff.

3. Definitions

3.1 Please refer to the University’s Glossary of Terms for policies and procedures.

4. Preparing for a Promotion Application

4.1 People and Culture may coordinate an information session/s for prospective applicants, which is held around the time of the call for applications and ensures the Application Form and Instructions for Applicants are available.

4.2 There is no set formula for success in promotion. Committees judge each application on its merits, weighing up the mix of achievements and evidence each applicant puts forward, as set out in the Academic Performance Standards, and the coherent case each applicant makes based on this evidence.

4.3 The time-frame that will be considered in promotion applications is either:

(a) the last five (5) years; or

(b) if employed for less than five (5) years, since commencing at the University; or

(c) since last promotion, if promotion occurred within the last five years.

The exceptions to this are:

(a) for Level E, the entire career is considered (with a focus on the last five (5) years); and/or

(b) for staff that were previously employed by QUT that became UniSC employees through a Transfer of Business, the performance and achievements prior to the transfer will be recognised, up to five (5) years.

5. Call for Applications

5.1 On behalf of the Vice-Chancellor and President, the Director, People and Culture calls for applications each year.

5.2 Within ten (10) working days of the call for applications:

(a) prospective applicants who are considering applying for promotion will advise their Cost Centre Manager by email of their intention to apply. The intention to apply email should include a completed summary sheet (the first two (2) pages of the Academic Promotion Application Form).

(b) if the prospective applicant is a Head of School they advise the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), by email, of their intention to apply and provide a completed summary sheet (the first two pages of the Academic Promotion Application Form).

(c) if the prospective applicant is a Director of a UniSC Research Centre/Institute, they advise the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), by email, of their intention to apply and provide a completed summary sheet (the first two pages of the Academic Promotion Application Form).

(d) the Cost Centre Manager will provide a response via email within five (5) days of receipt.

5.3 Within a further ten (10) working days, the Cost Centre Manager speaks with each prospective applicant to discuss their intention to apply and provides advice about the content of the summary of their case for promotion. This can include recommending not applying, or postponing applying if the Cost Centre Manager deems it to be in the best interests of the prospective applicant because the case is not likely to substantiate the performance and achievement required for promotion.

6. Applications

6.1 All applications must be on the official Academic Promotion Application Form.

7. Submission of Applications

7.1 Applications are submitted by email to by 5.00 pm AEST on the closing date, which is specified in the call for applications. Late applications will not be accepted.

7.2 The Cost Centre Manager confirms that:

(a) the applicant advised of their intention to apply in writing within ten (10) working days of the call for applications; and

(b) the relevant Cost Centre Manager met with the applicant to discuss their intention to apply; and

(c) to the best of their knowledge, the information provided in each application is true and correct at the time of submission.

7.3 If an application is received from an applicant who failed to advise of their intention to apply, the application is deemed ineligible for consideration and is not to be submitted to People and Culture for consideration by the relevant Promotions Committee.

7.4 If the Cost Centre Manager is of the view that an application does not present a persuasive case and provide clear evidence of sustained academic performance and achievement at a higher level than that to which an applicant is currently appointed, the Cost Centre Manager can counsel an applicant to withdraw their application. An applicant can choose whether or not to heed the counsel.

7.5 The Cost Centre Manager will have ten (10) working days from the closing date to submit by email to People and Culture ( the following:

(a) completed signature section in Part Two, Section 4 of the application form; and

(b) for applications to Levels D and E, the name and contact details of at least two (2) recommended independent external assessors with a brief statement of why the person has been chosen and an indication of their standing within the discipline/field.

7.6 For applications to Levels D and E, People and Culture provides the details of recommended independent external assessors provided by the Cost Centre Manager to the Chairperson of the Promotions Committee, or delegate, to seek confirmation of their suitability to provide such an assessment.

(a) If a recommended assessor is not confirmed, People and Culture liaises with the Cost Centre Manager to identify an alternative independent external assessor.

(b) Within five working days of confirmation of the suitability of independent external assessors, People and Culture contacts each nominated assessor to seek a confidential written assessment.

8. Receipt of Applications by People and Culture

8.1 People and Culture acknowledges receipt of each application in writing to the applicant.

9. Information to Supplement Applications for Promotion

9.1 Independent External Assessments

9.1.1 Independent External Assessments are sought for applications to Levels D and E. An independent assessor must be a full Professor who is an internationally recognised expert within the applicant’s discipline/field. An assessor does not act as a referee, but as an eminent expert who is invited to offer a balanced and confidential assessment of the merits of the application and an indication of the applicant’s academic standing, impact and influence. The independence of the assessor to the applicant is critical to ensure an objective assessment.

9.2 Research Performance Data

9.2.1 For each application, the committee members access applicant’s individual research data online.

9.2.2 The research data includes information about each applicant’s publications, grants and Higher Degree by Research supervisions and completions at the University.

9.2.3 Applicants to Level E need to provide their own information of income, supervision and publication from previous positions at other institutions. This must be provided in the CV and referred to in the application. It is important that applicants distinguish the income they received from externally funded grants and also whether a higher degree student was supervised by the applicant as a co-supervisor or primary supervisor.

9.3 Referee Reports

9.3.1 Applicants are responsible for distributing their complete applications to their nominated referees along with the last page of the Promotion Application Form which contains information for referees and the Performance Extract (available on MyUniSC) regarding detailed performance information for the level to which the applicant is applying. The referee will then send on, as directed in the application form, their confidential written referee report directly to People and Culture by the due date.

9.3.2 For applications to Level B, all three (3) referees can be internal or external. For applications to Level C and to Level D, two (2) or more referees must be external to the University (i.e. only one (1) internal referee is permissible for applications to these levels). For Applications to Level E, all three (3) referees must be external to the University.

9.3.3 Referees are considered external to the University if they have not been a staff member or adjunct staff member of the University within the five years before the year of the promotion application. Otherwise, they are considered an internal referee.

9.3.4 A Cost Centre Manager may not act as a referee for an applicant within their work area.

9.4 Presentations

9.4.1 Applicants to Level E will deliver a ten minute presentation to the Professorial Promotion Committee. This will be followed by a question and answer session with the committee.

9.4.2 Applicants will be advised of the promotion presentation schedule. Presentations will occur in November and applicants should make themselves available at the time they are scheduled.

10. Supervisor Role

10.1 The supervisor plays a key role in all stages of an applicant's promotion application, particularly in assisting and advising applicants in the preparation of their application.

10.2 An applicant’s supervisor, in consultation with the supervisor’s direct line manager when required, will play a strong role in providing advice and comment on the quality of the application and whether the application builds a compelling case for promotion. The supervisor should use the summary section of the promotion application form to assist in assessing the strength of the case for promotion and for guiding discussions with the applicant.

10.3 The supervisor will be involved in the provision of feedback to both successful and unsuccessful applicants and in assisting unsuccessful applicants to implement any actions from the feedback and planning for professional development.

11. Promotions Committees

11.1 The role of the Committees is to evaluate applications and determine whether or not each applicant has demonstrated sustained academic performance and achievement commensurate with the level to which they are applying to be promoted.

11.2 Two (2) Committees are constituted to consider applications from eligible staff. When constituting the Committees, gender and diversity balance is taken into consideration.

11.3 Academic Promotions Committee

11.3.1 The Academic Promotions Committee evaluates applications to Level B and Level C and makes recommendations to the Vice-Chancellor and President via the Chairperson. The Academic Promotions Committee comprises:

(a) Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic (as Chairperson);

(b) Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) or nominee agreed to by the Chairperson;

(c) Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students) or nominee agreed to by the Chairperson;

(d) Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global and Engagement) or nominee agreed to by the Chairperson;

(e) at least two Heads of School/Directors nominated by the Chairperson.

11.4 Professorial Promotions Committee

11.4.1 The Professorial Promotions Committee evaluates applications to Levels D and E. The Professorial Promotions Committee comprises:

(a) Vice-Chancellor and President or nominee (as Chairperson);

(b) Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic or nominee agreed by the Chairperson;

(c) Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) or nominee agreed to by the Chairperson;

(d) Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students) or nominee agreed to by the Chairperson;

(e) Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global and Engagement) or nominee agreed to by the Chairperson;

(f) two external Professors. The Chairperson can select and invite prospective external Professors to join the Committee.

11.5 The Chairperson can invite other suitably qualified people to join either Committee.

11.6 The Director, People and Culture allocates appropriate administrative support and procedural advice to both Committees.

11.7 Members of the relevant Promotions Committee are provided with:

(a) the documentation provided by each applicant;

(b) access to each applicant’s research data via the online My Research USCBI report ;

(c) access to teaching data which may include EVALU8 data, teaching metrics, fellowships and awards, scholarly activities;

(d) confidential written referee reports for applicants from the referees nominated by the applicant;

(e) for applications to Levels D and E, assessment from independent external assessors;

(f) any other relevant information.

11.8 A member of a Promotions Committee cannot introduce new information to the process.

11.9 Any actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest of a committee member in relation to an applicant must be declared to the Chairperson of the committee at the beginning of the committee meeting. The Chairperson of the committee will decide if any action is necessary. Action may include exclusion of the member from the meeting during consideration of that application, or it may be determined that the committee member can participate but they cannot advocate for an applicant.

11.10 Other than for feedback given to an applicant, all documents and discussions relating to promotion applications are to be treated with the strictest confidence by all participants in, and observers of, the promotion process. Members of Promotions Committees and observers are not to discuss applications, advice, recommendations or deliberations outside Committee meetings.

11.11 The notes of meetings of the Promotions Committees are confidential and the only record of the Committees’ deliberations. A summary of the reasons for recommending or not recommending each applicant is recorded.

12. Evaluation of Applications

12.1 Members of the Promotions Committees evaluate applications to determine whether or not each applicant has demonstrated sustained performance and achievement commensurate with the level to which they are applying.

12.2 The academic performance and achievements of each applicant, as presented in the application, are to be evaluated in relation to the norms that prevail in the applicant’s particular discipline or field, and relative to opportunity.

12.3 The University’s wellbeing and reputation depends on a wide and varied range of academic contributions. Thus, when considering a case for promotion, it is recognised that:

(a) Academic staff work in a variety of disciplines that have differing expectations and norms;

(b) workload allocations for academic staff vary, particularly in relation to the proportion of time assigned to undertake teaching, research and engagement;

(c) the focus of an academic staff member’s work and the balance between the three (3) areas of performance can change throughout their career;

(d) staff have diverse responsibilities and varying opportunities to engage in the full range of academic activities and service to the University.

12.4 It is recognised that specialisation in one area of activity may occur. Where this is the case, the expectation is that there will be emphasis on the designated area/s of specialisation, however, evidence of accomplishment in the other areas where workload has been allocated over the period considered for application would still be expected in accordance with the Academic Performance Standards. For example, a 20-40% work allocation in an area of activity represents a significant investment of time and therefore the application should reflect that significance.

12.5 The University uses the Academic Position Classification Guidelines (PCGs), which are generic statements, to describe the broad categories of responsibilities of academic staff at different levels.

12.6 The work of academic staff is such that the levels of appointment share common tasks. The University has identified distinctions between academic levels in the activities, outcomes, quality, influence and impact of teaching, research and engagement. To clarify these distinctions, Academic Performance Standards have been developed to complement the PCGs.

13. Academic Performance Standards

13.1 In order to evaluate applications objectively, fairly and rigorously, members of Promotions Committees need to be clear about the differences between the academic levels. To achieve this the Academic Position Classification Guidelines (PCGs) for the academic levels A to E, in conjunction with the Academic Performance Standards, are to be used by Promotions Committees to determine recommendations to promote.

14. Recommendations and Decisions to Promote

14.1 On behalf of the Academic Promotions Committee, the Chairperson makes recommendations to promote to the Vice-Chancellor and President.

14.2 The Vice-Chancellor and President may seek advice or clarification from the Chairperson of the Academic Promotions Committee on any recommendation.

14.3 The Vice-Chancellor and President can approve or not approve any recommendation to promote.

14.4 The Vice-Chancellor and President’s decisions are final.

14.5 Each applicant is advised in writing whether or not their application has been successful. Feedback will be given verbally if requested by the applicant (see below).

14.6 The Vice-Chancellor and President reports all promotions to Council.

14.7 After the promotion round is complete, the Vice-Chancellor and President announces promotions to the University community.

15. Unsuccessful Applications

15.1 Re-application Timeframe

15.1.1 When an application is deemed unsuccessful, the Promotion Committee will specify the timeframe before the applicant can apply again, up to a maximum of three (3) years. The re-application timeframe (i.e. one (1) year, two (2) years or three (3) years) will be advised to the unsuccessful applicant.

15.2 Feedback to Applicants

15.2.1 To assist with subsequent applications and future development, each unsuccessful applicant may request feedback on their application, and this is given by meeting with the Chairperson of the Promotions Committee or their nominee, and their Cost Centre Manager to discuss their application. Successful applicants are also encouraged to request feedback on their application to guide their career trajectory.

16. Implementation

16.1 For successful applicants, promotion to the next level will apply from the start of the first full pay period in the year following the call for applications. Successful applicants will be appointed at Step 1 of the salary classification to which they are promoted.