Academic promotions and open-ended contracts

Academic Promotions  


Over the last four years, the faculty has improved the promotions and senior recruitment processes and also taken the opportunity on several occasions over the past few years to make direct or strategic appointments at senior levels.

Improvements to the promotions process include:  

  • Additional one-to-one support, guidance and training, in particular from the Head of Department or Head of School;  
  • Open invitation ‘How to Get Promoted’ sessions delivered annually by the Dean and HR manager.  
  • HR provide advice and guidance on how to appropriately present the impact of any EDI related issues on outputs to ensure cases can be judged appropriately by the Promotions Committee. This includes part-time workers, those with caring responsibilities and those with restricted travel. 
  • Specific session for Pathway 3 (Teaching-focused) academic staff on the new Promotions framework being introduced in 2020-21 with a chance to feedback to Staff Development on how best the university can enable teaching-focused roles to be promoted.  

 Gender diversity in Promotions: 

Across the faculty, five women have been promoted to Professor since 2015 and all female staff who sought promotions since 2015 have been successful, equating to a 100% success rate. As is visible here, the number of women applying for promotion has increased also. 


In Computer Science, one woman was promoted to Reader and two women were promoted to Professors 


  • One woman in Computer Science was promoted to Senior Lecturer  
  • One woman in Electrical and Electronic Engineering was promoted to Professor.  
  • One woman in Engineering Maths was promoted to Senior Lecturer  
  • One woman and one man in Aerospace Engineering who job share have been promoted to Reader together 
  • This is the first time a job share had been considered as a joint promotions case, paving the way for similar promotions in the future 


  • One woman, who works parttime in Aerospace Engineering was promoted to Professor, paving the way for other part-time academics to obtain Professorships 
  • One woman in Electrical and Electronic Engineering was promoted to Professor 
  • One woman in Computer Science was promoted to Senior Lecturer 


  • Two women in Civil Engineering were promoted to Senior Lecturer  
  • One woman in Mechanical Engineering was promoted to Professor  
  • One woman in Aerospace Engineering was promoted to Reader 
  • One woman in Computer Science was promoted to Senior Lecturer whilst on maternity leave  
  • One woman in Computer Science was promoted to Professor 
  • One woman in Engineering Maths was promoted to Reader having started as Lecturer five years before 
  • One woman in Computer Science was promoted to Reader and is now head of a thriving research group having started in 2015 as a Lecturer with two maternity leaves in that time 

 SCEEM – promotions

In SCEEM, the difference in the proportion of female staff across pay grades has considerably lessened, from 20% or 17 female staff members at Grade I to 9%, and 7%, or 4 and 2, at grade L and M, respectively)  

  • In 2017-2018, four out of five pay grades had more than 15% female staff
  • 17% (6 staff members) are at the highest pay grade (M)
  • Moreover, we find that total staff numbers for these pay grades are increasing which demonstrates that this effect is a combination of both increased recruitment and promotion for female staff (see below).  
  • We are therefore seeing more women in senior academic roles than previously, and a more even spread of women across the grade structure. 
  • Prior to 2015 only 4% of Senior Lecturers in SCEEM were female, by 2017-2018 this had increased to 12% and the faculty hopes to continue this upwards trajectory.  

 CAME  – promotions

The school has supported improvements to the promotions process with the following measures:

  • Circulation of an anonymised summary of successful Professorship applications 
  • Improved the promotions guidance for Pathway 3 teaching-focused academics 
  • Production of clearer information and exemplar metrics/evidence of success for their future promotion cases.  


Open-ended contracts

What have we done so far for academic staff on Fixed Term contracts?: 

Across the faculty, all academic staff on Pathway 3 (teaching-focused roles) are now on open-ended contracts unless they are providing teaching cover for less than a year. This represents a significant change for Pathway 3 academic staff, as historically we used short-term contracts when a post had short term funding. We recognised that this was impacting negatively on people’s sense of job security, and so have worked to rectify this, ensuring a large number of staff are transferred onto open-ended contracts. This has hugely improved job security and has opened up career progression opportunities to all academic staff on teaching-focused pathway.  

We next hope to tackle short-term contracts for academics with teaching responsibilities on Pathway 1 (combined teaching and research roles) of which there remain a small number of people providing teaching cover on short-term contracts. Our ambition is to reach a stage where these staff are on open-ended contracts.  


Pathway 2 staff – Research Associates and Research Fellows – are the next group with whom we are consulting on job insecurity. It is a sector-wide challenge that all universities face – how to facilitate better job security for staff on Pathway 2 – due to the short-term nature of research funding. However, we have ensured that as far as possible, research staff are on Open Ended contracts even though their funding is short-term or has a fixed end date.

At the start of 2020, we conducted focus groups with Pathway 2 staff and 1-1 interviews and a set of recommendations goes to  Faculty Board in July 2020.