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The New Academic Career Structure

In order to secure LSE's continued status as a leading international university and to bring clearer procedures and greater equity to faculty members, the School has developed a New Academic Career (NAC) structure which aims to improve the recruitment, mentoring, review and remuneration of career academic staff.

All staff at LSE are highly valued by the School and, although these proposals outline a new career structure that is intended to improve the package for career track academic staff, this is not intended to devalue the worth or high standing of other staff within the School.

Migration to the new scheme for academic staff will be on a voluntary basis and all academic staff will have the option to remain working under their current job description, salary band and job title - although there will be no further career progression through the current academic career structure and staff will have to move to the NAC in order to achieve further promotion. Should a staff member decide not to opt-in, they will be able to register their intention to opt in at any point of the year, however opt-ins will only be actioned on an annual basis following the initial implementation exercise.


Key Features of the NAC

The “new career structure” refers to a set of nine specific changes; in other respects the career structure and related rules governing employment for career track academics remain unchanged. The proposed changes are:

1. A common career path of three basic ranks. Currently the School recognises four career steps: Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader, and Professor. However, these are not utilised consistently across departments. In some, the four are treated as sequential steps which are followed in order. In others, colleagues are normally submitted for promotion from Lecturer directly to Reader and the title Senior Lecturer is seldom longer used. This creates an apparent gender imbalance in our promotion patterns because the Senior Lecturer title has been retained in those departments with a higher proportion of women. The School has had external legal advice (that has been shared with the UCU) which suggests that this is a vulnerability in our pay structures.

2. Different titles. Appointments Committee and Council approved a proposal that the best descriptors of a common three rank system would be the increasingly prevalent global academic titles of Assistant, Associate and Full Professor. New role profiles, which have undergone wide consultation, have been drafted to reflect the expectations of these roles. These role profiles have been subject to both internal and external HERA evaluation and the new posts represent a new and unique academic job family within the School’s pay structure.

In the case of existing Readers at the School, those who choose to transfer to the new proposals can adopt the title of “Associate Professor (Reader)” should they wish. This will not be an option for new appointments to the School who may have held the title of Reader elsewhere.

3. Flexible timing of Interim and Major Review (the School’s academic probation process). In place of the norm for the number of years that candidates should remain in rank before being reviewed for permanent contracts or potential promotion, increased flexibility in the timing of Major Review has been approved. Flexibility is warranted because faculty members’ work develops at different rates – even when of comparably excellent quality, because faculty members contend with different personal situations, and because departments hire faculty members at different career stages (in some disciplines new faculty typically come straight from PhD programs with few publications and little teaching experience; in others they typically have significant postdoctoral experience and more publications and teaching experience before they arrive). It is therefore proposed that: (a) all new faculty should be presented for Major Review within eight years from their appointment; (b) that extensions following maternity, paternity and adoption leave and long-term illness should be automatic and that a further one-year extension can be proposed where Departments judge they need more time to evaluate the work of a candidate (but believe that it is likely that the candidate can meet Major Review standards); (c) that Departments should be able to present colleagues for Major Review without waiting any prescribed number of years, and whenever they feel confident that a candidate meets the appropriate Review criteria.

4. Combining Major Review and Promotion. Currently candidates may be reviewed for permanent employment without meeting requirements for promotion. Under the new structure, success at Major Review will automatically lead to promotion to an Associate Professorship -the career grade for academic staff at the School.

Should a member of staff fail to pass Interim or Major Review, the School will normally terminate their employment, as is currently the case. This will be informed by the decision of the Promotions Committee and in such circumstances staff will be invited to attend a meeting Chaired by either a Pro-Director or the Provost and Deputy Director, with their Head of Department and HR Partner.

This meeting will be to explain the circumstances and to give notice of termination of employment (as they have failed to pass the Schools academic probationary process). However should an academic colleague wish to appeal against any termination of employment under these specific arrangements they will have the right of appeal – which will be the appeals process contained in theAcademic Annex.

5. Increased emphasis on mentoring, training, and constructive review. The obligation of the School is not merely to judge whether junior colleagues have met the criteria for retention or promotion but actively to help them meet those criteria – and more generally flourish as scholars. This requires high quality career mentoring and training as well as assistance in securing research support. It is also important for colleagues to receive constructive counsel about their progress toward meeting Major Review criteria, and it is proposed that all colleagues who have not passed major review should benefit from annual reviews combined with mentoring, and all who have passed Major Review should similarly benefit from reviews every two years as they progress towards promotion. Reviews should help candidates develop their careers, as well as help them be clear about their progress towards promotion at the LSE. Further to this, the School will ensure that the Promotions Committee will provide written feedback to all colleagues who fail to pass a review, giving clear and insightful comment on the areas in which a candidate needs to improve. For Associate Professors who have an unsuccessful promotion case for Full Professor, the Promotions Committee will also provide such written feedback. The School already has a clear scheme for academic career development; the new commitment is to ensure that this is operating effectively and consistently, under the leadership and direction of the Provost and Deputy Director.

6. Higher minimum salaries. Being able to attract and retain academics, who may be weighing up multiple job offers, is critical to the success of the School. The cost of living in London is a constraint to recruiting junior academics, as it is for many staff who work at LSE, but for those who join us it is a real burden. Accordingly, the starting salaries will be raised to a more realistic market rate of £50,387 per annum (step 39.5 on the current single pay spine, rate as at 1 August 2012, to be increased on 1 August 2013 in line with the national pay award), and commensurate increases applied to the minimum salaries of the other academic grades. Appendix 1 of this paper outlines the new salary scales for academic staff.

7. Terms and Conditions. New Academic staff joining the LSE as an Assistant New Academic staff joining the LSE as an Assistant Professor will be offered open-ended contracts of employment linked to the successful completion of both Interim and Major Review – rather than fixed term contracts, as at present.

8. Pay progression. Staff migrating to the New Academic Career Structure will continue to be paid on the LSE single pay spine and receive any national agreed pay awards. However, there will be no automatic annual increments – pay progression within each of the three new ranks will determined via the Schools contribution pay arrangements (through consolidated or non-consolidated increases).

9. Notice Periods. The UCU requested that the School consider notice periods for academic staff following information the union obtained on the arrangements in force at many other Russell Group institutions. With this in mind the School will amend notice periods for those staff migrating into the New Academic Career structure thus bringing them in line with other HEIs. The new contractual notice periods for career academic staff under the NAC will be a minimum of one full term's notice on either side.

This represents the minimum level of contractual notice the School would have to give academic colleagues regarding any changes to terms and conditions but also termination of contract. Any such change or termination would only take place in exceptional cases and only be effective once the appropriate process has been followed by the School.

For more information about the NAC or for the opportunity to ask any questions you can speak with your Head of Department, HR Partner, or email