Birmingham Academic Career Framework

The Birmingham Academic Career Framework (BACF) is a two-year project, (with a particular focus on the career structure we provide for Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Readers and Professors) and consists of a Project Board chaired by the Provost which oversees the following Workstreams (WS):

    • WS1 – Project oversight group
    • WS2 – Career Pathways
    • WS3 – Academic Development Programme
    • WS4 – Performance and Progression
    • WS5 – Early Career Path
    • WS6 – Process and Implementation

Being an academic at Birmingham will mean different things to different people, but fundamentally, we wish colleagues to develop and maintain an academic culture of intellectual stimulation and high achievement, whilst also recognising the importance of being at Birmingham and therefore fostering  a deep affinity with the institution. 

You can read the Provost's email about the project here [PDF, 147KB].

Workstream 2

Workstream 2 of the BACF considers the both the academic career pathways and promotions framework for those on Academic Teaching terms and conditions (i.e., Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Readers and Professors).  This workstream has been divided into two phases:

    • Phase 1 was essentially related to the development of an academic career framework and promotion framework.
    • Phase 2 is concerned with the development of the detail underpinning the promotions framework.

 

 

Consultation now open

Promotions framework

The project is inviting feedback on the proposed promotions framework:

  • That all applications should include an appropriate narrative which places the application in its disciplinary context and outlines any additional circumstances which need to be drawn to the Panel’s attention.
  • That minimum overall thresholds are met by individuals in order to be considered for promotion:
    • Promotion to Professor:
      • Overall threshold = 24 points
      • E, R or EE&I threshold (depending on the relevant pathway) = 8 points
      • Citizenship threshold = 3 points.
    • Promotion to Associate Professor:
      • Overall threshold = 19 points
      • E, R or EE&I threshold (depending on the relevant pathway) = 6 points
      • Citizenship threshold = 2 points.

  • Staff are also invited to give feedback on the examples provided within the Progression/promotion descriptor documents:

Progression/promotion descriptors – Education, Research and Enterprise, Engagement & Impact [PDF, 295KB]

Progression/promotion descriptors – Leadership & Management [PDF, 172KB]

Progression/promotion descriptors – Citizenship [PDF, 181KB]

Have your say

To provide your views please email the project team at birminghamacademic@contacts.bham.ac.uk by Friday 11th December 2020.

The project team will also be running a series of focus groups that are open to all academic staff, and attending College Boards to gather feedback.

 

 

Consultation on Workstream 2 – Phase 1

Consultation on Phase 1 took place from July 2020 to September 2020. In order to obtain feedback on the proposals which were developed, a number of different mechanisms were used:

    • A dedicated email address was established and used birminghamacademic@contacts.bham.ac.uk. (It is envisaged that this email address will remain active throughout all consultations).
    • Sixteen focus groups were held for staff (including an opportunity for staff networks)­.
    • Discussions with College Boards.
    • Formal consultation with BUCU.

What did we consult on?

Career pathways

    • Renaming the current Teaching-Focused career pathway to Education & Scholarship.

    • Renaming the current Teaching & Research career pathway to Education & Research.

    • The introduction of a new Enterprise, Engagement & Impact career pathway.

New promotions framework

The project invited feedback on a new promotions framework, involving a move to a system of assessment that would consider up to five of the following contribution areas:

    • Education.

    • Research & Scholarship.

    • Enterprise, Engagement & Impact.

    • Leadership & Management.

    • Citizenship.

While we would not expect every application to demonstrate performance in all of these areas, performance in Education and Citizenship will be expected from all applications.

What feedback was received?

In general, the proposals attracted positive feedback, and in particular support for the following was affirmed:

    • The adoption of three career pathways.
    • The introduction of an Enterprise, Engagement and Impact pathway.
    • Formally including Citizenship as a category for promotion.
    • Including a minimum threshold for Citizenship for progression.
    • The new overall approach to promotion.

 

A wide variety of feedback was received which is summarised in the following list:

    • A minimum threshold of performance in one of Education or Research or Enterprise, Engagement and Impact (linked to the individual’s classification/pathway) rather than, for example, a specific one for all applications such as Education was preferred. 
    • Further clarification on how staff can move between pathways was requested.
    • Further clarification on how professional activities (e.g., clinical activities) are included was requested.
    • Further clarification on how fractional appointments are dealt with fairly was requested.
    • The importance of ensuring ED&I issues were central to considerations was noted.
    • A request that the careers of Research Fellows/Senior Research Fellows and how those on Research terms and conditions of employment can be included or otherwise considered within the career framework.
    • A request that the position of Teaching Fellows be considered. (See below)
    • The need to ensure the BACF programme is evaluated after a specific period of time to ensure it is fit for purpose particularly from an ED&I perspective. 
    • Clarification on what is meant by “scholarship”. (See below)
    • Feedback that the names of two of the pathways (Education and Scholarship and Education and Research) are too similar and potentially confusing.

The definition of Scholarship was discussed at each focus group and it became apparent that no single definition existed which was acceptable to all.

It is noted that teaching fellows (Grade 7) are considered within Workstream 5.

What happens now?

The proposals were presented to UEB along with a number of recommendations as outlined:

Proposals, recommendations, outcomes
 Proposed  Feedback  Recommendation  Action
An Education and Scholarship pathway The meaning of scholarship is unclear in this context Renamed the pathway Education Recommendation adopted
An Education and Research pathway Rename as Research and Education Renamed the pathway Research and Education Recommendation adopted
Creating three new career pathways for staff on academic terms and conditions - Education, Research and Education, and Enterprise, Engagement and Impact  Feedback from staff was positive Proceeding with the three-pathways proposal Recommendation adopted
Revising the promotions criteria and processes to create five new contribution areas - Education, Research & Scholarship, Enterprise, Engagement & Impact, Leadership & Management and Citizenship Feedback from staff was positive Introduce the five new promotions contribution areas but remove the word Scholarship Recommendation adopted
A minimum threshold must be met in Education and Citizenship regardless of the individual's pathway Strong support for the minimum threshold in Citizenship, but staff felt any additional minimum thresholds should relate to their pathway All staff will be expected to meet a minimum threshold in Citizenship as well as a minimum in their individual pathway Recommendation adopted
The career pathways and promotions criteria only relate to staff on academic teaching terms and conditions (our current lecturers, senior lecturers, readers and chairs) Staff on Research terms & conditions are often early career research fellows who also carry out teaching and citizenship roles/duties and they should therefore be included.

Staff employed on Research terms & conditions will be included in the framework for promotion purposes (above Grade 8). The support for Grade 7 will be outlined by Workstream 5 (Early Career Path) rather than inclusion in Workstream 3 (Academic Development Programme)

Recommendation adopted
Staff will progress within their career pathway  A desire for mechanisms to enable staff to move between pathways in line with their career ambitions This should be facilitated and Workstream 6 (Process and Implementation) will consider how staff move between pathways. Recommendation adopted
No proposal for a review period The changes should be reviewed at an appropriate interval to evaluate their success, in particularly in terms of progressing equality, diversity and inclusivity. A review of how the promotion contribution areas are working in practice will be carried out in the summer term of 2023 and a review of the Academic Development Programme will be carried out in the summer term of 2026. This review should contain an equality analysis. Recommendation adopted

Guidance on how professional activities (e.g., clinical activities) and fractional staff contributions should be considered will be provided to College Board Promotion panels. ED&I has already been embedded in the draft promotion criteria (which will be subject to the next round of consultation).

 

SPRC and Council
The recommendations which have been accepted by UEB will now be forwarded to SPRC and Council for their consideration and approval. 

 

Previously agreed actions

Withdrawal of the Reader title for new applicants from September 2021

The University will withdraw the title of Reader for new appointees from September 2021. The Reader title will only be retained for existing Readers and a final opportunity to apply for a Readership will be afforded during the 2020 academic promotions round.  

Title harmonisation for academic roles

The University will introduce the titles of Assistant Professor and Associate Professor to replace Lecturer and Senior Lecturer respectively. These changes are in line with international naming conventions.

Project team

The Birmingham Academic Career Framework project board is chaired by Provost and Vice-Principal, Professor Tim Jones. The project team includes academic representatives from each College as well as HR and Professional Services staff, who are contributing across the workstreams. 

Colleges

Professional Services