Probation & Establishment

Probation & Establishment Scheme

Probation and Establishment Process

1. Principles

The purpose of academic Probation and Establishment is two-fold:


  1. To provide a reasonable period of employment during which the new appointee can benefit from additional support and guidance in order to establish teaching and appropriate academic administrative activities and to establish research activity. To facilitate this, it is recommended that, where possible, a new appointee is afforded a lighter administrative and teaching load during his/her first year in post. The teaching and administrative load could then be increased to the disciplinary norm over the duration of the Establishment period. Inexperienced staff (with less than five years experience as a university academic staff member) should also be supported through a mentoring programme.
  1. To enable the University to be assured on the quality of the appointment and that the new appointee will be able to carry out all responsibilities required and to an appropriate high standard.


During both the Probation and Establishment periods, appointees should be provided with particular guidance and appropriate training opportunities as relevant to their level of previous experience and in support of their role. New appointees with no or limited previous teaching and assessment experience will be expected to participate in the University’s teaching and learning development programmes. Mentoring programmes will be established at University and College levels to guide and support new staff members as appropriate to their previous experience. Joint supervision of research students will be required for staff with no or limited previous experience , and particularly where the students’ period of study will be longer than the duration of Establishment. New staff may not be sole supervisors for PhD students until they have been co-supervisor to a student through to completion.


Following successful completion of the Establishment period, a staff member shall be awarded tenure and hence confirmed in post. The LP&E Board will refer any issues arising from unsatisfactory Establishment reports back to the Head of the relevant academic unit.


2. Definitions

The total Probation and Establishment period will ordinarily extend to three years. Probation shall also apply to contract posts that exceed 1 year in duration.

Probationary Period:  The purpose of the Probationary period shall be to provide an initial opportunity for assessment by the University of an individual's capabilities, reliability and suitability in respect of their appointment. This period shall ordinarily be one calendar year following commencement in post as a Lecturer or Senior Lecturer.  

Establishment Period:  The purpose of the Establishment period is to provide the University with the opportunity to ensure that the staff member has demonstrated the potential for continuing development as a university academic and that provision has been made for reasonable development opportunities and support to allow the staff member to realise their full potential in post.This shall ordinarily be a further two-year period following a successful Probationary period (such that the Probation and Establishment period covers a total of three full academic years). 

Mentoring for inexperienced staff

It is envisaged that a mentoring programme will be established by HR in consultation with the Colleges and academic units in question. The programme would consist of both generic and College-specific elements including orientation and development opportunities. An academic mentor should be appointed within the academic unit (this should ordinarily be an experienced staff member other than the Head of unit).

Assessment of performance:

Performance is assessed against clear objectives and criteria as agreed between the appointee and the Head of academic unit in which the new staff member is employed. These objectives and criteria for probation should be established within two months of commencement of the post; following successful probation within two months of the start of the establishment period; and thereafter reviewed six-monthly throughout the establishment period.   Performance measures will relate to teaching and examining, research and scholarly standing and administrative contribution. The relevant Selection Committee for the post should make proposals in regard to any developmental areas that they identify as required for the potential appointees, particularly in regard to competence and experience in teaching, and performance measures should include any such specific recommended criteria. Generic criteria are presented in Appendix 1. Where there is a failure to agree on objective criteria, the final decision will rest with the LP&E Board.

The role of the LP&EB is to consider and approve the probationary and establishment reports received. Issues arising from unsatisfactory probationary and establishment reports are to be dealt with by the Head of College and Head of academic unit in close cooperation with the Department of Human Resources and Organisational Development.


3. Probationary period

The usual period of Probation on appointment as a Lecturer/Senior Lecturer will be one year, during which performance will be reviewed against specific and measurable benchmark criteria, established at the commencement of the probationary period by agreement with the Head of academic unit and in consultation, as required, with the Head of College.  These will be recorded and agreed with the new appointee.   Heads of academic units are required to ensure that ongoing support, direction and feedback are provided to the staff member concerned throughout the Probationary period. Any period of extended leave taken by a member of staff during the specified Probation period will not count towards the completion of the period of Probation.

Should any issues arise during the Probationary period, these will be discussed with the new appointee by the Head of academic unit at the earliest opportunity and action shall be taken to address the area of concern.     If these are of such a serious nature that they may impact upon the successful completion of the Probationary period, the Head of College and the HR Business Partner are to be advised immediately and the issues communicated to the staff member concerned.

During the probationary period, at the end of the ninth month following commencement in post, the relevant Head of academic unit will complete a standard formal report form, in which a formal judgment shall be made about a member of staff's performance against the agreed criteria during the preceding nine months and a recommendation shall be made as to whether or not the completion of Lecturer/Senior Lecturer's Probationary period should be confirmed. The candidate will be requested to confirm that they have read the aforementioned by signing the report and making any comments.

The Probation period can be extended if deemed necessary by the LP&EB, on the recommendation of the relevant Head of the academic unit and Head of College, for a maximum of a further one year period.

Where a newly appointed Lecturer/Senior Lecturer has satisfactorily completed a probationary period at the University as part of a fixed-term appointment with the University immediately prior to a permanent appointment, or from a previous permanent appointment in UCC, this shall be taken into consideration in determining the need for and duration of the probationary period.


4. Establishment

New academic staff members appointed to a tenured post will generally be placed on a two-year Establishment period following the Probation period.  In very rare and exceptional circumstances, the duration of the Establishment period may be reduced depending on the previous experience of the staff member, as recommended by the Selection Committee to the LP&EB.  Any period of extended leave taken by a member of staff during the specified Establishment period will not count towards the completion of the period of Establishment. 

Benchmarks for establishment will be formalised by the LP&E Board set against the generic criteria described in Appendix 1. All new academic appointees will be expected to attend information sessions to provide briefing on the benchmarks for Establishment.

At the start of the Establishment process, Establishment objectives to be attained by the appointee within the Establishment period must be identified and agreed between the Head of academic Unit and staff member and should include any specification recommended by the Selection Committee for the post and be set in relation to the generic Establishment criteria (Appendix 1).  Such information will be communicated to the relevant Head of College in addition to the LP&EB. 

During the Establishment period, the University shall request two standard formal reports:

  1. the first report should be submitted by the Head of the Academic Unit to both the Head of College and LP&E Board at the ninth month of the Establishment period or shortly after to ensure that the staff member has completed two teaching periods. This report should form an interim report on progress and should include information on the mentoring provided and development undertaken. The interim report is designed to monitor the progress of the staff member, alert the LP&EB to any potential difficulties and to enable it to ensure any remedial support or action is made available in good time should it be deemed necessary;
  1. the second report, at the eighteenth month, shall take the form of a final report containing a further update on progress and performance together with a recommendation from Head of Academic Unit and Head of College concerning Establishment in post or otherwise.

Where deemed necessary, the LP&EB may require additional interim reports and further remedial support or action be made available.  Both reports shall be considered in the context of the relevant particulars and detailed responsibilities of the post in addition to performance criteria that have been agreed. A recommendation to the President as to whether or not the relevant staff member has successfully completed the establishment period, and should be granted tenure, shall be made by the LP&EB following review and consideration of the final report.  Lecturers/Senior Lecturers can thus expect to be awarded tenure at the end of the final year of their Establishment period providing they have met the agreed Establishment requirements.  In certain circumstances, the LP&EB may recommend extension of the Establishment period for a third and final year. 

In order to offer confirmation of tenure of appointment following the Establishment period, the University must be satisfied that a staff member has:

  1. carried out assigned and varied tasks as set out in the relevant particulars of post to an acceptable standard, including teaching duties, research and scholarly activity and examining and administrative duties;
  2. shows potential for continuing development as a university academic in his/her professional field through his/her work performance and commitment by meeting the agreed performance criteria.

In cases where specified and agreed Establishment criteria have not been met, the University will  take steps to end the appointment, in accordance with University policies and procedures.  In order to decline to confirm a staff member in post, the University must be able to provide a record that

  1. appropriate opportunities for training and support were available and participation encouraged;
  2. due warning was given with regard to the issues of poor performance by the relevant Head of Department/School or other appropriate Senior Officer of the University;
  3. continuing advice and assistance towards improvement were offered.


5. Appeal


A staff member may appeal the decision not to approve establishment through the relevant University appeal process as provided for under Universities Policies. Such an appeal must be lodged within 1 month of notification of failure to complete the establishment process.



Appendix 1


Generic criteria for Probation and Establishment


All staff completing probation and applying for establishment will be assessed against criteria grouped under three broad areas:

  • Teaching and Examining
  • Research and Scholarly Activity
  • Contribution to Department/School, College/Faculty and University, and Community


A set of criteria is given under each area; these are indicative rather than prescriptive and should not be seen as representing the sole/complete set of such relevant activities and achievements pertinent to the area of assessment. Additional College/disciplinary specific criteria may also apply. The relative proportion of workload assigned to each of the areas may vary depending on the discipline, academic unit and nature of the post and appointee. It is recommended that a new appointee is afforded lighter administrative and teaching duties during the first year in post.


Teaching and Examining

  • Evidence of satisfactory teaching quality (student surveys, peer review) , currency, breadth and depth of coverage and evidence of integration of research into teaching
  • Effectiveness in and contribution to examining and assessment of student’s work
  • Development and implementation of teaching methods and materials
  • Module development
  • Supervision of undergraduate research projects, minor theses for taught masters and contribution to other postgraduate programmes 
  • Availability for advising and providing other assistance to students
  • Evidence of teaching and learning development and self-improvement


Research and Scholarly Standing

  • Evidence of productive research activity
  • Consistent and continuing output of research through scholarly peer-reviewed publications, creative works or written materials used in public performance as appropriate to the discipline
  • Evidence of other scholarly activity including attendance and/or presentation of papers at conferences and seminars, membership of professional associations, academic refereeing etc.
  • Development of postgraduate research and supervision
  • Evidence of activity in seeking competitive research grants appropriate to the discipline
  • Staff members should normally have acquired or be well advanced towards completion of a PhD or equivalent professional qualification or experience relevant to the discipline prior to establishment in post.


Contribution to School/Department/Discipline, University and Community

  • Undertaking administrative responsibilities in the School/Department/Discipline
  • Contribution to various activities, such as open days and other school liaison activities
  • Participation in departmental/school planning, income generation, fund raising, and publicity
  • Contribution to external committees or bodies
  • Contribution to adult and community education
  • Demonstrates harmonious and collegiate behaviour, contributes creatively to new initiatives, and takes on duties in support of the department/school and colleagues
  • Professional relations with students
  • General commitment and co-operation


Appendix 2




a. Terms of Reference


1.         To consider progress on Senior Lecturers and Lecturers who are serving a probationary period.

2.         To consider the establishment of Senior Lecturers (excluding promoted staff) nearing the end of their probationary period and making recommendations thereon to relevant faculties and Academic Council.

4.         To consider the establishment of Lecturers nearing the end of their probationary period and making recommendations thereon to the Academic Council.

5.         To consider applications from Lecturers for promotion to Senior Lectureship grade and making recommendations thereon to the Academic Council.

6.         To carry out the foregoing tasks in accordance with the terms of the relevant Schemes as adopted by the Governing Body.

7.         To report from time to time, and at least once in every four years, on its operation of the Scheme.


b. Membership Structure


Two members ex officio - President and Registrar;

Eight academic members (Professors, Associate Professor and Senior Lecturers) made up of representation from each of the four Colleges, the composition of which to be determined by the Academic Council.  

The Secretary to the Board is the Director of Human Resources. 

The membership of the Board shall have gender representation.


c. Appointment Procedures of the Board


The Board shall be appointed by the Academic Council following consultation  as to the academic membership with  the Colleges/Faculties.   Appointments shall be staggered, with four members being appointed every two years, to serve a 4-year term of office.


Casual vacancies shall be filled as above from within the relevant constituencies (i.e., College/Faculty groupings or non-academic members) following notification of the vacancy by the LPEB.


If vacancies arise on the Lecturers Promotions and Establishment Board they will be filled without delay.  A quorum (at least 7 members of the Board) must be present when decisions are taken regarding ranking of candidates for promotion.


d. Code of Practice for Committee members of the LP&E and Appeals Boards.


A code of practice for the conduct and to overcome potential conflicts of interest of Board members will be drawn up by HR.


e. Term of Office


A board member's term of office shall be four years


f. Current Membership

Human Resources

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