Academic Career and Reward Framework

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Academic Career and Reward Framework project can be found below. This page will be updated regularly in response to questions and input received from colleagues.

Last updated: 27 June 2024

Following analysis of insights from focus groups and staff engagement in Hilary and Trinity terms 2024, the intention is to finalise a proposed Academic Career & Reward Framework in Michaelmas term 2024. The proposed Framework will then be presented for formal consultation in Hilary term 2025, with a view to an agreed version and implementation timeline being finalised and communicated by the end of the 2024/25 academic year.

Staff will be kept informed about the progress of this work through these webpages and the University Bulletin newsletter, as well as at relevant meetings and events. 

The ACRF Steering Group is chaired by Professor Anne Trefethen (Pro-Vice-Chancellor, People & Digital) and membership includes divisional representation (both academic and administrative leadership roles), collegiate representation, and the Pro-Vice-Chancellors for Education and Research. The project team similarly brings together expertise from HR, Research Services, Centre for Teaching and Learning, the Academic Administration Division (AAD), and academic departments.

The Academic Career & Reward Framework project is looking at career pathways, workload, reward and recognition and contracts and policy for all staff with teaching and/or research responsibilities across the University of Oxford. It does not directly cover technical, research and teaching support or professional services roles. The Framework will be designed to accommodate joint appointments with colleges and college-only roles. A phased approach to development and implementation of the framework may be needed, across the full range of relevant role types.

Yes. The scope of the framework covers research and academic roles, regardless of either contract type (e.g. fixed-term, open-ended, permanent) or funding source (core or externally funded). It is hoped that the new framework will also give staff a clearer sense of options and progression once a particular contract or grant comes to an end.

Yes. All staff with teaching and/or research responsibilities across the University, including staff on joint appointments between the University and Oxford Colleges, are in scope. There will be a phased approach to considering how the framework applies to different groups of staff as it develops.  

This project aims to produce a single framework for academic career paths and reward that could potentially be applied across the collegiate university. The colleges are each independent employers, with their own terms and conditions of employment and governance structures, so it will be for colleges themselves to decide whether they implement the framework, for college-only staff and for the college-specific aspects of joint appointments. The Conference of Colleges is being kept informed about the development of the framework and several of the colleges are represented on the Steering Group. Staff with joint University and College appointments are amongst those taking part in staff focus groups in March 2024.

The Researcher Careers Concordat was signed by the University in April 2021 and is accompanied by a three-year Action Plan to improve support for research staff on fixed-term contracts.  The Academic Career & Reward Framework project supports our Concordat commitments by seeking to offer clear and transparent processes and criteria for career progression.

The ACRF project got underway in 2022 before the Vice-Chancellor commissioned a wider review of Pay & Conditions for all University-employed staff in her admission speech in January 2023. The scope of the two projects intersect, with the Academic Career & Reward Framework drawing on the academic pay and reward benchmarking carried out as part of the Pay & Conditions review in 2023, and insight gathered on academic workload and wellbeing. 

Outcomes of the Pay & Conditions review were shared with all staff in June 2024, including action across a wide range of pay and non-pay benefits. For academics, the agreed package of measures for more immediate implementation includes action on pay for all research staff on grades 6-10 and all staff on grade 10a (payroll system codes 30, 36, 38 for Associate Professors with Tutorial Fellowship and 39 for Associate Professors with No Tutorial Fellowship). Some of the further work to get underway in the academic year 2024/25, including proposals for restructuring salary scales and more in-depth international pay benchmarking, will be taken forward as part of the ACRF project (see Pay & Conditions: Action on Pay) together with action on non-pay priorities such as reward and recognition, professional development opportunities, and addressing workload pressures for academics (see relevant headings on the homepage of the Pay & Conditions webpages).

A series of six staff focus groups were held in Hilary term 2024, involving colleagues in a range of teaching and research roles across a broad spread of contract types, disciplinary areas, and colleges (for those with joint appointments). As part of the call for participation, the project team worked with divisional representatives and departments to ensure that the voices of a broadly representative group were heard.

From April 2024 onwards, there will be further engagement with professional services colleagues whose roles intersect with academic and research activity, to gather further insight and perspectives.

Meanwhile, there has been regular engagement and consultation with divisional and department leadership and the Conference of Colleges since the start of the 2024/25 academic year, and there are ongoing discussions with subject-matter experts in both academic and professional services roles. Once the proposed framework has been formulated and modelled, there will be a formal consultation period in Hilary term 2025 before it is finalised for implementation.

The University recognises that workload, particularly for Associate Professors, was highlighted as an area of concern in the 2023 Staff Experience Survey. The Academic Career & Reward Framework project aims to provide clarity about the expectations of staff in different academic roles, at different career grades across the University, which should help leadership teams to manage workload distribution more effectively. One of the concerns highlighted is that in the current academic roles, everyone is expected to do everything (e.g. research, teaching and leadership); this is something the framework seeks to address by creating different pathways and options for academic colleagues and a fairer distribution of roles and responsibilities.

The Academic Career & Reward Framework project is not reviewing the University’s current teaching model. The workload requirements of the existing model are, however, being considered as part of the development of the new framework for career paths and reward, with a dedicated project team workstream and staff focus groups on workload management.

Over the summer of 2023, an in-depth review of existing career and reward approaches for academic staff at other Higher Education Institutions was carried out to benchmark the University’s existing model. The findings of this analysis were mapped onto the University’s own needs to inform the initial development of a draft framework for consultation and development. The aim has been to ensure that the University’s framework is informed by best practice and aligned with the wider sector.

If you would like to share comments or questions to be considered by the Steering Group working on the Academic Career & Reward Framework project, please use this Staff Contact Form, which closes at 5pm GMT on 17 May.

You can also email academic.framework@admin.ox.ac.uk to reach the project team with any questions about the project team or Steering Group activity.