Step 1 Request for Variation of Duties
Variation of Duties may be requested by the individual, or by the relevant College or Department/Faculty in cases where it relates to the undertaking of administrative duties. Individuals considering making an application under the scheme should contact their college Senior Tutor or department/faculty head of administration, who should be able to advise on local processes for implementing the scheme.
Requests should normally be made at least two terms in advance to allow time for proper consideration of the request and for appropriate substitute arrangements to be put in place, for example, at the latest by the end of 2nd Week of the relevant term (for example, 2nd Week of Hilary term for variations proposed to commence in Michaelmas term of the same calendar year). Earlier notice than this will often be helpful: notice of less than two terms could mean that either or both employers might not be able to consider the request.
The optional form (VoD Record of Agreement) may be used if any of the parties (individual, College, University) wish to do so.
Step 2 Consideration of the request
The scheme acknowledges both the commitment of the University’s Strategic Plan to “maintain the tutorial system at the heart of Oxford’s distinctive approach to undergraduate teaching”, and the need for flexibility at the level of the individual academic, in order to recruit, retain, motivate, and develop high-calibre academics who will be committed to the collegiate university. It will be in the interests of all parties to try to meet reasonable requests for flexibility.
The optional form (VoD Record of Agreement) provides a checklist of the matters which need to be considered.
It is the responsibility of the party/parties requesting a variation or supporting a requested variation which would involve the individual taking on additional duties for one employer:
- to explain why this change could not be accommodated by that employer without requiring any reduction of duties for the other employer
- to find a detailed solution acceptable to all parties
- to demonstrate how the full range of the individual’s current duties would be discharged effectively during the period of variation
In addition the following should be taken into account:
- the effects the proposed variation would have on the workloads of others and/or on their opportunities to seek variation themselves (this is intended to ensure fairness and sustainability in the subject, and it should not disadvantage applicants in single-tutor subjects)
- the effects on the long-term care of students (both what they do on a day-to-day basis, as well as oversight of their overall educational development), particularly in single-tutor subjects in Colleges
- whether the individual is likely to return successfully to full duties after the period of variation, and if not, what the implications for the individual and for the University and College are
- especially if approval looks for any reason to be borderline, the individual's history including matters such as, on the one hand, recent externally funded research leave and, on the other, the individual's commitment to the common good in accepting administrative tasks either in the University or the College
Step 3 Arrangements for substitute teaching (where required)
Arrangements for Variation of Duties should balance the career aspirations of postholders with the needs of students: the guarantee of substitute provision of high quality is recognised as being crucial.
Substitute teaching provision may involve:
- one employer providing the other with teaching at no charge (provision “in kind”) from a suitably trained and qualified teacher (for instance, an early career researcher, a CDF or college JRF, an APNTF, or an RSIV, whose substantive contracts might require them to do some teaching if asked)
- one employer's providing financial compensation to the other, according to a set of standard buy-out rates (see Step 4)
Robust quality assurance must be put in place in order to ensure that the arrangements for replacement teaching and/or tutorial provision safeguard the maintenance of high standards in educational and pastoral support for students. Replacement teachers should receive appropriate induction and mentoring. In particular, arrangements for substitute teaching should include an assurance that everyone involved is appropriately qualified, competent, supported, up-to-date, and developed.
Step 4 Arrangement for payment for substitute teaching
Provision “in kind” should always be the first option to be explored.
Where substitute teaching is provided “in kind”, but the college duties to be covered include broader tutorial duties that might otherwise have necessitated the use of a stipendiary lecturer, then the Department/Faculty would reimburse the College for modest additional costs as appropriate. Agreed costs under this heading are a tutorial responsibility allowance, meals, and an academic allowance. In such cases, care will be needed in the case of the use of a college Fellow (such as an 'APNTF') for any but the shortest arrangements to avoid issues of lack of parity of total emoluments with Tutorial Fellows within the College (though it should be noted that the maximum duty being replaced is 50% of full tutorial duties).
In some cases, tutorial duties other than teaching itself might be provided by appointing a Director of Studies, which could involve similar additional costs to those in the preceding paragraph. This provision acknowledges that some applicants for variation of duties might wish to continue teaching but to be relieved of other administrative and pastoral roles in College. While this option represents a radical departure from the expectation at Oxford, it is included as a possibility which might be considered if there were a suitable person, perhaps already providing teaching in the College, who was willing and able to take on the role of general oversight: in such a case, this option could be an attractive route to maximise the delivery of teaching by the Tutorial Fellow.
The rates for use when one employer (University or College) needs to reimburse the other in respect of the cost of replacement teaching have been agreed by the University and Colleges and are published by the Conference of Colleges and updated from time to time (see the Register of Approved Payments issued by the Senior Tutors’ Committee.)
Where it is necessary to employ replacement teachers, the buy-out rates to be used have been agreed by the University and the Colleges and are intended to cover fairly all the major additional costs incurred whilst at the same time aiming for relative simplicity (for example, by using an approach based on an estimate of typical costs). There are three rates:
- Rate A, a basic capitation rate.
- Rate B, to cover the employment of a retained lecturer. This rate should only be used where it is needed to obtain a teacher of sufficient expertise or to secure the availability of a teacher over the desired period.
- Rate C, to cover the employment of a stipendiary lecturer. This rate should only be used if no suitable alternative can be found. The duties to be covered would probably include most of the following: tutorials, setting and marking collections, arranging out-of-college tuition, guidance of students, oversight of their academic progress in the long term, pastoral oversight, attendance at Tutors' committees, open-day and access work, admissions selection.
Details of the rates are given in the Register of Approved Payments issued by the Senior Tutors’ Committee.
Step 5 Agreement
There is no automatic right to Variation of Duties; all three parties (individual, University, and College) must agree to the variation and to the practical and financial arrangements for any substitute provision required.
The optional form (VoD Record of Agreement) may be used as a record of the agreement if any of the parties so wish.
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