Awards for Excellence Scheme


The purpose of the Awards for Excellence Scheme is to recognise staff contributions to the work of the University and to reward exceptional individual contributions. All eligible staff should be reviewed annually in the gathered field exercise by a panel at departmental level.

For the sake of parity, transparency and ease of monitoring, there is no provision for making performance-related incremental payments to staff outside the annual exercise.

The University’s pay structure provides all staff in grades 1-10 with automatic incremental progression (up to the scale bar), over and above cost of living rises, to reward and recognise the acquisition of the skills, knowledge, and expertise that comes with experience in a post. The Awards for Excellence Scheme recognises contributions over and above this and rewards employees who:

  • have performed well in all the key areas of their jobs, AND
  • have consistently demonstrated exceptional performance, significantly above that which might reasonably have been expected for their grade.

A range of examples of ‘exceptional contributions’ is provided in the scheme landing page.


The assessment process for the Awards for Excellence Scheme should take place in Hilary term each year, considering performance across the previous calendar year. Each year the process is followed, the arrangements for payment must be undertaken in April and the payments effective from 1 April.  Any exceptional circumstances which may warrant later payment arrangements should be referred to the Reward Manager ahead of processing.

Types of Award

There are two possible types of award which can be given under the Awards for Excellence Scheme:

Recurrent awards consist of pensionable advancement to the next point on the incremental scale; and

Non-recurrent awards take the form of a non-pensionable lump sum to the value of one increment (typically 3% of salary).

It is expected that in the majority of cases non-recurrent awards will be made.

If using recurrent awards this will be primarily for those who are at or above the scale bar for their grade and whose exceptional performance is expected to continue. Recurrent awards cannot be made to those at the top of the discretionary scale for their grade. An annotated salary structure is provided on this page to demonstrate the use of recurrent and non-recurrent awards.

Only non-recurrent awards can be made to those on E grades or the Apprentice grade as these grades have set routes of salary progression.

Awards should be based on the individual’s salary scale point at 31 December of the calendar year under review.

Awards for part-time staff should be prorated.

Awards for Excellence are limited to one increment (c.3% of salary) in all cases.

The Awards for Excellence Scheme does not provide for ‘team awards’, but the work of teams can be rewarded under the Recognition Scheme.


Nominations for awards will be made primarily by line managers, this may be at the level of team leader/head of section, and should be defined as appropriate by the department.

Line managers should conduct an initial review of all the staff they manage against the criteria for awards in order to help ensure a broad range of nominations across all grades and types of work. If they consider that a member of their team has met all of the criteria, they should outline the case and collate any supporting evidence in a nomination form. The review panel will require robust evidence on which to base their decisions. The nomination form must contain examples relating to the University’s criteria and the review panel must reach its decision solely on this evidence. Managers should inform their staff if they have been nominated.

Managers should bear in mind that only a small proportion of staff (circa 10%) will receive awards. They should avoid creating high expectations by nominating more team members than might reasonably be expected to receive an award.

Self nomination

Individuals who believe they deserve an award should discuss this in the first instance with their manager. If the individual and the manager cannot reach agreement about submitting a nomination, the individual may nominate themselves using a self-nomination form. Self-nomination forms contain a mandatory field for the manager’s comments and the individual should allow reasonable time for their manager to comment before the submission deadline.

The individual applicant will be responsible for gathering evidence to support their case. The manager should state whether they believe the case provides a fair, accurate and complete reflection of the employee’s work, responsibility and contribution, giving supporting evidence wherever possible, before submitting it to the review panel.

Sample nomination forms, which can be customised by departments, are provided in the documents section of the scheme landing page.

Review panels

Departments are encouraged to use small decision-making panels (e.g. three members of the management board, to include the Head of Department or their nominee, with at least one member of each sex) to minimise the investment of time among senior staff. It is not expected that the panel will include representatives of every area of the department. Panel members will make decisions on the basis of the evidence in nomination forms and use their discretion on how to assess fairly any ‘contested’ self-nominations. Administrators will service the panels, provide advice and seek support from HRBP’s in complex cases. Brief records should be kept of the grounds for decisions about individual cases.

Panels have the discretion to award a recognition payment (£200) as an alternative award when a nomination for an Award for Excellence has been made, but a recognition payment is considered to be more appropriate. The recognition payment should not, however, be used in consolation for any other type of award.

The panel should inform all those who were nominated whether or not they have been given an award. This is most likely to be via the line manager.


Individuals who are not given an award should discuss any concerns with their line manager in the first instance. If they remain dissatisfied, it may be deemed appropriate for them to receive individual feedback from a member of the departmental panel.

In the unlikely event that individuals’ concerns cannot be allayed within their department, there will be provision to appeal decisions either: on the grounds of a significant procedural irregularity, or where an individual can show reasonable grounds for believing that the department’s decision was made because of a protected characteristic or amounted to victimisation. There will be no provision for reconsideration of the evidence for and against awards to individuals i.e. individuals will not be able to appeal simply because they disagree with the decision reached by the panel.

Appeals should clearly state the grounds for the appeal and any supporting evidence and should be sent to by 1 June of the year in which the decision has been taken. No appeals will be accepted after that date. The Reward Manager will assess each appeal to ensure it meets the criteria outlined above and convene a panel consisting of a member of Personnel Services and a member of the relevant divisional office to consider any appeal that does meet the criteria.

The department will be invited to respond in writing to the appeal and the panel will make its decision on the basis of the written appeal and the department’s written response. The decision resulting from this appeal process will be final; there will be no further right of appeal.