Joint appointment procedures

Ref. No. ATC/3

1. A combined recruitment process takes place; the combined university/college selection committee makes a recommendation, but this is considered separately by the divisional board on the University side and the governing body on the college side, with a view to each side making its appointment and issuing (as an autonomous employer) its own contract of employment.

2. The overall intention of these procedures is to ensure on every occasion the appointment of the single candidate best suited to the needs of the college and the University as set out in agreed joint selection criteria.

3. Those involved in recruitment to academic (and other) posts have a duty not only to be fair and even-handed, but also to adopt procedures which are unequivocally seen to be fair and are designed to convince hostile observers, and especially hostile disappointed candidates. This will call for special care and sensitivity for example where the field for the post is particularly narrowly drawn, where there might be thought to be conflicts of interest, and so on.

4. In all aspects of the recruitment procedure, regard should be made to the provisions of the University's Equal Opportunities Policy and Code of Practice, and to any similar college provisions. Those documents - and this document - should be circulated to all members of the selection committee at the start of the process.

5. Before the combined selection committee is established and the post then advertised, discussions must take place between the faculty board/department and college as to the broad field within which the appointment will be made, and a clear agreement must be reached on this. (While the precise area of the appointment may be further refined by the joint selection committee, it is important that this refinement takes place only within broad parameters clearly agreed by the faculty board/department and the college.) Similar discussions will be necessary between the two employers as to the proposed details of the joint appointments process in each particular case, including the composition of the combined selection committee, on which see 6 below, and the procedure to be followed, on which see 11 and 12 below. It will of course be helpful to ensure that the joint selection committee contains, on both the university and the college sides, members with sufficient authority and familiarity with these procedures to enable arrangements to be agreed swiftly and in accordance with good practice. If agreement cannot be reached between the two employers as to the procedure to be followed, reference may be made to the Joint Appointments Panel for mediation. In such cases the Joint Appointments Panel will expect to see a statement from each party setting out its position and explaining why it believes that its concerns cannot acceptably be accommodated in any other way. Both parties should be aware that referral to the Joint Appointments Panel will inevitably delay the selection process. Since the panel can only mediate, it must be recognised that failure to agree on the process will lead to the vacancy not being filled at all as a joint appointment.

6. The combined selection committee is then appointed. It will normally comprise seven members in total. If the post in question is an associate professorship  with the college as the major employer, and/or if the number of weekly college teaching hours to be specified in the initial contractual arrangements is equal to or exceeds eight, then the combined selection committee will comprise four members appointed by the college and three appointed by the University (the latter three to include at least one person holding a tutorial fellowship). Where  the University is the 'major' employer the combined selection committee will comprise two members appointed by the college, four appointed by the faculty board/department and one appointed by the relevant division with the approval of the college (the five appointed by the University to include at least one person holding a tutorial fellowship, if the post being advertised is associated with a tutorial fellowship). In cases where more than one college is necessarily involved e.g. joint appointments, and in cases where the field of the appointment is unusually broad e.g. for joint schools, the selection committee may be appropriately enlarged by negotiation between the two employers, the enlarged committee retaining broadly the same proportions of university and college members.

7. In the case of a post held in a department, the head of department or sub-department, or his/her nominee, must be a member of the committee (and will normally chair it if the University, rather than the college, is the 'major' employer).

8. Not all of those appointed to the selection committee need be fellows of the college (fellows being understood to include the head of house) or members of the department or (sub-)faculty: indeed it is anticipated that on many occasions it may be appropriate to appoint, for example, fellows from other colleges, members of other departments or (sub-)faculties and/or individuals from outside Oxford in order to ensure a sufficient spread of subject expertise among the committee, and in order to ensure that a broader view is available during the recruitment process.

9. Selection committees should contain at least one member of each sex if suitably qualified individuals are available. Close consultation between the divisional board and the college is necessary to see that this provision is observed in every case. At the time of the preparation of these selection procedures there are fewer women than men amongst academic staff and therefore steps should be taken by the two employers in each particular case to identify suitably qualified women from within and outside the collegiate University to serve on the combined selection committee. The advantages of asking any such women to serve should then be balanced against the dangers of tokenism and overburdening them. If, in very rare cases, it is not thought possible to identify a suitably qualified and available woman, the chairmen of the Personnel Committee and of the Senior Tutors' Committee must be consulted before a selection committee is formally constituted without a woman member.

10. The chairman of the combined committee will come from the set of members appointed by the 'major' employer. The chairman has a general role in ensuring that proper procedures are followed, that a record is kept of the decisions made by the committee at each stage of the process, and that notes are made relating these decisions to the selection criteria. All members of the committee shall have one vote in respect of all decisions taken by the committee throughout the recruitment process. The chairman is a member of the committee and has one vote, but no casting vote.

11. All members of the combined selection committee will be involved in all key stages of the recruitment process1, which must involve finalising the further particulars, including agreeing the description of the precise area of the appointment within the broad field agreed by the faculty board/department and college; preparing joint selection criteria; making decisions on which applicants' references to take up; possibly requesting written work from candidates on a long shortlist; finalising the shortlist; interviews of shortlisted candidates, who must also be asked to give a presentation2; final discussion within the selection committee of the suitability of the various candidates; and arrangements (including timescale) for the final decision of the committee to be considered by or on behalf of the divisional board and the college. All members of the committee must be aware from the outset of the procedures to be followed on both sides with regard to the selection process.

12. It will normally be the case that all aspects of the combined selection procedure will be jointly undertaken. Either employer may, however, decide to undertake a separate exercise designed, as part of the selection process, to assess candidates against one or more of the selection criteria which are of particular relevance to that employer. The status of any such exercise must be clear to all concerned (especially candidates), and all members of the selection committee are entitled to be present and to participate in that separate process. Arrangements must be made to report all relevant information from any such separate process to any members of the selection committee who were not present. Such information must involve consistent treatment of all of the candidates concerned against the relevant selection criteria. Care must be taken to ensure that the role of any individuals from either employer who may participate in any such separate process, but are not members of the selection committee, is clearly understood by the candidates, those individuals themselves, and the selection committee: their role should be strictly limited to providing objective evidence (for example on performance in a presentation) to enable the selection committee to assess all candidates consistently against the agreed criteria.

13. Any separate procedure which is not part of the selection process (such as being shown round the department, or a college drinks reception) must be clearly identified as such to candidates and all those participating in it, and no evidence from this type of separate process may be used by the selection committee or by either employer as part of the recruitment process.

14. All decisions at all stages must be taken strictly and explicitly against the agreed selection criteria.

15. The selection committee will normally meet before the post is advertised in order to finalise further particulars for the post. Standard versions of further particulars will be available (general university models): the template of tutorial duties produced by the Conference of Colleges is annexed), and these will make it clear to candidates that it is not the selection committee which makes the final decision and that no offer of appointment will be valid until and unless the recommendation has been approved by the competent bodies and formal contractual offers have been made. Each selection committee will consider particular forms of words to insert into model further particulars in respect of the individual post in question, including, crucially, joint selection criteria to inform the recruitment process. It is essential that these criteria be spelt out clearly, and that they be strictly adhered to in the appointing process. The further particulars must be approved by the responsible university and college bodies.

16. The selection committee should make every effort to reach a unanimous recommendation. If it does so, the process goes forward as under 21 below.

17. Failing unanimity, the normal expectation will be that the vote in favour of the final recommendation should amount to at least one more than is required for a majority. If this happens, the process goes forward as under 21 below; except that if a majority of either the University or the college representatives dissent from the decision they may require the matter to proceed as under 19 below.

18. If the vote in favour of the final recommendation amounts to a majority by just one vote, and if the committee is not divided along university/college lines, the process goes forward as under 21 below; except that if a majority of either the university or the college representatives dissent from the decision they may require the matter to proceed as under 19 below.

19. If there is a one-vote majority in the committee and if the split is along university/college lines, or if dissent from the majority view takes the form envisaged in 17 or 18 above, then the committee will be expected to hold at least two separate meetings to attempt to resolve the matter, discussing the points of difference with detailed reference to the agreed selection criteria and seeking whatever further information may be required to ensure that all candidates are treated fairly and consistently.

20. If after no fewer than two such meetings there remains a bare majority split along university/college lines, or if there remains the type of dissent from the majority view envisaged in 17 or 18 above, the case should be referred to the Joint Appointments Panel of the Personnel Committee unless there is a reasonable prospect that, on the basis of a report as described under 21 below, reference by the selection committee to the faculty board/department and/or governing body might help to resolve the deadlock. In any case that is referred to the Joint Appointments Panel, the joint selection committee should if at all possible submit to that panel a single report as described under 21 below. Each of the two sides in dispute should also submit such separate evidence or argumentation as they consider appropriate. Against this background it is of particular importance that no candidate is given the impression either that their appointment has been ratified, or that disagreement exists.

21. Where the joint selection committee is able to reach agreement without reference to the Joint Appointments Panel, the committee must produce a detailed report for consideration by the divisional board and by the college. This should be a single report, agreed by all of the members, reflecting, where necessary, differences of opinion. It is important that the report gives sufficient information as to the background to the recommendation. This means that the report should include a general summary of the quality of the field, and particular comments on the suitability of the chosen candidate, as against the selection criteria and against the claims of other applicants - particularly those shortlisted and interviewed. It is legally important for competent bodies which have the responsibility of making the appointment to have sufficient information to enable them to make an informed decision. It is also legally important that any input from members of the competent body at this stage (e.g. from those who may have participated in the selection process but who were not on the selection committee) does not compromise the overriding requirement for all candidates to be considered consistently against the selection criteria. Until the appointment has been approved by the competent bodies, the formal appointments of the preferred candidate may not be confirmed – though it is of course permissible, with care, to inform the candidate that his/her appointment to the posts is being recommended and considered, and what the precise terms of the appointment would be.

22. If, despite there being a decision of the selection committee which did not require the Joint Appointments Panel to mediate, either the governing body or the divisional board is in a particular case unwilling to accept the combined selection committee's recommendation, that recommendation should be referred back to the selection committee for it to give detailed consideration to the reservations of the senior body. If problems remain, the case may have to be referred to the Joint Appointments Panel.

23. The Joint Appointments Panel of the Personnel Committee will not be constrained by general procedures set out in advance to govern how to deal with what it is hoped will be rare cases of disagreement between the two sides. It will be for the panel to take account of all of the issues raised by the report of the selection committee, to take further evidence where necessary, and to seek to approach the problem in the most constructive way (noting that final decisions on appointments will always be made by the divisional board on the university side and by the governing body on the college side). The panel will have particular regard to the views of the major employer in so far as areas of disagreement impact on those jointly agreed selection criteria which are of the most significance in the context of the joint appointment concerned. Furthermore, if there is disagreement about two candidates both of whom are regarded as appointable by both sides, the panel shall recommend the appointment of the candidate preferred by the major employer save where the minority employer can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the panel that in the light of the selection criteria the preference of the major employer is perverse. If such a recommendation is not accepted, the panel shall have the power to recommend that the appointments should not be readvertised in the same combination3.

24. If any person believes that good practice is not being followed in a particular recruitment process, he or she should refer the matter immediately to the chairman of the Personnel Committee and/or the chairman of the Senior Tutors' Committee.

25. The central administration will give consideration to the possibility of providing administrative support from within the divisional secretariats to underpin the recruitment process in appropriate cases, but the availability of support is likely to be constrained by resource pressures.

26. These notes, which deal primarily with the interaction between the University and the college, may be supplemented by other descriptions produced by the University and/or the college about general good practice in recruitment.


1. If, at any stage of the selection process, any member of the selection committee becomes unable to continue to serve, the relevant college or university body appointing that member may appoint a replacement, who shall join the selection committee as soon as reasonably practicable, and in the interim the selection committee may continue with the impending stages of the selection process without that member if a majority of the remaining members judges, in all the circumstances, that it is reasonable so to proceed. A temporary replacement of one member of the committee by another for part of the process is not normally permissible.

2. The committee should decide whether the presentation should be used to assess the short-listed candidates against research- or teaching-related aspects of the selection criteria, or both. In all cases it should be made clear to the candidates what is required from them in the presentation.

3. It has been suggested that this paragraph might include examples of particular situations and how the panel might deal with them. While it would be appropriate for the panel to
consider, after each case is resolved, whether to amend these procedures to reflect general points arising, the very small number of cases hitherto considered have been idiosyncratic and have tended to lead to no specific learning points other than the need to follow various procedures - including those under the aegis of PRAC with regard to the college association - diligently and properly.