Notification of vacancy

A vacancy for an Administrator can occur for a variety of reasons, including:

  • normal retirement
  • ill-health retirement
  • resignation
  • dismissal
  • death in service

Temporary but long-term replacements could be required as result of:

  • secondment
  • maternity leave
  • illness
  • accident
  • other extended leave of absence

Whatever the cause departments should notify their Divisional Secretary and the Director of Human Resources immediately they become aware of the need to recruit a permanent or temporary replacement. On being notified of the pending vacancy the Divisional Secretary should provide the Head of Department with a copy of this guide and the guide to the induction and probation procedures for Administrators. Electronic versions of these guides may also be downloaded from the Personnel Services website.

Arranging continuity

In the case of normal retirement, secondment, maternity or other situations with a long lead-in the departure date of the current Administrator will be known well in advance and a measured approach can be taken to the recruitment of a replacement. But if the vacancy arises due to resignation or other unexpected circumstances the post could be vacant within a much shorter period. Allowing for the preparation, recruitment and selection procedures plus the probability that the chosen candidate will need to work out a period of notice, the department should expect that a period of at least four, and more likely six months will elapse before a new Administrator is in post.

Therefore the department should first consider whether the post will remain filled throughout the period of recruitment. If the post will remain filled the department will be able to move on to the actions below. If that will not be the case, the department should try to arrange temporary cover from within their own resources. This may require some rearrangement or division of duties. If departmental cover is not possible, the assistance of the Divisional Secretary and the Director of Human Resources should be sought to enlist support from another department, division or central services.

Revision of duties and grading of post

The impending departure of an Administrator provides an obvious opportunity to consider the possibility of reorganising administrative functions. It is recommended that the department takes some time to review their administrative organisation and the duties to be undertaken. The outcome of these investigations should be reflected in an updated job description and to aid the drafting of this document model job descriptions are available from documents. The difference between the two documents is in the area of strategy and planning together with the person specification. The model job descriptions should be adapted as necessary to meet the needs of the department.

If the duties to be undertaken are different to those previously carried out the revised job description will need to be submitted to Personnel Services for grading in accordance with the procedures detailed on this site.

Selection panel

It is important that the selection panel is formed early in the process. In choosing the membership of the panel the likely timescale involved needs to borne in mind. Ideally, all individuals on the panel should be available throughout the recruitment period to ensure equality of treatment. For similar reasons and the avoidance of bias the panel should have a wide range of experience and expertise and be composed of both male and female members. The panel chairman must have undertaken a recruitment and selection briefing offered by the University within the previous four years. Details of the University's 'Recruitment and selection online' courses are available on the Oxford Leaning Institute website: All panellists should be familiar with or be briefed on the selection criteria.

The suggested composition of the selection panel is:

  • Head of Department (Panel Chairman)
  • Three other departmental academics
  • Divisional Secretary*
  • Administrator from the same Division
  • Director of Human Resources or nominee (for posts graded 9 or higher) or
  • HR Business Partner (for posts graded 7 or 8)

* To ensure that the financial competence of the eventual appointee can be properly explored at interview the Divisional Secretary should consult with the Divisional Financial Controller as appropriate, and may nominate the DFC as an alternative divisional representative to sit on the panel.

This gives a panel of seven covering the whole university administrative organisation with the departmental representatives in the majority. A larger panel could possibly seem overwhelming at interview without adding significantly to the outcome of the selection process. However, for a large department the departmental representatives on the selection panel may need to be increased to cover all aspects of the department.