Academic Head Appointment Policy


Those applying for the role of academic head and staff members who support the selection and appointment process.


To outline the principles and processes for appointment to the position of academic head


The role of academic head as a scholar/leader is one of the most important in the University. The appointment of an academic head should be undertaken with rigour using an open and fair process that is consistently applied across the University


Appointment process

1. The process of appointing a new academic head will begin twelve months prior to the end of the tenure of the current academic head. The appointee will be known as the academic head designate.

2. An expression of interest process will be run to seek interest from suitable candidates from within the academic unit/faculty.

3. The dean will run a formal appointment process and this will include the formation of an appointments panel, chaired by the dean.

4. The panel will include members of the faculty leadership team and representation from members of the unit.

5. The panel will interview each candidate.

6. If there are a number of candidates the panel may elect to shortlist prior to the panel interviews. Note - please refer to Academic Head Appointment Process.

7. Panel members will be the conduit for confidential feedback from staff members in the academic unit during the appointment process and panel deliberations.

8. The dean will make a recommendation on the appointment to the Provost and the Director of HR, having taken advice/received recommendations from the panel.

9. This recommendation will include details of the headship variable supplementary allowance (VSP), the research and/or teaching support and the allocation of workload weightings.

10. There may be circumstances where the dean may elect to recruit externally, with Vice-Chancellor approval, following the University’s recruitment policy and process.

Note - The process will be consistent with the Equity Policy and Procedures.

Term of appointment and time allocation

11. The normal term of appointment is four to five years.

12. In exceptional circumstances (refer to procedures) there may be an extension to the term of one year, with approval from the Vice-Chancellor.

13. If a second term is under consideration the dean will seek confidential feedback from the academic unit before making a recommendation to the V-C.

14. The allocation of time to the role will be by negotiation with the dean and would usually be between 0.4 and 0.6 FTE.


15. The academic head role description and associated guide outline the key duties and responsibilities for the role.

16. It is recognised that the leadership and management of an academic unit will normally mean that an academic head will undertake fewer teaching duties than other members of the academic unit.

17. An academic head should remain research active during their tenure.

18. The workload weightings will be reviewed annually as part of the Academic Development and Performance Review process (ADPR).

Support package

Professional development

19. A professional development plan will be agreed in consultation with the dean and Human Resources for an academic head designate and thereafter on an annual basis through the ADPR process.

20. In the period leading up to the commencement date the designate is expected to participate in the University’s academic head induction programme.

Research time and headship leave

Research time during headship

21. In consultation with the dean the academic head should allocate four weeks per annum for research activities, in one or more blocks of time. This time can be accumulated and used flexibly over the term of appointment, although no more than eight weeks shall be taken at one time.

Headship Leave

22. An academic head who has completed their term is entitled to apply for headship leave which accumulates at the rate of 6 weeks per annum to be taken at the end of the term.

23. This leave may be taken in two blocks of 3 months, to reduce disruption to the unit and to assist with the transition of the new head.

24. The total leave taken at the end of the term, including any period of research and study leave should not usually exceed one year. Refer to the Research and Study Leave policy for details including Grant in Aid entitlement.

25. Where an academic head is appointed to a second consecutive term as head:

a. headship leave may be taken between the first and second term as outlined above although it may not be taken in conjunction with research and study leave unless the dean believes suitable arrangements for an acting head can be made

b. if the head is not able to take the headship leave between terms they may take it at another convenient time in the first or second year of their second term in agreement with the dean

c. heads will accrue headship leave at the rate of 4 weeks per annum during their second term, this must be used during the second term and can be combined with research time

d. during their second term a head may apply for RSL to be taken at the end of their term


26. Support terms and conditions will be confirmed by the dean in consultation with the academic head and will balance the circumstances of the individual with the needs of the unit.

27. The headship VSP component of the support package will be paid as a taxable non-superable allowance within the range $10,000 to $30,000, in accordance with the framework outlined in the Academic Head Support Package guidelines.

28. Research and/or teaching support will be negotiated with the dean, within the parameters outlined in the Academic Head Support Package Guidelines.


The following definitions apply to this document:

Academic head refers to the role that leads an academic unit within a faculty and reports directly to the dean of the faculty. The role is a level 3 position. Level 4 academic heads in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences are covered by faculty specific procedures within the parameters of this policy

Academic head designate refers to the successful applicant after the appointment has been made, and prior to beginning in the role

Workload weightings refers to the distribution of tenths between teaching, research and service and leadership

Headship VSP refers to a payment made in recognition of the increased responsibilities of the academic head role

ADPR refers to Academic Development and Performance Review

Grant in aid is a payment made to a staff member who has been approved research and study leave in order to assist with covering actual incurred costs during the period of leave

Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University on a full or part time basis

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries

Key relevant documents

Document management and control

Owner: Director of Human Resources
Content manager: Associate Director: HR Advisory
Approved by: The Vice-Chancellor
Date approved: 14 September 2017
Review date: 14 September 2020