Probation for Academic Staff


DATE OF APPROVAL: 5 May 1992 (Minute C-3/92.32)

AMENDMENTS: Approved by Council 8 June 2005; Revised 5 June 2020 (Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture (PTC).

REFERENCE AUTHORITY: Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture

Applicable industrial instrument (refers to the applicable Collective Agreement, Enterprise Agreement, Award, Australian Workplace Agreement, contract of employment or legislation)

Performance Management Policy and Performance Development and Management Framework

Procedures on Probation for Academic Staff

Vice Chancellor’s Authorisations



Policy statement

The purpose of this policy is to provide a guide to the management of probation for academic staff to be applied in conjunction with the Procedures on Probation - Academic Staff and the applicable industrial instruments.



Probationary period is a period of mutual assessment during which a decision about the continuation of employment can be made.

Confirmation of employment is a formal acknowledgement that a staff member ceases to be on a probationary period.

Termination of employment is notification that the staff member ceases to be an employee of the University of South Australia.

Performance and Development Plan is a document which describes the outcomes, indicators and performance expectations of the position and a development plan for the staff member.

Supervisor for the purposes of this policy, refers to a member of staff who is delegated with the authority and responsibility to directly supervise the performance of other staff.

Senior manager in this context refers to Executive Deans; Director of a University Research Institute; Director of a Central Administrative Support Unit; the Provost & Chief Academic Officer; and the Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Enterprise.  



  1. Academic staff appointed to continuing or fixed term contract positions will normally be subject to a probationary period. The length of the probation period for continuing and fixed term appointments is specified in the Procedures on Probation - Academic Staff. However, the probation period may be varied with the approval of the Vice Chancellor or nominee in line with the Procedures and the provisions of the University of South Australia Enterprise Agreement 2023.
  2. The length of the probationary period will be included in the Letter of Appointment and/or Contract of Employment.
  3. The supervisor is responsible for monitoring and reviewing the performance of each staff member during the probationary period in line with the following:


Performance and development plan

The supervisor will establish a performance and Development Plan with the new academic staff member in accordance with the University’s performance development and management framework and procedures as they relate to probation. The plan should contain clear outcomes and result areas and address any development needs of the staff member including, completion of a staff development program on teaching in higher education where specified in the staff member's Employment Agreement.


The formal annual review

The performance plan will be reviewed on a regular basis throughout the probation period, in line with the performance management cycle, with formal reviews being carried out annually as a minimum.

The supervisor will conduct a formal review of performance during the final year of the probationary period. The review may be held earlier if required.

The supervisor will report at least annually to the relevant senior manager and to the local Academic Probation Committee on the staff member’s progress.

The supervisor will recommend to the relevant approving authority whether the appointment should be confirmed or terminated.

The academic staff member will be advised of, and given an opportunity to respond to, any adverse material about the academic staff member which the University intends to consider in a decision to confirm or terminate employment.


Confirmation of employment

The academic staff member will be notified when their employment has been confirmed and their probationary period has ceased. Where employment has been confirmed the performance management process will continue according to the University’s performance development and management framework.


Termination of employment

If a staff member is deemed unsuitable for a position for reasons of performance or conduct, the probationary period may be terminated on the giving of notice. The required notice period is specified in the Procedures on Probation - Academic Staff. Payment may be made in lieu of notice.


Appeals and grievances

Staff members are referred to provisions contained in the applicable industrial instrument (Collective/Enterprise Agreement) with respect to grievances arising from the academic probation process.


Responsibilities and/or authorities

Offers of employment and termination of employment are to be made consistent with the Vice Chancellor's Delegation of Authority (VCA). In Academic Units the approving authority for employment is the Executive Dean, for University Research Institutes it is the Director and for Central Administrative Support Units, the Provost & Chief Academic Officer.

Senior managers and supervisors are responsible for the operation of this policy.

Academic staff members are responsible for participating fully in the induction, probation, and performance management processes of the University.



The Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture is responsible for the development and continuous improvement of this policy.


Further information or assistance

Further advice regarding academic probation can be sought from:

  • Supervisors and senior managers
  • Local People, Talent and Culture Business Partners.