Probation for Academic Staff


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

AMENDMENTS: Approved by Council 8 June 2005; Revised 17 January 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, Award, Australian Workplace Agreement, contract of employment or legislation)

Performance Management Policy and Performance Development and Management Framework

Procedures on Probation for Academic Staff




Policy statement

The purpose of this policy is to provide a guide to the management of probation for Academic Staff and be applied in conjunction with the Procedures on Probation for 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 supervise the performance of other staff.

Senior manager in this context refers to Executive Deans, Directors of Research Institutes and Central Units and members of the Enterprise Leadership Team.



  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 for Academic Staff. However, the probation period may be varied with the approval of the Vice Chancellor or nominee.
  2. The length of the probationary period shall be included in the Letter of Appointment and/or Contract of Employment.
  3. The supervisor shall be responsible for monitoring and reviewing the performance of each staff member during the probationary period in line with the following:


Performance plan

The supervisor will establish a performance plan with the new academic staff member in accordance with the Performance Development and Management Framework as they relate to probation. The plan should contain clear outcomes and result areas and address 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 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 of the Research Institute, Academic or Central Unit on the probationer’s progress who will recommend to the relevant approving authority, or in the case of Executive Deans make a determination on whether the appointment should be confirmed or terminated.

The academic staff member shall 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 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 on either side. The required notice period is specified in the Procedures on Probation for 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, Award, Australian Workplace Agreement, contract of employment or legislation) with respect to grievances arising out of the academic probation process.


Responsibilities and/or authorities

Offers of employment and termination of employment are made consistent with the Vice Chancellor's Delegation of Authority (VCA). In academic units the approving authority is the Executive Dean, in Research Institutes the Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Enterprise and in Central Units, the Provost and Chief Academic Officer.

Senior staff with approving authority, senior managers of Academic Units, Research Institutes, Central Units and supervisors of academic staff are responsible for the operation of this policy.

Staff are responsible for participating fully in the probation, induction and performance management processes.



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


Further information or assistance

Management and staff may seek further advice regarding Academic Probation from:

  • Their immediate supervisor
  • relevant Executive Dean/Director of a Research Institute/Director of Unit
  • Local People, Talent and Culture Business Partner.