Reader faculty position cut

The University has decided to phase out the historic academic position of ‘Reader’ after concluding the position was “not widely understood”.

The changes were supported in a 7th December council meeting after their proposal by the task force that has worked on the University’s policy for future promotions since 2005.

Reader is the second most senior position for academics at Oxford, before Professor, and is one unique to the oldest universities in the UK, with equivalent positions in newer UK universities and in the US termed Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor, respectively.

Despite the seniority of the position, the University has decided to phase it out as the title is “redundant”, according to the University’s Press Office.

“Thirty-three of the thirty-six full-time readers already have the title of professor, and many readerships, on becoming vacant, are upgraded to chairs”, according to Ruth Collier, Head of the Press Office.

Collier continued: “The term is only known in a few countries, and there is inconsistency even between those countries as to what it actually means.”

Dr. Christopher Hodges, speaking on the separation of academic title and salary proposed by the task force in 2008, said: “I can think of a recruitment instance when a foreign applicant would not have the title of Professor in her job description here, and that was a significant factor in her turning the job down.”

The full extent of the task force’s proposals put an end both to the conferment of the title of Reader and to any internal promotion in the university. “There would be no promotion to full-time professorships, other than through international competition for specific vacancies or new posts.”

A system of merit payments to outstanding academics will be offered as a replacement to the title, with successful candidates receiving “an additional recurrent payment of £2,585 per annum” according to the Gazette.

The changes will only affect future candidates, who will no longer be able to apply for the position of Reader, while current Readers will keep the title but “would be eligible to apply for the title of professor”.

May 2010
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