Good Practices and Tips to Appoint Professoriate Staff More Efficiently

March 09, 2018
The SMARTER@HKU Programme reviewed the University's professoriate staff appointment process and identified good practices and tips for Faculties and departments to enhance effectiveness and efficiency.

Today, universities and higher education institutions around the world are all competing for the best professoriate staff for academic excellence. Based on the principles of working smarter and achieving higher efficiency, the SMARTER@HKU Task Force on Human Resource Organisation and Processes took a review of the University’s professoriate staff appointment process and identified a number of good practices and tips.

“Faculties and departments are encouraged to adopt these good practices and tips as the first step to enhance effectiveness and efficiency,” says Ms. Aster Ho, SMARTER@HKU Task Force Leader on Human Resource Organisation and Processes and Senior Assistant Registrar (Appointments).  “The overarching rationale of these good practices and tips is to get the information ready before it is actually needed and do the necessary preparation in advance. By always thinking one or more steps ahead, we can save a lot of time and be more efficient.”

The good practices and tips are:

Good Practices

1. Set up a Search or Joint Committee in a timely way

Once a decision has been made to recruit a professoriate staff, a Search or Joint Committee should be set up so that the interview and meeting dates can be scheduled and the interview dates/period can be included in the advertisement.  This good practice can ensure that the Committee and the applicants know in advance and make themselves available during the interview period.

The setup of a Search or Joint Committee also enables the applications to be sent to members in batches as they are received before the closing date. Some preliminary screening can be done in parallel and can shorten the time needed for shortlisting after the application period closes.

For the appointment of Professors, the Department Heads can start drawing up nominations for external assessors in the field and seek endorsement from the Joint Committee and the Provost or Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Staffing and Resources) at the advertisement stage if considered appropriate, so that the list of nomination of external assessors can be ready once a recommendation on a suitable candidate is made.

2. Advertising in a smarter way

When advertising the position, it is a smarter way to state a closing date of not more than 6 weeks. As mentioned above, the inclusion of tentative interview dates/period will facilitate the interviewing arrangement. Applicants, especially those applying for Assistant Professor positions, should be advised to arrange for references to be sent in to the Department under confidential cover at the application stage.  This will save waiting time for the reference letters to come in after the shortlisting process.

3. Raise e-Financial Clearance Form earlier

Much time will be saved if you raise the e-Financial Clearance Form (e-FCF) for approval by Finance & Enterprises Office (FEO) as soon as possible at or before you place the recruitment advertisement. In this way, when a suitable candidate is recommended and the appointment is approved, a letter of appointment can be issued immediately. 

4. Seek Dean’s confirmation in underwriting funding

The Dean may also confirm that he/she will underwrite funding.  In that case, Human Resource Section (HRS) can issue a letter of appointment without waiting for financial clearance from FEO.

Tips

The e-FCFs supported by the following fund types can route through the “Fast Track” process as and when the Administering Authority considers it necessary to issue a letter of appointment urgently and undertakes to make good any deficits thus arising. When the ‘Fast Track’ box in the e-FCF is checked, the letter of appointment can be issued before financial clearance is done by FEO.  

The fund types concerned are:

(a) Human Resource Account (HRA):

(b) Operating Expenses Account (OEA) Note 1;

(c) Cumulative Balance Account (CBA) Note 2;

(d) One-line Budget (OLB).

Note 1: OEA can be used for temporary appointment on a 12-month contract or shorter. Other longer-term appointment should be charged against HRA.

Note 2: As CBA is not meant for recurrent expenses such as staffing, the use of CBA for staff appointment should have prior approval from the Provost.

For e-FCFs supported by fund types other than those listed above, they can go through the “Fast Track” process only when (i) the duration of appointment period is less than or equal to 12 months; AND (ii) the total contract sum is HKD200,000 or below.

 “By adopting these good practices and tips, it is estimated that the appointment process can be shortened by some 6 weeks,” says Aster. “This can help the University recruit the best professoriate staff efficiently and not to lose them to other institutions.”

Your feedback on the good practices and tips is warmly welcome. Please write via email to apptunit@hku.hk. For enquiries, please contact the HR administrator-in-charge of your Faculty/Department.