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PASS Scientific and Technical promotions process

How the SO/TO ad hominem process was developed | Terms of Reference for SO/TO Promotions Committee |
Process after an unsuccessful application

How the SO/TO ad hominem process was developed


In 2005 a task team, consisting of Scientific Officers (SO) and Technical Officers (TO), HR representatives from relevant faculties and the UCT Skills Development Officer, was set up to:

  • develop criteria for promotion (documented as the competency profile);
  • make recommendations for the promotions process.

Using competencies alone (the competency profile) as a basis of achievement was problematic, often leading to subjective evaluation of candidates for promotion purposes. Thus, during the period 2009 - 2013, and in order to shift the focus to performance, a STOA (Scientific and Technical Officers' Association) task team developed a new instrument - the 'performance standards document'.

This performance standards instrument was developed to:

  • Differentiate the roles of the SO, and the TO, in supporting teaching and/or research and/or management at the University;
  • Distinguish the performance indicators or outputs appropriate for each rank / level.

The performance standards document should enable all of the following:

  • The candidate's representation of their performance as befits the core functions of their position;
  • Objective evaluation of a candidate's performance level by the Promotions Committee, and assessment of whether it complies with an incremental standard;
  • Referees' motivations of a candidate's performance against standardised indicators / outputs for a particular rank.

Broader context

Given the role that SO/TOs play in supporting the academic endeavour, performance management, career development and retention strategies need to be explicit and transparent. The elements below show the broader context within which the promotion process resides.

If Then
the candidate and line manager wish to determine performance and development plans apply Development Dialogue (DD) process
candidate consistently meets criteria for promotion by delivering outputs consistent with that of a higher position level follow promotion process
operational requirements of the position change / grow apply for position evaluation
the candidate wishes to apply for an academic post (see Performance management - academic staff) consider whether an academic post is available for the candidate to fill

Terms of Reference for SO/TO Promotions Committee

General rules and guidelines

The terms of reference should be understood in conjunction with the general rules and procedures for committees, as published in the Principal's Circular, and on the governance intranet.

General Provisions

  • The structure, function and powers of this committee, and any sub-committee, must be approved by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) with the portfolio for academic leadership and development.
  • The Promotions Committee must consider all applications (i.e. no applications may be suppressed).
  • To utilise accepted criteria for the evaluation of SO/TO candidates for promotion.
  • Thoroughly review each candidate's submission, applying principles of fair assessment to inform each recommendation for promotion.
  • To maintain confidentiality at each step of the process up until the candidate has been informed of the outcome by the relevant Dean.
  • To maintain a confidential feedback process to candidates.
  • To adhere to agreed timelines of promotion process.


  • To evaluate applications or nominations for the promotion of SO/TO staff
  • To make recommendations for promotion

Eligibility of SO/TO candidates

The candidate will have worked in their current position for a minimum of 3 years.
Permanent SO/TO staff members are eligible. Achievements will only be considered and evaluated in services and support provided by the staff member at UCT.
Candidates that have failed to be promoted must wait for two years before they may apply again.


The candidate submits the following documentation, which HR makes available to all promotions committee member for confidential review.

  1. Candidate's motivation for, and evidence of, performance in the core functional areas, using the performance standards template to capture this information. See: Performance Standards template for SOs; and Performance Standards template for TO.
  2. Nomination letter by the candidate / a senior staff member / the HOD.
  3. Names and email addresses of up to three job-related referees, one of whom must be the candidate's HOD.
  4. Name and email address of person chosen by the candidate who, after the Promotions Committee has deliberated, could represent the candidate's interests and answer any queries the Promotions Committee may have.
  5. Position description (on HR191 template) reflecting current operational requirements of the section (signed by the HOD / Line Manager and the incumbent).
  6. Copies of the candidate's 2 most recent performance evaluations.
  7. Current CV.
  8. Any additional supportive documentation.

Formulation and composition of committee

Each year the SO/TO Promotions Committee will meet to assess candidates' submissions.

Prior to the promotions meeting, committee members are expected to review the documentation of each candidate. Such documentation is made available for confidential review prior to the committee meeting.

Membership of the Promotions Committee:

Members on the committee Capacity
1 x Deputy Vice-Chancellor (nominated by the Vice-Chancellor) Chair with Full Voting Rights
4 x Deans of relevant Faculties (FHS, Science, EBE, Humanities) Full Voting Rights
7 x SO/TO constituents nominated by the Scientific and Technical Officers' Association (STOA) in line with equitable guidelines detailed in the addendum to this document Full Voting Rights
1 HR representative Non-voting, Advisory and Servicing role


  • The committee will vote by secret ballot to finalise their recommendations.
  • A two-thirds (2/3) majority vote is required in order to obtain a recommendation for promotion.

Quorum rules

All members must be present.

Terms of office

For consistency, it is recommended that members from the STOA will serve on the committee for at least 2 consecutive years.


Time-lines for the ad hominem process are outlined below:

  Description Timeline
1. The Dean (Health Sciences, Science, EBE, Humanities) calls for applications and nominations for SO/TO promotions. July/August
2. The Promotions Committee is finalised. July/August
3. The candidate submits all required documentation necessary for evaluation by the Promotions Committee August/September
4. Faculty HR Practitioners collate all relevant documentation submitted by candidates and make it available to Promotions Committee members for their review prior to the promotions meeting. September
5. The Promotions Committee meets to evaluate all SO/TO applications and make recommendations for promotions. October
6. Recommendation for promotion is approved and candidate notified by letter. October
7. The relevant Dean provides constructive feedback to unsuccessful candidates in writing, and would invite candidates to a face-to-face meeting, which should include the HOD or line manager. October
8. Any review decision is signed off by the Promotions Committee Chairperson. October
The ad hominem process will be reviewed regularly for fairness and efficiency Ongoing
Last reviewed: June 2016

Process after an unsuccessful application

Every applicant for ad hominem promotion has a right to feedback. The Dean of the relevant faculty is responsible for constructive feedback to the unsuccessful staff member.

The Promotions Committee's decision is final. However, an applicant may request a review of the process if she/he believes that there may have been a significant degree of unfairness in the procedure. The applicant should submit a letter stating the grounds for unfair process on which the review is requested. This to be submitted via the relevant Dean within 14 days of notification of the ad hominem promotion outcome. The applicant may not submit any additional materials in support of his/her application for review which were not originally submitted to the committee.

A DVC not involved in the ad hominem process, designated by the Vice-Chancellor, should then decide whether the application has merit to be reviewed for unfair process using:

  • The relevant Dean's written comments on procedural fairness and reasonableness of the decision.
  • The Promotions Committee's decision and the reasons for its decision.
  • The applicant's full portfolio including performance representation against SO/TO promotions criteria, and referees' reports, as submitted with the initial application.

If the selected DVC finds the process to be unfair, the DVC remits the matter to the SO/TO Promotions Committee for reconsideration, with written reasons.

Addendum: The seven (7) SO/TO constituents nominated by the Scientific and Technical Officers' Association (STOA) should represent the SO/TO sector equitably in terms of:

  • Faculty (FHS, Science, EBE, Humanities)
  • Scientific Officers / Technical Officers
  • Gender and diversity
  • Majority representation (in other words 4 of the 7 constituents) should be NON executive members of STOA. Max 3 STOA executive members to be nominated as constituents.

    Nominees should be permanent senior staff members (preferably minimum level PC 10)

Page last updated: 3 July 2017