Scientia Professors

Approving Authority:
Vice-Chancellor
Date of Approval:
1 December 1997
Last Amended:
May 2012
Contact Officer:
David Gleeson, Academic Promotions Manager

1. Preamble

UNSW highly values excellence in both teaching and research and recognises the need for excellence in both core activities of university life to maintain its position at the leading edge of Australian universities. In its determination to be a truly world class university, UNSW must provide special support and particular recognition of research performance. In December 1997 the University Council approved a proposal by the Vice-Chancellor to establish a special category of Professor to recognise outstanding research performance. Such persons will be known as Scientia Professors, the term "Scientia" being drawn from the University's arms and reflecting the University's commitment to the promotion of all branches of intellectual and practical scholarship.
The Scientia Professor Protocol supports what we value as a University as defined in the B2B Blueprint to Beyond: UNSW Strategic Intent document including:
1. Academic freedom
2. Leadership
3. Innovation, initiative and creativity
4. Recognition of merit and excellence
5. Integrity and high ethical standards
6. Equity, opportunity and diversity
7. Mutual respect, collegiality, teamwork and high service standards
8. Professionalism, accountability and transparency
9. Safety
10. Environmental sustainability

What we value is embedded in our policies, processes and procedures.
The number of Scientia Professors at any one time will not be fixed, but to preserve this distinction for true international eminence in research, Scientia Professors would represent, in time, up to a proportion of the Professoriate similar to the proportion the Professoriate is of the total academic staff of the University.

2. Guidelines for the Award

The award of a Scientia Professorship will be on recognition not only of past research eminence but also having regard to ongoing research and/or outstanding research stature.
Recognition of outstanding research performance will have two elements: the title of Scientia Professor; and a monetary award component of base salary plus up to 30% per annum to be used as salary supplementation. The title and monetary award are separate but related. Both will be considered when it is determined that a nominee should be recognised for distinguished research performance. It is possible for one to be awarded and not the other. Awards will be for six years.
Criteria for the award will centre on significant international recognition of prominence in research. Specific indicators will include:

  • An impressive portfolio of major publications with international publishers and world class journals;
  • Internationally recognised prizes, awards, patents, honours, membership of one of the four learned academies or comparable organisations etc;
  • Citation by a broad cross-section of peers internationally
  • Reports of eight referees, of which the majority are international if appropriate and possible;
  • Evaluation of future research potential and benefits to the University's research profile.;
  • There is an expectation that all nominees will have a close association with UNSW in that research income by way of grant support will be administered through the grants research office at UNSW.

3. Procedure for 2012

Normally by mid year of every second year, the Vice-Chancellor will write to all
Professors in the University inviting them to indicate one or more of their fellow members of the Professoriate for consideration for appointment as a Scientia Professor.

Candidature for the Scientia Professor award will arise through peer-nomination, not
self-nomination, although a nominee's agreement that their nomination can go forward will be required.

The Vice-Chancellor has the authority to confirm Scientia Professorship appointments and in doing so will ensure that those recommended for appointments have adhered to the guiding principles as a University as outlined in the B2B Blueprint to Beyond: UNSW Strategic Intent document.

Note: The Vice-Chancellor may decide not to seek nominations in any scheduled year, for example, if the current proportion of the Professoriate who are Scientia Professors is close to or exceeds the proportion of the Professoriate to the total academic staff of the university.

  1. 1. Members of the Professoriate should convey nominations, by 30 July and in confidence, to the relevant Dean or the Rector of UNSW CANBERRA.

  2. 2. Deans/Rector may seek further confidential advice from senior colleagues as to the suitability of potential nominees. It is those nominees whose names the Dean/Rector plans forwarding to the University Scientia Professor Committee who will be asked by their Dean/Rector if they wish to be considered for appointment as Scientia Professor. The Deans/Rector should finalise their list of nominees as soon as possible and are encouraged to consider the gender balance of their list of nominees. The Deans/Rector should affirm that each nominee adheres to what we value as a University.

  3. 3. The Dean/Rector in conjunction with the relevant Head of School (or past Head of School if the current Head is a nominee) will prepare a list of names of possible referees agreed to by the nominee. From this list eight will be selected by the Dean/Rector in conjunction with the Head of School. Referees will usually be internationally distinguished peers.

  4. 4. Human Resources will provide documentation concerning the nominee (see Section 4) to the selected referees and seek their comments on the significance, impact and international standing of the nominee's research.

  5. 5. Nominations need to be submitted to Human Resources by 6 August. Human Resources will write to all referees by 20 August and request return of reports by 29 October. If referees are unable or unwilling to provide reports by the required time, Human Resources will need to ask additional referees to provide reports.

  6. 6. The University Scientia Professor Committee will consider all documentation in respect of each nominee and make recommendations to the Vice-Chancellor.

  7. 7. The University Scientia Professor Committee shall comprise the Vice-Chancellor (chair), the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), the President of the Academic Board and four current serving Scientia Professors nominated by the Vice-Chancellor and drawn from a cross section of disciplines from within the University and with regard to gender balance.

  8. 8. The December meeting of Council will be informed by the Vice-Chancellor of appointments to Scientia Professorships.

4. Nominees Documentation

Nominees should provide the Dean of the Faculty or the Rector of UNSW CANBERRA with the following:

A full curriculum vitae showing academic and professional qualifications as well as appointments, honours, awards, prizes and membership of the learned academies or equivalent organisations. Details of research student supervision, publications, research grants, and work other than publications to be considered as achievement in research should be included and reported according to the norms of the nominee's discipline. The onus is on the nominee to provide concise evidence and data that clearly supports the case being presented. As part of the documentation nominees should complete the Research Activities Form.

A description (no more than four pages) of the nominee's research with particular regard to international impact and standing. Information on individual and collaborative research activities should be included. It is essential that the nominee clearly articulate their own distinct contribution to their respective research field, a unique contribution which has been recognised by international leaders in the field. The emphasis should be placed on impact and quality rather than the quantity or a mere description of research outputs.

A description (in no more than four pages) of the nominee's proposed research project/program for the next five years. This should follow the style of an ARC or NH&MRC research grant application or as expected for the discipline and be in sufficient detail that it can be evaluated by peers in the discipline.

It is also the responsibility of the Dean of the Faculty to provide a nomination letter which briefly outlines the merits of the nomination.

5. Renomination Procedure

A Scientia Professor whose term of appointment is due to expire may be renominated and re appointed for a further term(s).

Prior to the official announcement of a Scientia Professor Round by the Vice-Chancellor, Deans will confer with the current Scientia Professor(s) within their respective Faculty whose terms is due to expire.

For those Scientia Professors who wish to be renominated, the Dean will provide the following documentation
(i) The relevant Deans recommendation on the merits of the case for re - appointment

(ii) A brief overview of the nominees current research program highlighting both achievements and significant changes that have occurred since the period of the previous appointment

(iii) A brief overview of the nominees future research plans for the next five to six years.

In cases where current Scientia Professors have been renominated, the nomination will be considered in the first instance by a sub-committee of the Universitys Scientia Professor Committee namely the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic), the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) and the President of the Academic Board.

The sub-committee will then provide a recommendation to the Vice-Chancellor as to whether the nominee should be re- appointed as a Scientia Professor for a further term or whether the nominees application needs to be assessed by the Universitys Scientia Professor Committee.

A member of academic staff may be renominated following an unsuccessful nomination.


(Note: Where a decision not to consider nominations for Scientia Professors is taken in any year, the next year in which nominations are allowed will be considered to be the 'following' round for the purposes of renomination.)

6. Appeals

The final decision on whether or not an appointment as Scientia Professor is to be recommended to Council is made by the Scientia Professorship Committee on the evidence presented. This decision must be in accordance with the University's policy on equal employment opportunity and is a qualitative judgment, in the context of the documentation provided, by the duly constituted committee recommending to Council. No provision for an appeal against a decision can be made except in cases where there has been significant breach of fair and proper procedures. Where there are grounds for considering that such a breach has occurred, nominees may appeal directly to the Vice-Chancellor, who will ensure that the matter is fully investigated. Before such an appeal can be made, the unsuccessful nominee must have sought feedback on the reasons for the University's decision from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).

7. Monetary Award Component

The award of a monetary component will be determined by the Scientia Committee and may be up to 30% of base Professorial salary to be used as salary supplementation. The full amount will not normally be paid in cases where the Scientia Professor is already receiving additional remuneration such as, salary supplementation or a Federation Fellowship. This however does not apply to responsibility loadings, for example, a Head of School allowance.
The monetary component of the award will be the responsibility of the respective faculties.
If a Scientia Professor ceases to be an employee of the University during a period of appointment as a Scientia Professor, any monetary component will cease.

For information regarding nomination to Scientia Professor contact David Gleeson, Academic Promotions Manager on ext: 52716.

Click here for full list of current Scientia Professors.