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Recruitment and selection policy

1.0 Introduction

The College aims to recruit the best person for each vacancy through fair, systematic, effective recruitment and selection procedures. This will ensure that the College continues to deliver a high-quality learning experience to all students, maintains its world-class reputation as a research and teaching institution and continues to attract high-calibre professional and support staff.

The College values diversity and is committed to eliminating unlawful and unfair discrimination. Appointment will always be on merit, within relevant legislative and statutory obligations. 

The College is committed to delivering the recruitment and selection of staff in a professional, timely and responsive manner. All candidates will be treated fairly, equitably and efficiently, with respect and courtesy, aiming to ensure that the candidate experience is positive, irrespective of the outcome. 

The College will promote best practice recruitment and selection and will continuously review and develop its practices to allow new ideas and approaches to be incorporated.

2.0 Scope

This policy applies to all vacancies and all parts of the recruitment and selection process within the College. It will be made available to all potential applicants and employees.

All employees involved at any stage of the recruitment and selection of staff should be aware of and adhere to the contents of this policy and any related policies and procedures. In addition, any external consultants or recruitment agencies who assist in the recruitment process must act in accordance with this policy. Human Resources are responsible for providing such external parties with this policy prior to their involvement in the recruitment process.

3.0 Purpose

This policy provides a framework for those involved in recruitment and selection. The aim is to recruit the best person for the vacancy by providing a professional and cost-effective recruitment service that is fair and promotes good practice.

4.0 Related policies

Separate policies exist regarding:


When a vacancy arises, it is the responsibility of the Resource Manager to ascertain whether the post is still required and whether the duties are compatible with the College needs for the future. This review may also include consideration of whether the role could be offered on a more flexible working pattern (such as job share, part-time or term-time only working) or on a fixed-term or open-ended basis. Prior to recruitment commencing, the role must be job evaluated (if applicable) and recruitment authorisation of the vacancy must be sought at the relevant level for the identified vacancy.

6.0 Information for candidates

All posts will have a job information pack, produced in a standard electronic format which will normally include a job description and person specification, employment benefits and information about the College.

Right to work in the UK

All candidates are asked to complete a section on their right to work in the UK on the application form and to provide documentary evidence of their status at the interview stage. Any documents provided will then be photocopied. The evidence to be provided depends on the individual's immigration status and may include a passport, a certificate of registration or naturalisation, or a birth certificate when presented with proof of National Insurance number. View our full list of acceptable documents.

Before making an offer, panel chairs should contact their Assistant HR Business Partner who will assist in determining the applicant's status, and if necessary will advise on obtaining the appropriate visa. It is important to note that there are only a limited number of posts for which visas will be issued (i.e. highly skilled and/or ‘shortage’ occupations). It is highly unlikely that any posts other than academic or research posts will be eligible. However, it is vital that any decisions are made in accordance with the College’s Equal Opportunities Policy. Please refer to the Recruitment and Selection Guide for further information, and/or contact your Assistant HR Business Partner.


There are a number of tiers to the points-based system. Below are those which are relevant to employment at Birkbeck. 

Tier 2 - Certificates of sponsorship

Successful job applicants are sponsored by their potential employer who issues a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) which the individual then uses to apply for a visa. CoS are issued for a maximum of five years. 

The CoS is issued based on the job details and applicant’s personal details. HR will apply to the UK Visas and Immigration for a CoS at the point an applicant who requires sponsorship has been offered a job. When applying, we need to demonstrate that the job meets the criteria for sponsorship for various areas such as essential qualifications, minimum salary level and advertising in line with the labour market test requirements. This means that the post must have been advertised in the appropriate media for a minimum of four weeks.   

It can take up to a month for the UKVI to confirm whether a CoS is available. If a CoS is available, it is issued to the applicant within three months of allocation and within 12 months of when the post was first advertised (for Academic and Researcher posts). The applicant must then apply for the appropriate visa. 

The certificate of sponsorship does not guarantee that the applicant will be able to obtain a visa to enter or stay in the UK. The applicant must meet the visa conditions by scoring sufficient points for attributes such as English language skills and meeting the minimum maintenance requirement, currently £945 in available funds for the three months prior to the application.

Named researchers can also be sponsored under Tier 2 but without the need to advertise the post. The individual must meet the UK Visas and Immigration definition of a named researcher as follows: 'an individual who is linked to specific research grants awarded to Higher Education Institutes or Research Institutes by external organisations who are specifically named on the grant because of their knowledge and expertise in the relevant field, if they were unable to come to the UK the research grant would be cancelled.' A copy of the grant papers naming the individual as the named researcher will be kept on the individual’s HR file and may be requested by the UK Visas and Immigration. 

View full details of Tier 2 guidance on the UK Visas and Immigration website.

Settlement/indefinite stay

Settlement rules vary depending on the date the first visa was granted. Those granted a visa before 6 April 2011 may be eligible to apply for settlement after five years, or six years if the first visa was issued after 6 April 2011. In addition, the individual must not have been absent from the UK for longer than 180 days per year for the five- or six-year period.   

If an individual is not eligible for settlement, a further extension to the Tier 2 visa can be issued for individuals who were granted their first visa before 6 April 2011. If the first visa was issued after 6 April 2011, an extension cannot be issued and the individual will need to leave the UK and cannot return on another Tier 2 visa for 12 months. 

View full details on settlement on the UK Visas and Immigration website.

Tier 4 - Student eligibility to work

Individuals with student visas (Tier 4) and who are studying at a Higher Education establishment are able to work in the UK without needing to obtain another visa. Working hours are restricted to 20 hours per week.

Students can apply to switch to a Tier 2 visa in the UK subject to meeting Tier 2 criteria and on condition that the current visa has not expired and that they have either successfully completed and passed a UK recognised bachelor or postgraduate degree or have completed a minimum of 12 months' study in the UK towards a UK PhD.

Tier 1 - Highly skilled migrant and post-study

Job applicants who already have Tier 1 status can be employed by Birkbeck without any further sponsorship or visa requirements.

Tier 1 (Highly Skilled Migrant route) is now closed for new applicants, however individuals who already hold a Tier 1 visa are able to apply for an extension to their existing visa. Tier 1 (Post Study route), which enabled students to work in the UK for two years following completion of their course of study, has also closed, however staff who have a visa through this route can switch into Tier 2 but must apply before their Tier 1 visa expires.

Tier 5 - Government Authorised Exchange

The Tier 5 Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange visa can be used those who want to come to the UK for a short time for work experience or to do training. Requests for this route at Birkbeck usually come from PhD students wishing to spend longer than six months in the UK but who will not be registered students and who usually have a grant/bursary or fellowship to fund their stay in the UK. 

View further details on the Tier 5 route on GOV.UK.

Academic visitors (up to 12 months)

An individual who is on sabbatical leave from an overseas academic institution and who wants to use their leave to carry out research in the UK (for example, to do research for a book) can apply for a visitor visa of up to 12 months. Individuals with academic visitor visas cannot receive payment from Birkbeck during their stay, however reasonable expenses can be reimbursed. Birkbeck will provide the individual with a letter formally outlining the purpose of their visit. View details, including the application process, on GOV.UK.

External examiners/‘one off’ lectures

External examiners and academics undertaking ‘one off’ lectures can apply for a visitor visa which allows them to undertake 'paid engagements' of up to one month. Birkbeck will provide the individual with a letter formally inviting them to be an external examiner or to give the lecture. The application process depends on the nationality of the individual. Details can be found on GOV.UK.


All posts that are for six months or more will be advertised in an agreed appropriate medium for the role. Exceptions may exist when it would be inappropriate to advertise vacancies, for example, when there is a need for redeployment due to a redundancy situation, due to the ending of a fixed-term contract or due to occupational health reasons. Exceptions may also apply in cases where a post is externally funded and an individual is specifically named in the supporting grant/funding agreement.

Managers will give consideration to internal only advertising in the first instance where posts may offer career advancement opportunities or are fixed term and may be appropriate for secondment.

Advertisements will be accurate and comply with the College’s Equality and Diversity Statement.


The method of application will be determined by the type of role and applications are submitted through the online application process - e-recruitment at Birkbeck. Speculative CVs outside of the active recruitment process will not be considered.


The shortlisting process will be based on the requirements of the post as defined in the person specification, assessing candidates against essential and desirable criteria.

The shortlisting will be undertaken by more than one person and normally this will be the interview panel and will be recorded using a standard template. Other methods of shortlisting such as psychometric analysis may be used.  

As part of our commitment to being a Disability Confident Employer, the College guarantees to interview all disabled applicants, provided they meet the essential criteria for the job, subject to any limits on the overall number of interviews. Please see the Staff disability code of practice for further information.


Selection methods may vary depending upon the requirements of a post. Selection may include a panel interview, work simulation such as a written test or spreadsheet, presentation, numerical and verbal reasoning exercises, etc.  

The selection methods used will be appropriate and relate to job requirements and all decisions will be based on objective criteria. Selection panels will reach agreement on the appointment decision by consensus. The chair of the panel will be responsible for the final decision in the event agreement cannot be reached.  

When composing a panel you need to consider the diversity of your panel. You should always seek to have a panel that is diverse in terms of a range of protected characteristics, such as gender, race and age.


Panel chairs may make verbal offers of appointment following reference to HR. Verbal and written offers of appointment will all be made subject to relevant probationary periods and pre-employment checks, including two references, identity, eligibility to work in the UK, qualifications and, where appropriate, health, and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.


Records will be kept on all stages of the recruitment and selection process and retained by the Human Resources team for a period of 12 months and then disposed of securely. Birkbeck will look to retain application details for the purposes of talent pooling and streamlining future applications from the candidate.


Through each stage of this policy, the College will seek to ensure that confidentiality is maintained.


It is the responsibility of any employee involved in a selection process to declare an interest at the early stages of the process if they have a personal or professional connection to any shortlisted candidate. Refer to the Birkbeck policy on addressing conflicts of interest - a code of conduct on relationships at work.

The Human Resources team will be responsible for co-ordinating and providing advice and support on the College’s recruitment and selection process.

College employees who are involved with the recruitment and selection of staff must undergo the appropriate recruitment and selection training. External panel members will be given written guidance on the College Recruitment and Selection policy and procedure. 

Feedback to unsuccessful interviewed candidates will be available on written request to the panel chair.


Particular care will be taken to ensure that this policy is fairly applied and there is no discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnic origin, disability, gender or gender identity, caring responsibilities, sexual orientation, religion or belief, age or any other requirement that cannot be objectively justified.

The College will fulfil its legal duties, ensuring that 'reasonable adjustments', where practicable, are made to ensure that individuals with a disability are not disadvantaged as part of the recruitment and selection process.

Statistical information on all stages of the recruitment exercise will be collated, monitored and reported to inform the College’s performance in the area of equality and diversity.