English |  Español |  Français |  Italiano |  Português |  Русский |  Shqip

Human Resource Management in Higher Education

Staff Recruitment - policy and practice

Milos Milutinovic and Raihan Mahmood Kadery


Employees represent the most vital part of almost all organizations. Success or failure of an organization highly depends on the quality, skill and effectiveness of its employees. Organizations must, therefore, pay close attention to recruiting the right people and utilizing their capacities. Thus, the recruitment process is crucial for the organization’s success. It is more vital for the universities because the major tasks of the universities, i.e. teaching and research, are mostly conducted by the academics. Universities must have knowledgeable academics to provide quality teaching and apply for ever competitive research grants thereby attracting the best students. Universities also need skilled administrators to ensure better learning environment by well integrating all the available resources. Universities should, therefore, have sound policy for recruiting both academic and non-academic staff. It should be mentioned here that only having good recruitment policy cannot ensure the good recruitment if the policy is not put in a good practice. The practice of recruitment policy differs from university to university based on the geographical, social, economic, and historical context of the university. This paper will concentrate on the practice of recruitment policy in European context. To do so, we will evaluate the practice of recruitment policy at the University of Glasgow, UK and the University of Novi Sad, Serbia. We selected those two universities because they are representative of the recruitment practice at universities in the UK and Serbia respectively. The reason behind choosing the UK and Serbia as the country context of our evaluation is that recruitment practices in those two countries exemplify two different notions of higher education system and recruitment practices in European Higher Education Area. For this reason, we believe that a comparison between those two contexts will help us better understand two different European recruitment perspectives in higher education. The discussion of the mentioned recruitment practices will be followed by a brief discussion about the concept of recruitment in higher education (HE) sector.


Concept of Recruitment in HE

Defining recruitment is not so easy because there is no single definition of recruitment style. Breaugh and Starke (2000) argued that “it is difficult to define the term recruitment and to distinguish what falls within the definition” (p. 431).

Recruitment can be viewed from different perspectives based on the types and contexts of the organizations. Recruitment policies and practices also depend on what type of organization it is and how the organization views the concept of recruitment. In this paper we will only concentrate on the recruitment policies and practices from the universities’ perspectives.

Recruiting staff has become a significant issue in higher education institutions because of the contemporary changes e.g. globalization, massification, mobility in higher education sector. Globalization of higher education is forcing the universities to increase technical and information literacy, make collaboration with other universities and create good branding (Wilen-Daugenti and McKee, 2008). Massification of higher education has caused a boost in the participation rate of school leavers and adult learners in higher education that created challenge for the governments to allocate full public funding for the universities. In this situation, universities now must rely on the industry and public agencies for additional funding. According to Davies (1998), all of those changes and external pressures shifted the universities from ‘teaching organization’ to ‘learning organization’. This new shift made the universities to reform their staffing policies because it is not possible for the universities to become ‘learning organizations’ without strong staff motivation, excitement and commitment (Davies, 1998).

“HR Policy presents specific guidelines to HR managers on various matters concerning employment. It states the intent of the organization about recruitment, selection, training, promotion, compensation and other aspects of human resource management” (Durai, 2010, p. 133). According to Middlewood and Lumby (1999), effective Humane Resource (HR) Policy is the key to the high quality educational experiences as it can improve quality, commitment, and performance of academic and non-academic staff within the universities. They also argued that educational institutions need effective HR policy because it provides a proactive and strategic background that can manage the rapid and complex change within education. However, making effective HR policy is still problematic and challenging in the university perspective because concepts of professionalism, professional autonomy and collegial approaches to decision-making within the universities resist the idea of ‘teachers to be managed as resource’ (Middlewood and Lumby, 1999).

We will now present the practices at two European universities and try to understand how they apply their recruitment policies.


Recruitment Policy and Practice in the University of Glasgow (UK)

University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world which was established in 1451. It is a broad-based and research intensive university with a global reach. This university has more than 23000 undergraduate and postgraduate students from 120 countries worldwide. There are more than 6000 staffs, including 2000 active researchers in University of Glasgow.

Policy of Recruitment

The aim of the University of Glasgow recruitment policy is to provide a well planned and executed recruitment and selection process that is timely and merit based and results in the appointment of high quality academic and non-academic staffs who meet the needs of the strategic direction of the university and is a positive experience for all involved. The major recruitment policies of University of Glasgow are as follows:

  • University of Glasgow believes in Equal Employment Opportunity where all individuals are treated based on their merits and abilities. Throughout the recruitment process, no academic or non-academic staff will be discriminated on any unfair or unlawful grounds i.e. sex, race, disability, marital status, religion and/or belief. Even part-time and fixed-term academic and non-academic staffs should be treated similarly. By doing so, the university wants to ensure that in all cases the best candidate for the position is appointed.
  • All who are involved with the recruitment and selection procedures are expected to ensure that their actions are consistent with the principles of recruitment policies. In order to ensure that all members of each Appointing Committee must have to undertake training in recruitment and selection. In addition, HR Department will be continuously monitoring the transparency and accountability of all the recruitment and selection procedures.

Practices in Recruitment

The recruitment practices of University of Glasgow go through following steps:

  • Planning and preparation: If the university needs to replace a post, a staff request is completed on HR Payroll system by the department that needs to replace the post. In case of the replacement vacancy, university usually inputs the existing job description already held in the system. In some cases, university re-assesses the content of the current job position and modifies something if needed. When the university needs to create a new job position, the relevant department writes the job description and upload the job description in the university’s e-recruitment system once financial clearance has been provided by the finance department. E-recruitment system of University of Glasgow allows all job seekers to look for their desired position and job description.
  • Writing the job description: The content of the job description in University of Glasgow clearly reflects the duties, skills and experience required for the post. Every job description needs the final confirmation by the HR department before being uploaded in the E-recruitment system. A fully detailed and clear submission of a job description, in standard format, usually takes four working days to get the confirmation from HR department. In some cases, HR department asks for further information before giving the final confirmation.
  • Advertising: After getting the confirmation from HR department, job posts are advertised on the University of Glasgow website. However in most Research and Teaching cases, vacancies are advertised globally i.e. in international publications, global websites and job boards like Euraxess portal, in order to ensure get attention of the strongest possible candidates.
  • Forming the appointing committee: Members of the appointing committee are nominated by the Head of School/RI/Service or appropriate recruiting manager. When appointing the committee, careful consideration is given to take account of principles of Equality and Diversity. It is also ensured that at least one member of each sex has been appointed in the committee. Moreover it is mandatory for each member of the committee to take training in Recruitment and Selection.
  • Shortlisting: The Appointing Committee identifies the essential and desirable criteria according to the job description, and compares and assesses evidence in each application form against those criteria. Based on this assessment, the Appointing Committee reaches a shortlist of candidates who are called for final interview.
  • The Interview: Before the interview, each member of the Appointing Committee reviews job description, assesses the application form/CV,  and bears in mind the essential and desirable criteria to decide which areas to explore and in what sequence. The Appointing Committee also ensures that all shortlisted candidates are interviewed on the same day and all candidates have a positive experience from the interview. In most cases of the academic recruitment, candidates need to make presentations during the interview session. Based on the interview and presentation session, interview panel members make separate ratings against the pre-determined essential and desirable criteria from the job description. The HR department takes the final decision about the recruitment based on the ratings of interview panel members.
  • Recommendation and Induction: After making the final selection, the HR department does the pre-employment checks by verifying the qualifications and references of the selected candidate. After that University of Glasgow invites the new employees for induction in order to make them feel welcome in their new environment and to settle quickly into their new roles. During the induction period, the university provides the new employees information about Glasgow, accommodation, bank accounts and more. In addition, new employees are introduced with their colleagues, students, and workplace and job roles during the induction period.


Recruitment policy and practice at the University of Novi Sad (Serbia)

The University of Novi Sad is the second largest university in Serbia with little over 45000 students and about 4900 academic and non-academic staff. According to the date from December 2012 there were around 3600 academic or research staff employed and some 1300 non-academic staff. The University comprises 14 faculties located not only in Novi Sad but also in other cities of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina and its academic offer covers all major scientific fields (humanities, social sciences, technical sciences, natural sciences, and medicine), as well as arts. The University of Novi Sad sees itself as a university of regional importance and strives to improve its position by reaching the top 500 universities on the Shanghai ranking, but on the other hand its recruiting policies and more so practice have not changed much in last 30 years. Therefore – although there is no official statistics – it should not come as a surprise that the number of foreign researchers and academics at the University of Novi Sad is extremely low.

Policy of Recruitment

Under the current Law on Higher Education in Serbia universities are autonomous in the area of employment of academic as well as non-academic staff. The Law only prescribes types of academic ranks, general conditions for employment, and duration of employment for each academic rank, which are (from the lowest to the highest): teaching assistant, teaching fellow, assistant professor, associate professor, and full professor. Employment of non-academic staff is not regulated by Law and is part of the autonomy of the HEI. (Law on HE, 2005) Number of positions paid by the state is regulated by the Ministry bylaw based on inputs. HEI may employ additional staff, which they finance from own sources. (Bylaw, 2002)

Due to the nature of Serbia’s HE system all staff, except the Secretariat of the University are actually employed at the level of the Faculty, which are usually legal entities. Regarding the employment of lower level academic staff (teaching assistant and teaching fellow) and all non-academic staff faculties can employ them following their own procedures. However, the appointment of all professors (from the assistant professor onwards) is done at the university level – by the university Senate – and according to university regulations covering the appointment of university teachers and after fulfilling the minimal conditions for appointment. Those minimal conditions are set by the National Council on Higher Education. (Law on HE, 2005: Article 11) The University has laid down general procedure for appointment (UNS, 2013a), but each faculty, additionally, specifies exact procedures and actions for appointment of all academic staff (professors and teaching assistants) (UNS, 2013c). These variations in regulations have tendency to create issues in quality between different fields and faculties.

Serbian system of employment of academic staff can be viewed variation of the American tenure track where only the full professors are actually ‘tenured’ – employed indefinitely – but the occasions where those on lower levels are either not reappointed or not promoted to higher rank are extremely rare. The Law on Higher Education (2005) and the procedure for appointment of professors, of all ranks, as well as teaching assistants (UNS, 2013a and UNS, 2013c) specify that only full professors are employed indefinitely, while all other academics are employed on 5-year contracts subject to reappointment or promotion to higher rank after the appointment period has ended. In order to be promoted to higher rank candidate needs to fulfil a set of criteria (scientific work, teaching work, mentorships (master and doctoral thesis), and contribution to the academic community (taking part in committees, scientific projects and management). Although in theory this promotes competition, in practice there is very little competition except for the entry positions, and thereafter the road towards achieving the status of full professor is just about straight forward.

Practices in Recruitment

At the University of Novi Sad following procedure is applied (UNS, 2013a and c):

  • Planning and preparation: Dean makes the decision to open a vacancy either on his or her own or following a decision of the department confirmed by the Teaching and Scientific Council of the faculty. By rule this is done at least 6 months prior to end of appointment period. As faculties do not have HR departments it is usually up to legal department to formulise the job description and handle procedures.
  • Advertising: All positions have to be advertised, but usually only in local papers and in the listing of the State Employment Agency; there is little or no actual interest in attracting competition, so therefore they are never advertised on University, faculty or Euraxess website. Indeed the competition is uncommon and appointments are commonly a shoe-in for the already working person. (UNS, 2013b)
  • Forming the Appointing Committee: Faculty Election Council forms an Appointment Committee. Committee is comprised of 3-5 university professors from the same field and institution, and at least one from different institution; all should be of equal or higher rank than the position which is advertised. Majority of members must be from the scientific field for which the position is open. Members of the Committee normally do not have nor does university/faculty offer training in recruitment and selection.
  • Drafting the report: Appointment Committee drafts a report on all candidates who applied for the position and makes recommendation for appointment. There is usually a 60-day deadline to draft the report but no concrete consequences are stipulated in case of delays. No shortlisting or interview process is foreseen and candidate(s) is/are judged based solely on their CVs. All committee reports are published in the University journal which is available online for 1 month and anyone can lodge a complaint in this period, thereby providing transparency of the process. Looking at the official Journal of the University of Novi Sad (2013b) in the period between 1 September and 15 December 2013 there were 251 open positions. Only 27 percent had more than 1 candidate applying and only 10 percent if it was appointment of a professor (assistant, associate or full). In cases where multiple candidates applied it was mostly 2-3 and never above 7. There was not a single case where the candidate who was already working at the faculty was not recommended by the Committee, as the indicators for appointment are set in such a way that discourages and prevents outsiders to stand any realistic chance of being selected. It is also not uncommon that for the position of assistant professor or lower the head of the appointment committee has numerous joint publications with the recommended candidate, and there are no regulations that address this direct conflict of interest. Most outside candidates were coming from industry and would therefore lack the previous teaching experience and/or contribution to the academic community that would disqualify them from being real contenders. It is generally uncommon for Serbian academics to change universities during their careers (except for going abroad), which lowers potential competition.
  • Final selection: The recommendation is then sent to the Faculty Appointment Council, which can adopt the recommendation or oppose it in which case the appointment procedure is re-started. If the recommendation is adopted this is then sent to the University Senate, which makes the final decision after getting the opinion of the appropriate Expert Council for the field the appointment is made.
  • Induction: At the end the candidate signs the work contract with the dean of the faculty. There is no official induction of any kind. Appointed professors do not officially hold first lecture.

When it comes to the recruitment of non-academic staff there are no regulations and procedures except those indicated in general laws. Job vacancies are usually not advertised and appointments are made by the dean directly. In a country that has official unemployment rate of 26%, this non-transparent process represents a major issue for quality and potential for corruption. It also leaves the recruiting policy in hands of few influential people.



The two recruitment practices that were described in this paper are in many ways opposite to each other. In both instances we have observed similar general appointment procedures in case of hiring of academic staff. However, the practices and purpose of the procedure at the University of Glasgow were clearly aimed at improving recruitment, attracting as many applicants as possible, and ensuring the very best are appointed. In contrast, the practices at the University of Novi Sad were clearly aimed at retaining the current staff – indicated by the number of applicants per open position. In addition, the University of Novi Sad, including its faculties, does not have an HR department, which suggests that the recruitment policy and practice is, at the moment, not of high enough importance. At the University of Novi Sad there were no procedures for hiring of non-academic staff to speak of, thus we can only conclude that its use as a political tool takes precedence over the ensuring transparent and fair system, as well as providing quality administration. Comparing these two systems, we must also take into account the language of instruction at both institutions, which, in case of University of Glasgow, clearly contributes to the competitiveness.



Looking at the procedures and practices for recruitment of staff at the University of Glasgow and Novi Sad we concluded that these two institutions represent two poles of the spectrum. One highly transparent and competitive aimed at attracting and selecting only the very best and the other a closed system with very little or no competition from the outside. Following the definition of recruitment by Breaugh et al. (2008), the University of Novi Sad, in policy and practice, does not strive to create a pool of applicants; rather it is aimed at maintaining the status quo and retaining the current staff. On the other hand, the fact that Serbian is not a widely spoken language, poor financial situation, and lack of English-taught programs act as deterrent to competition from abroad. General reluctance of university teachers in Serbia – as well as in former Yugoslavia – to change work, limits the potential pool of suitable candidates. Internationalization can be seen as a way to change and improve the current situation at the University of Novi Sad.



Breaugh, J. A., Macan, T. H. and Grambow, D. M. (2008). Employee recruitment: Current knowledge and directions for future research. In G. P. Hodgkinson and J. K. Ford (Eds.), International review of industrial and organizational psychology (Vol. 23, pp. 45-82). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Breaugh, J. A. and Starke, M. (2000). Research on employee recruitment: So many studies, so many remaining questions. Journal of Management, 26(3), pp. 405-434

Bylaw on norms and working standards on public-financed universities and faculties/ Uredba o normativima i standardima uslova rada univerziteta i fakulteta za delatnosti koje se finansiraju iz budžeta (2002). Službeni glasnik RS, br. 015/2002.

Davies, J. L. (1998) The Shift from Teaching to Learning: Staff Recruitment and Careers Development Policies for the Universities of the Twenty-First century. Higher Education in Europe. 23 (3). P. 307-316

Durai, P. (2010) Human Resource Management. New Delhi: Pearson Education India.

Law on higher education/Zakon o visokom obrazovanju, (2005) Službeni glasnik RS, br. 76/05, 100/07, 97/08, 44/10, 93/12 i 89/2013.

Middlewood, D. and Lumby, J. (1999) Human Resource Management in Schools and Colleges. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

The University of Glasgow (2013). Human Resources: Recruitment and Induction [Online]. Available from: http://www.gla.ac.uk/services/humanresources/recruitment/ [Accessed: 15th December 2013]

The University of Novi Sad (UNS) (2013a). University regulations for appointment [Online] Available from: http://www.uns.ac.rs/sr/statut/pravilnici/davanjeSaglasnosti.pdf [Accessed: 28 December 2013]

The University of Novi Sad (2013b). Official Journal of the University [Online] Available from: http://www.uns.ac.rs/sr/izborZvanje/bilten1448.html [Accessed: 28 December 2013]

The University of Novi Sad (2013c). Faculty of Economics appointment procedures for academic staff [Online] Available from: http://www.ef.uns.ac.rs/pravilnici-uputstva-formulari/pravilnik-o-izboru-nastavnika-i-saradnika-v1.pdf [Accessed: 28 December 2013]

Wilen-Daugenti, T. and McKee, A. (2008). 21st Century Trends for Higher Education. [Online] August 2008. Available from: http://www.cisco.com/web/about/ac79/docs/wp/21st_Century_Top_Trends_POV_0811.pdf [Accessed: 8th February 2014] 


There has been error in communication with Booktype server. Not sure right now where is the problem.

You should refresh this page.