Ask the panel

August 31, 2007

Worried about your employment, maternity, pension rights? Send your questions to The Times Higher advice panel.

'I am trying to recruit for a senior research position. We have a number of candidates from other countries, and I am concerned that we could stray from the correct procedures when dealing with their applications. Is there anything particular we need to do?'

A spokesperson for the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association says: "All candidates, regardless of nationality, should be processed in line with your institution's recruitment and selection procedures and in accordance with UK employment legislation. Applications should be assessed according to your institution's selection criteria and personnel specifications.

"The primary consideration when assessing applications from non-UK nationals is whether applicants require a visa. If the candidate is not a European Economic Area resident, it is likely that they will need to apply for a visa to enter the country. The interview timetable should be arranged with this in mind.

"If the successful candidate is a Swiss national or a national of a country in the EEA other than Bulgaria or Romania, permission to work in the UK is not needed. All other candidates may require a work permit to work in the UK.

"As a general rule, all academic and research positions are eligible for a work permit, the Home Office will want to be assured that no UK/EEA resident was suitable for the post.

"Proof of qualifications, visas and work permits should be sought before full employment commences.

"More information on visas and work permits can be found at http:/// www.homeoffice. gov.uk/passports-and-immigration/ visas/"

Gillian Evans, project leader of Improving Dispute Resolution ( www.staffs.ac.uk/idr ), says: "It would be wise to send each candidate a clear statement of the procedures you will follow and make sure they understand that the appointment is to be made under English law (or the law of that part of the UK where your university is located). Include an explanation of the confidentiality rules that your institution applies to references.

"Your main difficulty is likely to be behaving consistently about interviewing. You should be able to show that you have not allowed the shortlisting to be affected by the expense of bringing in candidates from overseas and that you make reasonable arrangements to ensure that those who have travelled a long way have time to rest before facing the panel.

"In deciding who is to conduct the selection and the interviews, you should give some thought to ensuring that you have done what you can to avoid bias against any ethnic group."

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