Academic Ranks in Higher Education in Australia

The system of academic titles and ranks in Australia is classified to a common five levels, A-E, although the titles of these levels may differ between institutions. These are:

Level A - Tutor/Associate Lecturer/Research Associate
Level B - Lecturer/Research Fellow
Level C - Senior Lecturer/Senior Research Fellow
Level D - Associate Professor/Reader
Level E - Professor

These levels correspond to salary levels set by the Australian government's Higher education Academic Salaries Award (2002). There has been a significant increase in academics at level D and E (Associate professor and professor) in recent years. The number of academics at these levels increased by 70% from 1996 to 2008.

In order to receive the title of professor, the applicant must pass each university's minimum standards statements and promotion policies, which are derived from the Higher education Academic Salaries award. Three key attributes are examined: recognition, distinction and leadership. Leadership in research is arguably the most important. Some universities also expect leadership in developing the curriculum and in the teaching and management of staff and students.

The difference between professor and associate professor is that there is less of an imperative to demonstrate leadership qualities for the title of associate professor. Still, in order to receive the title, it is required that the applicant has made an 'outstanding contribution' and that the applicant is usually recognised at a national or international level.

In some universities, the title of professor and associate professor can also be conferred with appointment to a senior management position without the need for an extensive academic record or a research higher degree.

Adjunct and conjoint professor are honorary titles bestowed upon a person to formally recognise that person's non-employment 'special relationship' with the university.

Emeritus professor is a title bestowed upon a retired person who has rendered distinguished service to the university. They have nearly always held the title of professor at the university. Half the universities in one study specified that the person needed to have served at least 10 years at the university. Some universities have other titles such as Emeritus Educator and Emeritus Scholar. Once the Emeritus Professor title is bestowed, the title is normally for life, though it can be repealed for failing to abide by university regulations.