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I recently accepted academic offer from a UK university. I comminicated wtih the head of school via phone and email, and I have not yet received the official offer letter. I am wondering how secure this situation is? In particular if this is a good time to decline other offers (I feel bad to let them wait too long and decline their offer eventually)? Or should I wait until receiving the official offer? Thank you for your input in advance.

I saw a similar question, but that is for postdoc positions and I suppose it is not exactly the same.

  • You should not decline other offers, and you could mention to them that you are studying several job proposals – Basile Starynkevitch Nov 30 '17 at 6:14
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An email offering you the job is not a 'verbal' offer, and although it's not as binding as a contract, I would certainly consider it secure, particularly from the head of school.

Note that the contract may come via snail mail and if you're on a different continent that could take a while. Perhaps you could try to get a confirmation from HR that the contract has been sent.

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While a verbal offer should end in a contract (and can sometimes be taken as a contract - you may not even need a written contract in order to be employed), there are always things that can happen in between. Therefore it would be safer to wait before you decline other offers, but of course it would be nice from the university to send you the contract quickly, so you know what is going to happen (and so do the other institutes waiting for your decision).

On the other hand, I once started in a position and only received the contract a few days later since the administration was on holiday...

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This is not an uncommon situation. The best thing to do is to ask the head of school how long until the formal contract is issued because you would like to alert the other universities you have applied. If they say a week, just wait. If they tell you HR is a pain and you will have the formal contract sometime in your first couple of years, hopefully they will volunteer that they have never had a problem. If not ask if it has ever been a problem. If they tell you 6 weeks, then it is up to you. Some people will wait, others will withdraw their applications immediately.

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