Special Studies Program Policy
|Date Approved||23 April 2007|
|Date Last Amended||28 August 2013|
i. The Special Studies Program Policy supports the commitment of the University’s Strategic Plan to provide opportunities for academic staff to participate in development activities.
ii. The Special Studies Program Policy applies to academic staff seeking to undertake a program of study consistent with their role and responsibilities at the University.
ii. This policy must be read in conjunction with the Special Studies Program Procedure.
2. Policy Intent
This policy and associated procedures outline the provisions for academic staff to undertake a structured special studies program.
In the context of this policy:
"Special Studies Program (SSP)" means a period of release from normal duties to allow eligible academic staff to undertake a planned program of scholarly teaching, and/or research, and/or leadership related activity and development.
4.1. Special Studies Program
i. The University may offer eligible academic staff the opportunity to undertake a Special Studies Program (SSP).
ii. Special Studies Programs will involve the staff member in one or more of the following activities:
a) individual or collaborative scholarship;
b) maintaining/achieving currency in their academic discipline/profession;
c) establishing links with other institutions and organisations through consultation and joint projects;
d) undertaking a major scholarly activity, such as, writing for publication, developing and producing creative works, preparing for an exhibition;
e) investigating and developing new ways to enhance teaching and student learning;
f) advancement of a higher degree; and
g) acquiring new skills and knowledge applicable to their teaching, research, and leadership roles.
iii. SSP is a benefit that may be offered to eligible academic staff when circumstances allow. It is not an entitlement.
i. Generally, SSP will be for a minimum of two months and for a maximum of six months.
ii. In exceptional circumstances, periods of SSP greater than six but less than twelve months may be considered. Such applications must be discussed with the relevant Pro Vice-Chancellor and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) prior to submission.
iii. Generally, the SSP period will not cross semesters/trimesters and will not prevent the staff member from undertaking the full range of teaching, research and administrative duties in the semester/trimester immediately preceding or following the semester/trimester in which the SSP has been taken.
iv. Applications from eligible academic staff will be called twice a year and will be assessed by the relevant Faculty SSP Committee chaired by the Pro Vice-Chancellor.
Normally, the location of the SSP will be outside the University of Newcastle; in exceptional circumstances, some or all of the SSP may be taken at the University of Newcastle.
i. All full-time or part-time academic staff with continuing appointments or with fixed-term appointments exceeding three years, will be eligible to apply for SSP.
ii. Staff appointed to senior management positions (eg Head of School, PV-C) will not normally be permitted to be absent on SSP during the period of their appointment. However, in recognition of the need for such a person to regain currency in their academic discipline/profession, an extended period of SSP may be granted following such appointments.
iii. Part-time staff will become eligible to apply for SSP following three calendar years of academic service.
iv. Full-time or part-time academic staff with continuing appointments or fixed term contracts will have completed probation before commencing SSP.
v. Full-time or part-time academic staff with consecutive fixed term appointments of three years or less will become eligible to apply for SSP when they have completed three years continuous service and are reappointed to an academic position without a break in service at this University.
vi. Eligibility for SSP will accrue for full-time staff, at the rate of six months for three years of academic service.
vii. Eligibility for SSP will accrue for part-time staff on a pro-rata basis.
viii. Under special circumstances and with the approval of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), SSP eligibility can accrue up to a maximum of twelve months for six years service.
ix. SSP eligibility does not accrue during a period of absence on either SSP or Leave Without Pay.
x. Where a staff member has held an appointment in another Australian higher education institution, or a comparable international institution, immediately prior to taking up appointment at the University of Newcastle , some credit for eligibility may be granted subject to the following provisions:
a) no more than two months has elapsed between the cessation of employment with the releasing institution and commencement of work at this University;
b) the category of previous employment was one for which the staff member would be eligible for SSP at this University;
c) the staff member has completed their probation and served continuously for a period of three years at this University; and
d) the maximum SSP eligibility awarded in recognition of eligible prior service is six months.
xi. Generally, staff will serve continuously for at least three years after a period of SSP is taken before becoming eligible to apply for a further period.
xii. When a period of SSP has been taken, eligibility for future SSP will begin to accrue from the date on which the staff member returns to normal duties.
4.5. Reporting on completion of SSP
An application for SSP will not be considered if the report from a previous SSP has not been submitted, or if the report from a previous SSP has been deemed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) to be unsatisfactory.
4.6. Outside Earnings and Intellectual Property
i. The University policy on Outside Work and its policy on Intellectual Property apply to any outside work undertaken while on SSP.
ii. Staff may not undertake teaching at the University of Newcastle , or via any controlled entities of the University, while on SSP.
iii. Teaching carried out at other institutions must be consistent with the SSP work approved by the relevant Pro Vice-Chancellor.
4.7. Period of Duty to be Served After Return From SSP
i. SSP is approved on the condition that the staff member undertakes to resume normal duties in the University on completion of the SSP, for a period equal at least to the period of the SSP.
ii. Staff who do not return to duty at the University following SSP, or who leave before fulfilling the equal period of return requirement, will normally be required to repay any SSP Professional Development Allowance paid by the University. In exceptional circumstances, this requirement may be varied by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).
4.8. The Application Process
Applications for a Special Studies Program will follow the process outlined in the University’s Special Studies Program Procedure.
4.9. Late Applications
Applicants are responsible for ensuring that their application is submitted by the nominated closing date.
Applicants will have the right to appeal against the decision in relation to their application on the grounds that the procedure outlined in the Special Studies Program Procedure was not followed (refer Section 9 Appeals – Special Studies Program Procedure).
5. Essential Supporting Documents
6. Related Documents
The University of Newcastle acknowledges the assistance provided by other universities, in particular the University of Sydney , in the preparation of this policy.
|Date Approved||23 April 2007|
|Date Last Amended||28 August 2013|
|Date for Review||28 August 2016|
|Policy Sponsor||Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)|
|Policy Owner||Director, Human Resource Services|
|Policy Contact||Human Resources Special Studies Program Officer|
Amendment to Clause 4.7.ii. to reflect fringe benefit tax legislative changes, approved DVC(A) 28 August 2013.
Minor amendment - Change of Policy Sponsor to Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) to reflect structural changes from 1 January 2013, The Secretariat, 20 June 2013.
Updated: Vice-Chancellor, 28 August 2007