Policy Redesign Project

All policies and procedures are being reviewed as part of this project. This document is pending review, but remains in effect until the review is carried out.

Outside Studies Scheme

Establishment: Council, 27 May 1994 
Last Amended: 7 August 2014 - Enterprise Agreement 2014 to 2017
Nature of Amendment: Update to terminology
Date Last Reviewed:  
Responsible Officer: Director, Human Resources 



C7.1  [Purpose of scheme] In line with its strategic plan, the University is committed to providing staff with opportunities to carry out sustained scholarly activity or gain professional experience outside the University, in order to maintain and enhance the quality of its teaching and research, and the international profile of the University.

C7.2  Eligibility

C7.2.1  All members of the University's academic staff occupying posts with an appointment fraction of 0.4 and above (excluding casual staff) are eligible to accrue qualifying service for an Outside Studies Program (OSP), provided that:

C7.2.1.1  staff on probationary periods (including those occupying convertible appointments) will not normally be eligible to take an initial program until their appointments have been confirmed on a continuing basis;

C7.2.1.2  staff on fixed-term contracts must normally serve three (3) continuous years with the University before being eligible to take an initial program;

C7.2.1.3 notwithstanding C7.2.1.1 and C7.2.1.2, a staff member must also have an appointment of sufficient length to allow her/him to return to the University for a period equal to twice the length of the approved program or a period of six (6) months, whichever is the lesser;

C7.2.1.4  an OSP will not normally be granted to a staff member in the year in which s/he is due to retire, or for the period between notice of resignation being given and the effective date of resignation, unless the requirements of C7.2.1.3 can be met and substantial benefits to the Faculty/Portfolio/University can be demonstrated.

C7.2.1.5 Research-only staff are not eligible for OSP under this clause.

C7.2.2 Although a staff member may be eligible to apply to undertake an OSP, no applicant has a right to take a program, and the University has no obligation to grant the application.  

C7.3  [Basis of approval] The essential, but not exclusive, conditions for approval of a program are that it will bring significant benefits to the Faculty/Portfolio/University, and that appropriate arrangements have been made to maintain teaching, examining and administrative responsibilities.

C7.4  [Transferability of Service] Prior continuous paid service with other Australian higher education institutions will continue to be recognised as qualifying service for the purposes of the University’s Outside Studies Scheme, in accordance with the rules of that Scheme.

C7.5  [All other matters] relating to OSP will be as set out in the applicable University policies as they exist from time to time. 

1.  General Principles

1.1  The Outside Studies Program (OSP) enables staff to carry out a range of activities consistent with the strategic objectives of the School and/or the University during a period of paid release from normal academic responsibilities, including one or more of the following:

  • undertaking research
  • gaining experience to improve and enhance professional knowledge
  • developing links with external organisations, eg industry
  • developing teaching or curriculum materials
  • undertaking studies for the completion of a higher degree

1.2  The ultimate authority for the administration of the Outside Studies Program lies with the Executive Dean/Portfolio Head, who may delegate authority for aspects of the program to a committee, or other staff member(s).

1.3  The University's Academic Performance Review Scheme should be used as a basis for the staff member and supervisor (normally the Dean of School) to identify the potential use of OSP to achieve desired goals.

1.4  Although a staff member may be eligible to apply to undertake an OSP, no applicant has a right to take a program, and the University has no obligation to grant the application.

1.5  Staff undertaking approved programs will continue to be covered for workers compensation (work-related illness or injury only).


2.  Responsibilities

2.1  Each Faculty/Portfolio will

2.1.1  determine the process for considering and approving OSP applications;

2.1.2  publicise the relevant timelines (including deadlines for applications) for consideration of OSP applications by the beginning of each teaching year; and

2.1.3  determine and manage the financial assistance available to staff members undertaking programs (refer 7).

For academic staff located in non-Faculty units, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) will undertake the above responsibilities.

2.2  A staff member will

2.2.1  apply for OSP in accordance with the procedures and timelines established by her/his Faculty/School/Portfolio/Division;

2.2.2  obtain prior approval from the Executive Dean/Portfolio Head for any significant change(s) to her/his program;

2.2.3  return to the University following an OSP by the date agreed as part of the approved program and resume all normal duties;

2.2.4  submit a satisfactory report in accordance with OSP Report Guidelines within two months of return from the program to her/his supervisor.

2.3  The applicant's supervisor will:

2.3.1  assess each application in accordance with C7.3 and, where applicable, take into account whether the objectives of previous programs were met, before forwarding to the Executive Dean/Portfolio Head (or approving body);

2.3.2  evaluate each report submitted by the staff member on return from OSP to determine whether the objectives of the program were met, before forwarding it to the Executive Dean/Portfolio Head (or approving body) for noting; and

2.3.3  if the program objectives have not been met, advise the staff member and take action as necessary.

2.4  The Executive Dean/Portfolio Head (or approving body) will

2.4.1  consider applications in accordance with C7.1 and the procedures established under 2.1.1; and

2.4.2  where an application is not approved, provide written reasons for the non-approval to the staff member concerned.

2.5  The Human Resources Division will

2.5.1  determine the eligibility of staff to apply for OSP and maintain an OSP record for each eligible staff member from which qualifying service can be calculated;

2.5.2  facilitate payment of any financial assistance, as appropriate; and

2.5.3  determine the transfer of prior service as qualifying service, if requested (refer clause 5 below).

3.  Qualifying Service

3.1  A staff member's continuous service at the University will determine the period of OSP available to her/him, calculated at the rate of 6 weeks of OSP for each 12 months of continuous service, to a maximum of 80 months' qualifying service (40 weeks of OSP). Employment in the University where breaks in service do not exceed two months is regarded as continuous service. Although not breaking continuity of service, the actual period of any such break in service does not count as service.

3.2  Eligible fractional staff will accrue qualifying service on the same basis as full-time staff.

3.3  Staff will continue to accrue qualifying service during any period of OSP.

3.4  Any periods of unpaid leave will not normally count as qualifying service, except in exceptional circumstances approved by the Faculty/School/Portfolio/Division Head.


4.  Timing and Length of Programs

4.1  Outside Studies Programs are granted on the basis of full weeks.

4.2  Following an initial program, further periods of OSP may be applied for at any interval, provided that the staff member has

4.2.1  met the requirements of C7.2.1;

4.2.2  accumulated the requisite qualifying service;

4.2.3  met the specified objectives of any previous OSP to the satisfaction of the supervisor; and

4.2.4  submitted her/his report from any previous OSP, as required under 2.2.4.


5.  Transferability of Service

5.1  The following provisions apply to the transfer of qualifying service from a prior institution:

5.1.1  the staff member must accrue entitlements by virtue of the prior service to a scheme comparable to that of Flinders University;

5.1.2  any period of outside studies taken at the prior institution is taken into account in determining the amount of entitlement to be transferred;

5.1.3  any entitlement transferred is assessed in terms of the University's formula for determining qualifying service; and

5.1.4  the break in service between institutions does not exceed two months.

The transferability provisions do not apply to staff who are employed on a casual basis or to staff whose salaries are paid from external funds which make no provisions for outside studies programs.

5.2  New staff members seeking transfer of qualifying service must do so, in writing, to the Director, Human Resources (or delegate), within 6 months of commencing employment at the University.


6.  Financial Support

6.1  Eligible staff may apply for financial support in the form of a contribution towards travel expenses. This support is not automatic and will not exceed travel expenses necessarily incurred by the staff member. The following amounts provide a guide for the level of financial support, dependent on location and duration of the program, and may require adjustment where support from external sources is offered.

6.1.1  Programs in Australia (normally outside of South Australia) and New Zealand   up to $2,000

6.1.2  Overseas Programs (outside Australia and New Zealand) where the period of absence from South Australia is:  up to and including 2 weeks: up to $2,000  over 2 weeks and up to and including 6 weeks: up to $2,500  7 weeks and up to and including 12 weeks: up to $3,500  over 12 weeks: up to $4,500

The levels of financial support will be reviewed every 3 years.

6.2  Faculties/Portfolios may increase the above levels of support, but will not approve contributions in excess of actual travel expenses incurred.

6.3  Fractional staff are entitled to the same level of financial support as full-time staff.

6.4  An adjustment may be made to the financial support provided to the staff member if the program is significantly changed.

6.5  A staff member will be required to refund to the University any money received as financial support if s/he does not subsequently meet the requirement to return under C7.2.1.

6.6  A staff member who expects to receive financial assistance from sources outside of the University and/or to undertake additional paid work during OSP must comply with the University's Policy on Outside Professional Activities and disclose the details on her/his OSP application, including, if necessary, verification that it has been formally approved as Outside Professional Activity.


7.  Payment of Salary and Leave Entitlements / Accruals

7.1  A staff member will continue to receive normal salary while absent on a program and all leave entitlements will continue to accrue for the duration of the program.

7.2  A staff member may apply to take a period of long service leave with an OSP.

7.3  The Executive Dean/Portfolio Head may authorise the reinstatement of OSP qualifying service if the staff member is unable to undertake part of her/his program due to illness or unexpected resumption of duty, on production of appropriate supporting documentation.


8.  Non-Approval of Application

Where an OSP application is not approved, the staff member should first discuss the reason(s) for non-approval with her/his supervisor. Where appropriate, the staff member may wish to take the matter up with the Executive Dean/Portfolio Head, with whom the final decision will rest.