Policy

Study Assistance Scheme for Professional Staff - Policy

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1. Purpose and Objectives

The University employs a variety of strategies to create an organisational climate which will attract and retain staff of the highest calibre and optimise their opportunity to contribute to the achievement of the University's mission and goals.

The University encourages all staff to continue their professional and personal development and this policy sets out the assistance available to professional staff to improve their education and training and the conditions under which financial and other assistance may be granted.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Authorised Officer – the officer authorised to exercise the relevant HR power or function in accordance with the HR Authorisation Schedule

VET – Vocational Education and Training

3. Policy Scope/Coverage

Professional staff who undertake formal tertiary study at a university or registered VET provider, especially graduate study, are eligible to apply for study assistance under this policy.

4. Policy Statement

The University has a long history of supporting staff who are undertaking formal study and in providing a broad range of staff development programs designed to enhance personal and organisational effectiveness. In addition to the time required for study, the student contribution amount and tuition fees can place financial burdens on staff and can act as a disincentive to study, resulting in requests for financial assistance to cover these charges.

5. Criteria for Determining Level of Study Assistance

The Authorised Officer approves the level of study assistance to be granted subject to an assessment of the following:

  • the relevance of the proposed course of study firstly to the current position and duties of the staff member, secondly to the work of the organisational unit and/or the University and thirdly to the career development of the member of staff;
  • the staff member's contribution to the organisation; and
  • their record of success in previous courses undertaken.
     

6. Assistance Available

6.1 Staff enrolled in courses directly relevant to their current position and duties

Assistance available to staff undertaking an approved program of study will take the form of a "package" comprising  financial support and/or leave, dependent on the level of the study, its relevance to the University and the organisational unit, and the current duties undertaken by the staff member. The Authorised Officer will determine the level of benefits to be granted in accordance with the criteria set out in this policy and the PPL 5.80.07b Study Assistance Scheme for Professional Staff procedures.

6.2 Staff enrolled in degree courses not directly relevant to their current position and duties

Staff enrolled in courses which are being undertaken principally for career development or personal purposes, but are not directly relevant to the staff member's current position and duties, or are not considered to be of benefit to the University or organisational unit, are expected to undertake their studies primarily out of normal working hours. Where classes or exams are not available outside working hours, time off to attend classes or exams can be granted on the same basis as set out in the procedure. Financial support for such staff can be approved at the discretion of the Authorised Officer.

Custodians
Director, Human Resources
Mr Bill Kernahan (Acting)

Procedures

Study Assistance Scheme for Professional Staff - Procedures

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1. Purpose and Objectives

This procedure enacts the Study Assistance Scheme for Professional Staff policy and sets out the method for determining and claiming the assistance available to staff undertaking formal tertiary education.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Enterprise Agreement – The University of Queensland Enterprise Agreement 2014 - 2017

FBT- Fringe Benefit Tax payable by the University as a result of provision of fringe benefits to staff members or to associates of staff members

FEE-HELP - A loan for eligible domestic fee paying students. These places are not subsidised by the Government and tuition fees are set by the approved providers

Head – Head of organisational unit

HECS-HELP - loan (or discount for up-front payments) for eligible Commonwealth supported students studying at public universities (and some approved private tertiary education providers)

TOIL – Time Off in Lieu

Tuition Fees - Course fees

VBT – Voluntary Banked Time

VET – Vocational Education and Training

3. Procedures Scope/Coverage

Professional staff who undertake formal tertiary study at a university or registered VET provider, especially graduate study, are eligible to apply for study assistance under the PPL 5.80.07a Study Assistance Scheme for Professional Staff - Policy.

4. Procedures Statement

A professional staff member wishing to undertake study and claim study assistance must apply to the Head each semester for approval of the proposed course of study prior to first enrolment. To apply, the professional staff member must complete a Study Assistance Form for Professional Staff.

The criteria for determining the level of study assistance granted by the Head are set out in the policy PPL 5.80.07a. The Head may approve financial assistance and/or absence of the staff member with the following options in sections 5 and 6.

5. Assistance with Time Off for Study

5.1 Attending classes

Staff can be granted up to three hours per week as time to attend classes in which they are enrolled. Staff are not required to make up this time but must record it on their timesheet as time worked (if required to keep a timesheet).

Staff can be granted up to an additional three hours per week time off to attend classes in which they are enrolled, however this additional time must be made up within a timeframe approved by the supervisor or Head and is not recorded on their timesheet as time worked.

To further accommodate their study, staff can use flexible working arrangements available to them under the Enterprise Agreement and the Flexible Working Arrangements Policy.

5.2 Studying for examinations

Staff can apply for paid Leave to Study for an Examination. Heads approve Leave to Study for an Examination at the rate of four hours leave for each two units or equivalent course in which the staff member is enrolled. The leave must be taken at a time convenient to the work of the organisational unit, and is only granted for study prior to final examinations.

5.3 Attending examinations

Staff can apply for paid Leave to Attend an Examination.  Heads approve Leave to Attend an Examination when the examination is held during scheduled hours of duty. This leave is available for the staff member to attend any compulsory test or examination for a course in which the staff member is enrolled.

5.4 Attending compulsory residential schools

There is no study assistance leave available for staff to attend compulsory residential schools. To accommodate absences while attending a compulsory residential school, staff can apply for other types of leave, paid or unpaid, to which they have an entitlement. Approval of this leave is subject to the provisions for the leave type under the Enterprise Agreement and the relevant leave policy and procedures.

5.5 Studying by external or flexible delivery mode

Staff studying by external or other flexible delivery mode can negotiate with the Head for time off with pay subject to the limits of entitlements in 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 above.

5.6 Use of other leave types to supplement study assistance options

Staff can apply for Recreation Leave, Flexi-time, VBT, Leave Without Pay, or use TOIL in addition to leave options available under sections 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 above. The Authorised Officer approves Recreation Leave, Flexi-time, VBT, Leave Without Pay and/or TOIL subject to the staff member’s accrued balances, eligibility to the leave and the needs of the workplace at the time of the leave taking, and in accordance with the provisions for the leave type under the Enterprise Agreement and the Leave Entitlements Policy and relevant procedures (see PPL 5.60 Leave).

6. Financial Assistance

6.1 Reimbursements of HECS-HELP or tuition fees

This process is applicable if a staff member is seeking reimbursement of tuition fees where the Head has authorised the reimbursement of all or part of the fees in the Study Assistance Form for Professional Staff.

Each semester, upon successful completion of enrolled courses and when tuition fees have been paid up-front by the staff member, they may apply for Study Assistance reimbursement.

This reimbursement of tuition fees and any applicable FBT costs will be made from organisational unit funds.

Staff holding contracts of employment specifically requiring the staff member to enrol in and complete a particular course of study are eligible to claim a HECS-HELP exemption scholarship if enrolled at The University of Queensland.

In all other cases, upon successful completion of enrolled courses in each semester, if the Head considers that a particular course of study is directly relevant to the current position and duties of the staff member and of benefit to the University or organisational unit, the Head can approve the reimbursement of HECS-HELP costs/postgraduate tuition fees (or other tuition fees generally up to the equivalent of HECS-HELP costs), or a proportion of the HECS-HELP costs or postgraduate tuition fees which have been paid up-front by the staff member. This reimbursement will be made from organisational unit funds. No reimbursements will be made for deferred HECS-HELP or other deferred payment arrangements.

Reimbursement of HECS-HELP costs and tuition fees made under this procedure can be made regardless of the University or VET provider at which study is undertaken, subject to prior approval of the proposed study program by the Head. It would normally be expected that 100% reimbursement would be made for studies which are directly relevant to the University or organisational unit. However, the Head can approve financial assistance less than the maximum, for example, the organisational unit and staff member can each be responsible for a proportion, e.g. 50/50, of the tuition costs.

6.2 Reimbursements of HECS-HELP, tuition fees and FBT

HELP (HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP) loan repayments paid or reimbursed by the University for employees are fully subject to FBT regardless of whether the course is work-related. Any HELP (HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP) loan repayments made by the employee are not tax deductible (i.e. the “otherwise deductible rule” does not apply).

The reimbursement of Tuition Fees will not be subject to FBT provided the following conditions are met:

  • The staff member would have been entitled to a tax deduction on their personal income return if the University had not reimbursed the fees and the staff member had paid the tuition fees themselves (known as the ‘otherwise deductible rule’);
  • The staff member completes the “Claimant’s Expense Payment Benefit Declaration” section that is contained within the Staff Domestic Expense Reimbursement Form when they seek reimbursement.

The organisational unit is responsible for collecting the appropriate supporting documentation and in assessing and recording the correct FBT liability when approving the financial assistance and the reimbursement.

The staff member is required to consider whether the ‘otherwise deductible rule’ applies when submitting the Study Assistance Form for Professional Staff. The staff member would generally be entitled to a tax deduction if there is a direct connection between their studies and their work activities at the time the tuition fees were incurred. However, staff members should check their personal tax advisors or the Australian Taxation Office if they have any questions or concerns.

Reimbursement of HECS-HELP and Tuition Fees that are subject to FBT will be reported on the staff member’s PAYG Payment Summary according to the reportable fringe benefit requirements outlined in PPL 9.65.02 FBT.

7. Applying for and Claiming Support

7.1 Application for study assistance

Each semester the staff member seeking study assistance must complete a Study Assistance Form for Professional Staff. The form requires the staff member to provide evidence to the Head of their enrolment, their preferred study assistance options, and any other information required by the Head to assess the staff member’s claim for assistance.

Continued support is conditional upon successful completion of enrolled courses in each semester of the program of study.

Once approved by the Head, details of the approved study assistance program must be recorded on the staff file and absences must be recorded on the staff member’s timesheet (if required to keep a timesheet). Heads are to inform the staff member’s supervisor of the details of the assistance package the Head has approved.

7.2 Claiming approved financial support

Following successful completion of enrolled courses for the semester, a staff member enrolled in an approved program can claim financial assistance as previously approved by the Head.

In the event that the staff member commences a new position with a different organisational unit, it is their responsibility to gain approval from the new Head by completing another Study Assistance Form for Professional Staff. The staff member should discuss this with the new Head prior to commencing in the new position.

The University provides financial and other forms of study assistance in order to enhance a staff member's contribution to the work of this University. In the event of a staff member resigning or an appointment terminating prior to the end of the semester in which financial support has been approved in principle, no reimbursement will be made.

The staff member must complete and submit the following to their Organisational Unit Finance Officer for processing and approval before the reimbursement will be made:

  1. Staff Domestic Expense Reimbursement Form including signing the Claimant's Expense Payment Benefit Declaration section and including the appropriate account code (see below)
  2. Tax invoice from the educational institution
    1. Receipt of proof of payment to the educational institution
    2. Proof of successful completion of enrolled subjects
    3. Copy of approved Study Assistance Form for Professional Staff

Account Code

Description

Information

650230

Self Education & HECS Reimbursement – FBT

Reimbursement of self-education expense associated with studies undertaken by UQ staff that is subject to FBT, including reimbursement for HECS / HELP loan repayment

650240

Self Education Expense Reimbursements – non FBT

Reimbursement of self-education expenses associated with studies undertaken by UQ staff that is not subject to FBT, excludes reimbursement for HECS / HELP loan repayments because the otherwise deductible rule applies as per UQ FBT Guide

 

Information for claiming approved financial support is contained in PPL 9.45.03 Reimbursements.

7.3 Applying for and recording leave

Staff must submit applications for leave to their supervisor through MyAurion.

Custodians
Director, Human Resources
Mr Bill Kernahan (Acting)

Forms

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Study Assistance for Professional Staff - Form

Study Assistance for Professional Staff - Form

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Description: 

This form is used for professional staff who require financial assistance or time off to attend post-secondary courses. 

Custodians
Director, Human Resources
Mr Bill Kernahan (Acting)
Custodians
Director, Human Resources
Mr Bill Kernahan (Acting)
Custodians
Director, Human Resources
Mr Bill Kernahan (Acting)