Professional experience program

POLICY NO: HR - 9.2

DATE OF APPROVAL: 4 May 1992, Minute C-3/92.32

AMMENDMENTS: 18 October 2005
July 2005

REFERENCE AUTHORITY: Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture


Preamble

Professional Experience Program (PEP) is intended to provide for a period of professional development to the mutual benefit of a staff member and the University.

Policy

Criteria

1. For a PEP to be approved, it must meet one or more of the following purposes: 

1.1 to undertake research; 

1.2    to improve and enhance professional knowledge in the applicant's field of expertise or responsibility; 

1.3    to obtain practical experience in the workplace relevant to normal teaching duties and responsibilities; 

1.4    to gain academic development by means not normally available while at the University and undertaking regular duties; 

1.5    to study towards an additional academic qualification relevant to the staff member's role and the University's needs; 

1.6    to meet specific needs of the University in staff expertise as outlined in the University strategic plan. 

Entitlement to Professional Experience Program 

2. A member of the academic staff in the range Levels A - E has the right to apply for PEP under the conditions in paragraph 3. The granting of PEP is not automatic, but will be based on: 

2.1    the relevance of the proposed program to the needs of the University 

2.2    the extent to which the proposed program for PEP may enhance the staff member's contribution to a discipline or profession; 

2.3    the capacity of the staff member to carry out the program and make effective use of the opportunity; 

2.4    the capacity of a School and/or Division to adjust or maintain the regular academic program during the proposed period of absence; 

2.5    the capacity of the staff member at the time of PEP approval to contribute at least one further year of service after completing PEP. 

Eligibility to apply for Professional Experience Program 

3. A staff member may apply for a PEP in accordance with paragraph 6 of the policy commencing after any period of three years continuous service at the University since appointment or completion of a previous PEP. The minimum period of continuous service between PEPs is three years. 

4. Staff on contract and/or fractional-time are considered eligible for PEP if they meet the criteria set out or referred to in this document. 

4.1    Contract staff must have contracts of sufficient length to enable them to comply with the requirements to return in accordance with paragraphs 9 and 9.1. 

5. Externally funded staff may apply for PEP in the same way as other staff. 

5.1    Should the University judge that the proposals submitted form a reasonable and acceptable program for PEP, the staff member concerned or the Head of School may approach the funding body seeking approval for the program to be implemented within the funds provided by the external body. 

5.2    If the funding body is unable to support the PEP, the proposal may be referred to the Division for consideration. 

6. A staff member will not normally be granted PEP which in total accumulates to more than one year in each seven year period from the commencement of eligible service with the University. If Professional Practice Leave has been taken then the total of combined PEP and Professional Practice Leave must not exceed one and a half years in each seven year period of eligible service. 

7. Periods of special leave without pay in excess of three months will not normally count towards the required period of service for eligibility to apply for PEP. 

PEP Committee 

8. The Divisional committee will establish a PEP committee to provide recommendations for the consideration of the Divisional Committee. The PEP committee will have a minimum membership of the Divisional Pro Vice Chancellor and two elected academic staff. 

Requirement to Return 

9. After returning from PEP a staff member will be expected to remain in the employment of the University for a further period of one year. 

9.1    If a staff member does not remain in the service of the University for this period, he/she will be required to refund to the University of South Australia all monies received from the University in the form of travel allowance or other expenses granted in support of the PEP. 

9.2    the University may take into account extenuating circumstances in administering (9.1) above. 

Duration of Professional Experience Program 

10. The maximum period of a PEP is normally six months and generally will not embrace more than one teaching semester. 

11. In cases where a staff member has accumulated six years of service and has identified a program necessitating an extension beyond six months maximum, consideration shall be given for a program of up to twelve months provided the School(s) concerned can maintain the academic program. 

12. If University requirements or personal circumstances cause a staff member to take less than that applied for, carry-over of entitlement may be approved in writing. However, the maximum period which may be granted will normally be six months. 

Entitlements: Salary, Allowances and Grants

13. A staff member will be paid his/her normal salary whilst on PEP.

14. Members of staff who are granted PEP may be given assistance towards fares and other expenses at levels determined by Council from time to time.

15. There will be no additional reimbursement for dependants' fares.

16. Travel allowances will be paid as a reimbursement on presentation of receipts for travel expenses. Funding allocated for "other expenses" will be released at the same time.

17. A staff member may seek paid employment, scholarships and other earnings whilst on PEP. Only if earnings are received will an audited financial statement be required (refer to Appendix D, paragraph 16). 

18. A staff member may retain such earnings provided that the sum earned, less approved expenses, when added to the grant received for fares and other expenses does not exceed 20% of gross annual salary for the period of PEP. 

19. If the sum so calculated exceeds 20% of the gross annual salary for the period of PEP the excess shall be paid to the University. 

20. PEP may be taken contiguously with other types of leave. Such other leave must be planned and declared at the time of application for PEP. 

21. It is expected that staff members, whilst on PEP will normally avail themselves of recreation leave. Therefore, recreation leave will not accumulate whilst the staff member is on PEP. If a program spans the Christmas/New Year period it will be assumed that staff have availed themselves of 'grace days' applicable during this period. 

22. Sick Leave and Long Service Leave will accrue during the period of PEP. 

Transfer of PEP Credit 

23. Transfer of previous service towards PEP entitlement must be negotiated at the time of appointment to the University and may be taken into account after two years of continuous service in the University. 

Professional Experience Program Report 

24. A staff member who has returned from PEP shall submit to the Professional Experience Program Committee, through the Head of School, two bound copies of a report in a format, as indicated in Appendix D, within three months of return to work. After approval, one report will be lodged with the Library and one with the Division. 

25. Where the program exceeds six months, the staff member must submit an interim progress report, before the end of the six months in addition to the report under paragraph (24). 

26. A synopsis of the final report, of approximately 500 words and suitable for publication in the "UniNews" must be submitted with the report. 

Appeal 

27. Staff members who are unsuccessful in their application for PEP may appeal through the University Policy on Staff Appeals (HR - 6.0) or the disputes resolution procedures contained in the applicable instrument or the relevant Enterprise Agreement as amended or replaced. 

Variations to Program 

28. A successful applicant who, prior to or during the period of PEP becomes unwilling or unable to proceed with the approved program should inform the appropriate PEP Committee as soon as possible. 

Breaches of Professional Experience Program Conditions 

29. A staff member who has not submitted a report meeting the requirements of Appendix D within three months of returning from Professional Experience Program, will cease to accrue eligibility for future PEP until such time as the required report is submitted. 

30. Where a staff member fails to submit a PEP report, as defined in paragraph (25), within twelve months of returning from a PEP or fails to complete a period of service as required by paragraph (9), all monies granted to the staff member for travel and subsistence shall be refunded to the University. The University shall be entitled to deduct those monies from any amount it would otherwise owe to the staff member (other than from current salary or wages) and/or claim those monies as a debt in court proceedings. 

31. The University may take into account extenuating circumstances in administering (29) and (30) above. 

Workers' Compensation 

32. Staff should make themselves aware of the legal implications concerning workers' compensation.

Appendix A

Timetable 

1. PEP year commences 1st December. 

2. Applications due by 30th April. 

3. Division/School decision by June. 

4. Resubmitted applications due by 30th July. 

5. Final reports to Divisional Executive for information by 30th August. 

6. Financial grant available on production of receipts. 

7. Report due within three months of return to duty.

Appendix B

What the applicant should do:  

1. Make all arrangements for the actual PEP. 

2. Make application for the PEP according to the calendar (Appendix A) on forms available from the Secretary: PEP Committee. 

3. Forward the application to the Head of School for endorsement and comment, and subsequent transmission to the Committee. 

4. On approval of final program, apply to Unit/Divisional/Institute Finance Officer for funds. 

5. Advise the Head of School of intended departure and return dates. 

6. Submit two copies of the report to the Committee, through the Head of School, within three months of return. In addition, a program exceeding six months requires a progress report before the end of the six months. 

7. If granted external assistance towards expenses, the staff member must submit a financial statement to the Committee along with the report. 

8. Acquaint other staff with ideas and information gained. Evidence for this is not normally required by the Committee.

Appendix C 

What the Head of School should do:

1. Counsel staff and co-ordinate PEP within the School. 

2. Provide written comment on the applicant's program and forward the application form promptly to the PEP Committee. 

3. Review the applicant's report and comment on it.

Appendix D

Professional experience program reports 

Purpose of the report 

1. It establishes the extent to which the proposed objectives were accomplished successfully.

2. It can provide information to colleagues for further or future and current research programs and to the University of South Australia Administration. 

3. It meets, at least in part, the need for accountability to the University of South Australia, the public and the Government. 

4. It may influence University policy or indicate factors which should be considered in: 

4.1    projected course work or program schedules; 

4.2    projected expenditure on equipment or capital works; 

4.3    future PEP proposals; 

4.4    research programs. 

5. It may assist other staff members in the planning of their programs. 

Format of report 

6. The report should be bound in a standard format with covers which will be supplied by the Secretary: PEP Committee on request. 

7. The format of the report will depend upon the program undertaken. However, the following headings serve as a general guide to staff members preparing reports: 

a. Summary (required in all reports) 
b. Outline of program 
c. Aims and objectives 
d. Main text 
e. Extent to which objectives were achieved 
f. Benefits arising from the program 
g. Commentary 
h. Recommendations 
i. Follow-up activity proposed by staff member 
j. Itinerary.

8. Generally the report should be concise, although there will be instances where the PEP will be so unusual, in so far as location or type is concerned, as to justify a larger commentary section or the incorporation of supplementary material. The last comment also applies to particular programs such as a program-based program. Staff are reminded that PEP reports become defacto public documents. 

Reports on specific types of program 

Program based 

9. If a thesis, report or other manuscript formed part of the program requirements, appropriate copies should be lodged with the report but may be catalogued and stored separately by the Library. 

Inspection programs 

10. These reports may be in simple chronological form but are more valuable when the main features observed or conclusions reached by the staff member are presented in a full and coherent form. In particular, emphasis should be placed on items 7(d) and 7(f) - (i) to ensure that the School and colleagues can benefit from the member's experiences. In the main, it would be assumed that prospectuses etc listed in the report are retained by the staff member concerned. 

Industry based 

11. Industry is intended here to embrace commercial establishments, legal offices, statutory authorities etc. 

12. If approved by the host institution, copies of reports prepared by the member should be lodged with the report. If such approval is not given, a certificate to that effect from the host organisation should be included in the report. 

Research based 

13. A copy of any publications arising from the program should be lodged as a supplementary report, when they become available. 

Preparation of Books etc 

14. A copy of the book etc (when it becomes available) should be lodged with the PEP Committee and placed subsequently in the University Library. 

Submission of reports 

15. Two copies of the report, each including a one page summary, are to be forwarded to the Secretary: PEP Committee. The report should be forwarded through the Head of School. One copy is for the Library collection and one copy for retention in the Division. 

Financial statement 

16. Where the staff member has received external payment, a statement is to be given to the PEP Committee Secretary, who will forward it to the Director: Finance. 

Guidelines to assist professional experience program committees

The following factors have been developed to assist PEP Committees in the clarification and interpretation of the criteria outlined in Clause 1 of Policy HR - 9.0 Professional Experience Programs and should be used as a basis upon which decisions are made particularly in those cases where there are competing priorities: 

  • priorities of the School or Unit 
  • priorities of the University as expressed in formal documents such as the University Mission Statement, the University Strategic Plan and the DEET reporting document 
  • extent to which the individual staff member will benefit in terms of professional expertise.