☐ Council            ☐Academic         ☒Management 

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

AMENDMENTS: 18 October 2005, July 2005, January 2021, February 2023, August 2023

REFERENCE AUTHORITY: Provost and Chief Academic Officer




As part of the University’s commitment to providing professional development opportunities for its staff, a Professional Experience Program (PEP) is intended to provide for an agreed period of paid release from normal duties to pursue an approved structured professional development program to the mutual benefit of an academic staff member and the University. This Policy sets out the key criteria and requirements for applying for and undertaking a PEP.

This Policy is to be read in conjunction with the Professional Experience Program Procedure.



This Policy applies to academic staff members of the University employed pursuant to the University of South Australia Enterprise Agreement 2023 when applying for and undertaking an approved Professional Experience Program.



This Policy does not apply to staff members employed pursuant to the Senior Staff Collective Agreement 2006.



Approving Authority means the senior staff member responsible for the academic unit or non-academic unit in which the staff member applying for PEP is substantively employed.

Executive Dean/Director means the Executive Dean of an academic unit or the Executive Director/Director of a non-academic unit.

Enterprise Agreement means the University of South Australia Enterprise Agreement 2023 as amended or replaced from time to time.

PEP means a Professional Experience Program and associated paid release from normal duties as approved.

Report or PEP Outcome Report means the report, which is a requirement of undertaking a PEP, either at its conclusion or during the PEP period, the requirement for which forms part of the compliance with this Policy and the associated Procedure.

Staff member means an individual academic staff member Level A to E employed pursuant to the Enterprise Agreement.


Policy Principles


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

1.1. to undertake research relevant to the strategic research profile of the academic unit and/or the University

1.2. to improve and enhance professional knowledge in the applicant's field of expertise or responsibility relevant to the academic staff member’s position at the University

1.3. to obtain practical experience in the workplace relevant to normal teaching duties and responsibilities to gain academic development by means not normally available whilst at the University and undertaking regular duties 

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

1.5. to meet the specific capability, knowledge and skill needs of the University as outlined in the University’s strategic plan.

2. The granting of a PEP is not automatic, but will be based on:

2.1. the relevance of the proposed development program to the strategic objectives of the University 

2.2. the extent to which the proposed program will enhance the staff member's contribution to a discipline, profession, or our strategic research capacity

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 an academic or non-academic unit 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 approval to contribute at least one further year of service after completing a PEP. 


Eligibility for a Professional Experience Program 

3. A member of the academic staff in the range Levels A - E has the right to apply for the PEP under the conditions in clause 1.

4. With the exception of staff with eligible continuous service from another Australian higher education institution, an academic staff member may apply for the PEP in accordance with clause 6 of this 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 a PEP is three years.

5. The University will recognise prior continuous paid full time service with other Australian higher education institutions as qualifying service when considering applications for the PEP, provided there are not more than 2 (two) months between the cessation of employment with the releasing institution and commencement of employment with the University and the qualifying service was agreed at the time of appointment.

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

6.1 Contract staff must have contracts of sufficient length to enable them to comply with the requirements to return in accordance with clause 10. 

7. Staff members whose positions are externally funded may apply for the PEP in the same way as other eligible staff. If the University judges that the proposed program is appropriate, the applicant or their Executive Dean or Director, may approach the funding body seeking approval for the PEP to be implemented within the funds provided by the external body. 

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


PEP approvals

9. Each academic unit executive team will consider and approve applications, including those from eligible research staff within their scope of responsibility.

9.1.Non-academic units with academic staff will establish an appropriate process for consideration and approval of PEP applications that includes appropriate academic representation to assess PEP applications from within their unit.

9.2. Applications will be invited, assessed and progressed in accordance with the provisions of this policy and the PEP Procedure.


Requirement to return to employment

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

10.1. 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 allowances or other expenses granted in support of the PEP. 

10.2. The University may consider extenuating circumstances in administering (10.1) above. 


Duration of Professional Experience Program 

11. The maximum period of a PEP is normally six months.

12. In cases where a staff member has accumulated six years of service and has identified a program necessitating an extension beyond six months, consideration will be given for a program of up to twelve months provided the academic or non-academic unit can appropriately maintain delivery of the academic program.


Financial Arrangements

13. A staff member will be paid their normal salary for their substantive position whilst on a PEP.

14. A staff member may seek paid employment, scholarships and other earnings whilst on a PEP subject to approval and assessment of any actual, perceived and potential conflicts of interest as required by the Outside Work and Management of Conflict of Interest policies. If earnings are received an audited financial statement will be required on completion of the PEP. 

15. A staff member may retain such earnings provided that:

15.1. the sum earned, less approved expenses, when added to the financial support received for fares and other expenses does not exceed 20% of the individual’s gross annual salary for the period of the PEP.  

15.2. If the sum so calculated exceeds 20% of the individual's gross annual salary for the period of the PEP, the excess shall be paid to the University. 

16. Members of staff who are granted a PEP may be given financial assistance towards expenses as determined by the approving authority. 

16.1.The provision of travel and other related financial support will be dependent on the local unit’s budget and the University’s, and other authorities’ requirements relating to limitations on travel, for example during the Covid-19 Pandemic. A staff member’s application for expenses in relation to a PEP may include a contribution from their existing Professional Development Funds, as approved by their Executive Dean/Director.

16.2. There will be no additional reimbursement for dependents' fares.


Leave Arrangements

17. Other types of leave may be taken in association with a PEP. Any additional leave taken must be planned, declared and approved at the time of applying for a period of leave to undertake a PEP.   

18. Recreation leave accrued while on a PEP is deemed to have been taken during the period of the approved PEP.

19. Personal Leave and Long Service Leave will continue to accrue during the period of a PEP.  


Previous qualifying service

20. The University will recognise prior continuous full-time paid service with other Australian higher education institutions as qualifying service when considering applications for the PEP, provided;

20.1. there are not more than two (2) months between the cessation of employment with the releasing institution and commencement of employment with the University; and

20.2. noting transfer of previous service towards the PEP entitlement must be negotiated at the time of appointment to the University and that application for a PEP may be considered after two years of continuous service in the University.


Professional Experience Program outcome report 

21. A staff member who has returned from a PEP will submit a report detailing the outcomes of their Professional Experience Program to their supervisor within three months of returning to work.

22. 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 clause 21 as agreed with their supervisor.



23. Staff members who are unsuccessful in their application for the PEP may appeal as appropriate through the Staff Appeals Policy or the staff grievances or dispute resolution procedures contained in the Enterprise Agreement.


Variations to a PEP 

24. An academic staff member who, prior to or during the period of the approved PEP, becomes unable or unwilling to proceed with the program as approved must inform their supervisor as soon as possible to ensure the approving authority is informed. The supervisor will advise the Executive Dean and/or Director as appropriate.


Breaches of Requirements 

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

26. Where a staff member fails to submit a PEP report, as defined in clauses 21 and 22, within twelve months of returning from a PEP, or fails to complete a period of service as required by clause 10, all funds granted to the staff member for travel and subsistence shall be refunded by the staff member 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.

27. The University may consider extenuating circumstances in administering clauses 25 and 26 above.


Workers' Compensation 

28. Staff applying for the PEP should make themselves aware of the legal implications concerning workers' compensation. During their absence from the University whilst undertaking an approved PEP, staff are covered by the University’s workers compensation arrangements.



Associated Documentation


Officer Responsible: Provost and Chief Academic Officer

Approving Authority: Vice Chancellor

Commencement Date: 5 February 2021

Review Date: 1 February 2025

History: This Policy supersedes and replaces PEP Policy HR 9.2


End Date

This Policy has an end date of 1 February 2026 unless otherwise revoked and replaced.