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Professional Development Program (PDP) for Academic Staff Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) The University endorses the principle that academic staff should be encouraged to continue their professional growth and development; as such development is an important element in enabling the University to meet its mission and achieve its corporate goals.

(2) It is therefore the policy of the University to make provision for eligible academic staff to undertake a sustained period of academic development, hereafter referred to as a Professional Development Program (PDP). The purpose of such a period is to provide staff with the opportunity to focus on a planned program of academic activity and development. This policy endorses the principle that a staff member's preferences for a Professional Development Program must be balanced against criteria such as University and organisational area goals, the nature of academic disciplines and requirements of the professions.

(3) The purpose of this Professional Development Program policy is to assist individual members of the academic staff to pursue one or more of the following activities:

  1. engage in individual or collaborative research and/or scholarship that will lead to the enhancement of the individual and the University's research profile;
  2. remain up-to-date with significant developments in his/her academic discipline or community and establish strong links with other key universities through consultation and joint work with leaders in the field;
  3. undertake a major scholarly activity, e.g. writing for publication, preparation for an exhibition or performance;
  4. investigate and develop innovative ways to enhance the quality of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and student learning;
  5. acquire new skills and knowledge that can be applied to his/her teaching and research;
  6. work collaboratively with industry for the purpose of developing ongoing partnerships that will benefit the University;
  7. undertake a "postdoctoral" period to complete the writing of articles or other research-related activities;
  8. take up a prestigious fellowship/award (e.g. Australia Council Grant); or
  9. engage in other programs as deemed relevant by the Vice Chancellor, Deputy Vice Chancellors or College Executive Deans.
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Section 2 - Definitions

(4) Nil.

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Section 3 - Policy Statement

Part A - Granting of PDP

(5) A PDP is granted as a privilege and should not be regarded by staff as a right. The granting of PDP is determined by a number of factors including:

  1. the academic benefits of the proposed program to the University and the individual;
  2. financial and resource constraints. The constraints are such that the total number of academic staff in a School/Unit/Centre undertaking a PDP at any one time should not be greater than 7% of the total academic staff establishment for the School/Unit/Centre (i.e. 14% undertaking a 22-week PDP in any one year), provided that the Executive Dean can confirm that the absences can be covered.
  3. a competitive process where each PDP application is assessed on merit, initially against the criteria outlined in this policy; and then on a comparative basis, where there are more applications in the School/Unit/Centre that meet the criteria than the quota described in clause (5) b above. Thus, applicants who meet the criteria are not automatically granted a PDP. In determining the relative merit of an application, consideration will be given to its relevance to the School/Unit, College/Division and University goals, the nature and requirements of academic professions, the personal and professional growth of the applicant and social justice principles that ensure fair treatment and equal opportunity for all staff.

(6) Authority to approve PDP applications rests with the College PDP Committees, taking account of the College resource and financial constraints, as indicated by the Executive Dean.

Part B - Eligibility to Undertake PDP

Tenured Staff

(7) Tenured members of the academic staff of the University will, under normal circumstances, be eligible to apply for PDP if they have completed at least three (3) years of continuous service, excluding those periods of leave without pay which do not count as service, by the commencement date of the proposed period of PDP, provided that tenure has been confirmed. Academic staff members who have previously been granted a period of PDP will not be eligible to undertake a further period of PDP until three (3) years of continuous service has been completed from the date of re-entry on duty following the previous period of PDP or such later time as per clause (40).

Contract Staff

(8) Academic staff members employed on fixed-term contract will, under normal circumstances, be eligible to apply for PDP if they have completed at least three (3) years of continuous service by the commencement date of the proposed period of PDP, provided that:

  1. any probationary requirements have been satisfied;
  2. if the academic staff member is employed on a three (3) year contract, and the application for PDP is successful, a PDP will only be granted should the staff member be successful in gaining appointment to a tenurable position or further long term contract with the University; and
  3. the academic staff member is able to satisfy the requirements of clause (37)iii below within the period of the contract.

Prior Service

(9) Recognition of prior continuous service as an academic staff member at another Australian university will be at the discretion of the Director Human Resources. The following conditions also apply:

  1. a period of not more than four (4) months has elapsed between the cessation of employment with the previous employer and the commencement of employment with the University;
  2. proof of the prior service, and the date of any PDP taken during that period of service is provided by the previous employer; and
  3. the academic staff member has completed any probationary requirements prior to the commencement of PDP, or negotiated prior to the date of entry on duty with the University approval to apply for PDP before completion of probationary requirements.

Performance Management Requirements

(10) Before an application for PDP can be accepted, the academic staff member applying for PDP must have a current, signed workload agreement and have participated in the Performance Planning and Review process.

Research Higher Degrees

(11) In exceptional circumstances, applications will also be considered for the completion of a research higher degree, if all of the following points apply and have been addressed in the application:

  1. there has been no opportunity to incorporate the program into the individual's workload agreement - refer UWS Academic Staff Enterprise Agreement 2005-8, clause 56 - Workloads;
  2. the PDP will result in the completion of the degree;
  3. no more than the equivalent of six (6) months of PDP time is taken for the specific degree; and
  4. the program will benefit the University.

Part C - Duration of PDP

(12) The maximum period granted to undertake a PDP is 22 weeks, which may be taken as a block period or broken down into smaller periods of time (e.g. 2 x 11 week periods). Periods of less than 22 weeks may also be taken. PDP will be taken on the same basis as the staff member's employment status (full or part-time). Where teaching, working patterns or other responsibilities prevent a full-time staff member from undertaking a PDP over a block period, it may be undertaken on a part-time basis, e.g. 44 weeks at half-time.

(13) It is the staff member's choice whether or not they take all or a portion of their annual leave entitlement in association with their PDP absence. PDP, including any associated annual leave, must not normally straddle two semesters. Any variation from this requires the approval of the DVC (Academic and Services) upon submission of a request and rationale.

(14) While there are no fixed dates for the commencement of and return from PDP, it is required that an academic staff member will ensure that the workload responsibilities and expected outcomes in their Workload Agreement will be fulfilled.

(15) PDP periods do not accrue.

(16) Associated requests for leave other than annual leave, such as long service leave within entitlements or leave without pay, should be referred to the Executive Dean of College or, for academic staff not located in Colleges, the relevant Director or Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

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Section 4 - Procedures

Part D - Application Procedures and Process

(17) The call for eligible academic staff to apply to undertake a PDP during the following year will be made in April or May each year, including advice that the University welcomes applications from staff with diverse academic and employment experiences. The closing date will be at least two (2) months after the call for applications. Applications must be submitted on the PDP template (located on the Human Resources Forms and Templates Website, with the link provided in the Associated Documents section of this policy). Applicants are reminded that applications will be evaluated solely on the basis of the information contained in the application template, the Head of School Report and the applicant’s response to the Head of School Report, if applicable.

Assessment Criteria

(18) Applicants must satisfy the College PDP Committee that their proposed Professional Development Program will:

  1. enhance their current contribution to the academic work of the University, within the framework of the strategic plan of the University and College/Division; the goals and strategies of the School/Unit/Centre; and the nature and requirements of academic professions; and
  2. substantially add to their expertise and knowledge.

(19) Applicants must also satisfy the Committee that they are likely to achieve the proposed outcomes of their program within a reasonable time-frame, for example by:

  1. clearly defining the expected outcomes and the process, strategies and time-line for their achievement;
  2. outlining the demonstrated outcomes of any previous period of PDP or demonstrated achievements during the period of employment with the University;
  3. including in the application, in electronic format, supporting documentation from institutions/organisations where the program is to be undertaken or which are relevant to the application.

(20) Provision will be made in the application template for applicants to outline any particular considerations to which the Committee should have regard in relation to their previous research and scholarship, e.g. any variation in working patterns due to carer/family responsibilities, disability accommodations or indigenous background. These diverse circumstances may have implications for the claims made by the applicant in support of their application and the types and levels of outcomes proposed.

(21) The Office of Human Resources will request a report from the Head of School (College staff), the Director University Research Centre (Research Centre staff) or the Director (Divisional staff), which will include (a) information in relation to the alignment of the proposed program with University/College/School/Research goals and strategies and (b) the capacity of the academic or organisational unit to cover adequately the applicant's teaching responsibilities during the PDP period.

(22) Applicants will receive a copy of the above report and be given an opportunity to comment within seven (7) days of its receipt. Any response to a Head of School (or equivalent) report will be considered by the College PDP Committee before a decision is made on the result of an application.

College PDP Committees

(23) Each College Executive Dean will be responsible for establishing a PDP Committee, which will consider each application in line with the criteria outlined in the Assessment Criteria [see clauses (18) through (22)] above and on merit in relation to other PDP applications. The Committee will determine which applications will be approved and the level of financial assistance to be provided within the limits detailed in clauses (47) through (49) below, bearing in mind both the constraint that no more than 7% of the total academic staff establishment may be away per semester or 14% over a whole year and that the Head of School confirms that absences will be covered within the units annual budget allocation.

(24) Applications for PDP will be considered once a year by the College Committees, whose membership is composed of:

  1. The College Executive Dean (chair)
  2. The College Associate Dean (Research)
  3. The College Associate Dean (Academic)
  4. An Associate Dean from another College
  5. The Chair of Academic Senate or nominee.

(25) Applications from academic staff located in a Division will be considered by the College Committee considered most relevant. The Director should provide the information normally provided by the Head of School for other applications.

(26) The Director, Human Resources will nominate a person to act as the Executive Officer to the Committees.

(27) The applications must be submitted to the Office of Human Resources for eligibility checking and passed on to the College Committees for decision.

(28) In assessing the merit of applications and in documenting decisions, committees will address the criteria in this policy and will have regard to the need to recognise the diverse backgrounds and working experiences of applicants due to their family or carer responsibilities, racial and cultural background or their disability. The committees will consider the proposed outcomes and outputs in the context of these diverse backgrounds and circumstances, especially as these relate to clause (19) b in assessing applicants' demonstrated achievements.

(29) Notification to unsuccessful applicants must include the reasons in terms of the criteria listed in the policy.

Responsibilities of Head of School, Director University Research Centre or Division Director

(30) The Heads of Schools, Director University Research Centres and Division Directors are responsible for:

  1. ensuring that academic staff in their Schools or Centres are made aware of the closing date for PDP applications;
  2. discussing with applicants their proposed program, including proposed timing, alignment with University and College strategic plan; School/Research goals and strategies; and
  3. completing the report template for each application.

Academic Staff Member Responsibilities

(31) Each academic staff member applying for PDP should:

  1. check their eligibility to apply with the Office of Human Resources;
  2. check the application closing date;
  3. discuss their proposed program, including proposed timing, alignment with University and College strategic plan; School/Research goals and strategies with their Head of School, Director University Research Centre or Director and other colleagues as appropriate.
  4. address the assessment criteria contained in this policy, using the application template, which includes the following headings:
    1. Abstract
    2. Program Objectives and Rationale (and its alignment with the University and College strategic plan; School/Research goals and strategies)
    3. Program Description
    4. Rationale for Undertaking the Program at Nominated Institutions/Organisations (if applicable)
    5. Expected Outcomes of Undertaking the Program
    6. Attachments, including: evidence of support from institutions/organisations; an abbreviated curriculum vitae outlining academic achievements during the period of employment at the University or, if previously undertaken PDP, outcomes and achievements from the last period of PDP
    7. The capacity of the academic or organisational unit to cover adequately the applicant's teaching responsibilities during the PDP period;
    8. Financial assistance applied for to undertake the PDP (where applicable) (See Financial Assistance and Options below).
      1. Items (i) through (v) above should not exceed five (5) pages of typed text.

Part E - Appeals

(32) Where an applicant disputes the decision of the College or Division PDP Committee not to support the granting of a PDP, s/he has the option to lodge an appeal with the University PDP Appeals Committee. The grounds for appeal are limited to:

  1. failure by the College PDP Committee to comply with the procedural requirements of the Policy; and/or
  2. a failure to observe the requirements of procedural fairness during the Committee process.

(33) Any such appeal must be clear and succinct and submitted in writing to the Director, Human Resources within ten (10) working days of receiving the notification, specifying the procedural grounds on which the appeal is made. Appeals must only be based on the PDP process itself, and not on information gained subsequent to the notification of outcome.

(34) The University PDP Appeals Committee will normally meet within 28 working days of the deadline for appeals from the College Committee meeting last.

(35) The PDP Appeals Committee is composed of the DVC (Academic and Services) (chair) and two (2) members of the Professoriate.

(36) If the Appeals Committee finds the grounds for appeal are justified, it will request the College PDP Committee to reconsider the appellant’s application, ensuring that the procedural requirements of the Policy and the requirements of procedural fairness during the Committee process are observed.

Part F - Conditions of PDP Grant and Leave

(37) Prior to and returning from PDP, staff are required to abide by the following conditions:

  1. The abandonment, transfer, change of dates or alteration of a Professional Development Program must be requested in writing to and approved by the Executive Dean/Director).
  2. The academic staff member must complete teaching and other academic responsibilities as outlined in the academic staff member's Workload Agreement before departing on PDP.
  3. The academic staff member must enter into a formal undertaking that requires the staff member to:
    1. declare proposed professional earnings as outlined in paragraph (56) below;
    2. on return from PDP, resume normal duties as per workload for at least the period of PDP. Long Service Leave should not normally be allowed to follow immediately after the period of PDP. Approval for a staff member to leave the employ of the University after less than the period of PDP rests with the DVC (Academic and Services), who will seek the recommendation of the relevant Executive Dean of College.

(38) An academic staff member in breach of (iii) above will be required to refund to the University the total of monies received as salary and financial assistance for the Program unless otherwise determined by the DVC (Academic and Services).

(39) Within two (2) months of returning from PDP, submit via the Head of School or Director, to the relevant Executive Dean of College or Deputy Vice Chancellor, a written report, not exceeding ten (10) pages of typed text, on the outcomes of the program in relation to the staff member's PDP objectives. A final copy, with the Executive Dean's or Deputy Vice Chancellor's comments attached, should then be forwarded to the nominated Executive Officer of the College/Division PDP Committee. The members of the College/Division PDP Committee will review the report plus written comments. The report, with comments, should then be sent to the Office of Human Resources, for filing on the staff member’s personal file.

(40) Failure to submit a satisfactory report within the required time will incur the penalty of delaying eligibility to apply for any subsequent PDP by the same amount of time as the report is overdue when received. No further PDP will be granted if there is not on file a PDP report, certified as having been received and approved by the Executive Dean or Deputy Vice Chancellor for all previous PDP's granted to the staff member.

(41) Note: Guidelines for writing the report are under Section 5 of this policy.

  1. The academic staff member must formally notify the Office of Human Resources of the date s/he resumed duty.

General Conditions

(42) Whilst undertaking PDP, whether overseas or in Australia, an academic staff member may be required to assist, as far as practicable, with University business. The University will meet authorised out-of-pocket expenses and extensions of PDP time granted where appropriate.

(43) The University may decide to publish information on the operation of PDP, including data on the number of staff undertaking PDP in any one-year, program details and benefits to the University. It will also provide such other statistical data on PDP as required by DEST.

Financial Assistance and Options

(44) An academic staff member granted a PDP will receive his/her normal salary for the duration of the PDP.

(45) In addition, academic staff granted a PDP are eligible for reasonable financial assistance to enable them to undertake the PDP. Where applicable, an itemised budget is to be included in applications.

(46) The funding source for PDP is the College/School or Division/Unit budget.

(47) The total maximum available for overseas programs, including airfares, is $5,000 and the total maximum available for Australia/New Zealand programs, including airfares, is $2,000. This amount does not include salary. Funding for part-time staff will be on the same basis as for full-time staff, i.e. not pro-rata.

(48) The College may provide some financial assistance to partners and dependants accompanying a staff member on a PDP. This assistance will be provided only if the partners/dependants are accompanying the staff member for more than two months. This contribution is as follows: the College/School or Division/Unit will pay up to a maximum of $1,500 each for a partner and each dependent child for international travel and up to a maximum of $1,000 each for a partner and each dependent child for travel within Australia and to New Zealand. Funds need not be restricted to use for airfares only.

(49) For the purposes of this policy, a dependent child is defined as a person 16 years or under and a full time student who resides at home.

(50) Allowances are normally paid six (6) weeks prior to the commencement of the PDP, although, if funds are required for the early purchase of an airline ticket, payment may be made in advance if indemnity insurance is purchased by the academic staff member. Payment is made as a tax-exempt item via the University payroll.

(51) An academic staff member undertaking a PDP has the option to:

  1. have his/her salary paid in the normal manner (i.e. fortnightly);
  2. have his/her salary paid in advance but received just prior to undertaking the PDP;
  3. apply to the Commissioner of Taxation for a variation to the tax payable on salary while they are on a PDP. The decision is based on their ability to prove to the Commissioner that their work-related expenses will exceed the PDP allowance made available by the University.

(52) Notes:

  1. The Office of Human Resources will not adjust a staff member's salary until s/he can provide it with the official Commissioner of Taxation Notice of Variation.
  2. It is the staff member's responsibility to establish what records are required for substantiation of allowable deductions associated with the PDP for taxation purposes and to maintain the necessary records.

(53) Academic staff members who have been requested to undertake University business while on a PDP shall, with the approval of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic and Services), be granted additional financial assistance to cover "out-of-pocket" expenses.

(54) Academic staff members on a PDP may, with the approval of the DVC (Academic and Services), accept emoluments from institutions they visit. Staff would normally be permitted to retain emoluments during the period of PDP, of up to 20% of their salary. Amounts earned in excess of the 20% will be subject to review and the staff member may be required to reimburse the University all or part of the PDP allowance.

(55) The granting of financial assistance other than maintenance of normal salary to recipients of external fellowships/awards is dependent on the total amount of the grant.

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Section 5 - Guidelines

PDP Reports

(56) Academic staff are required, within two (2) months of returning from a PDP, to furnish a written report that should not exceed ten (10) pages of typed text, plus appendices.

(57) It should be noted that PDP reports provide an insight into the academic calibre of the individual and the University as a whole. It is therefore expected that reports will be of a high standard.

(58) A PDP report should include the following:

  1. A brief abstract that provides an overview of the program and outcomes.
  2. A statement of the major objectives as set out in the original application (or in any subsequent approved modifications).
  3. An evaluation of the extent to which the objectives of the program were achieved.
  4. An assessment of the academic benefit(s) gained and a statement of how this will influence teaching and/or research practice.
  5. A statement of expected longer term PDP outcomes, such as publications, collaborative research projects, course development, key contacts/partnerships developed with other universities and organisations etc.
  6. Details of how the PDP allowance was used and, if applicable, a statement of any income earned in connection with the PDP.
  7. Any other statement about the PDP the staff member believes is relevant, e.g. personal and/or cultural issues which may have had an impact on the PDP program.
  8. Any attachments (kept to a minimum) that demonstrate PDP outcomes.

(59) The report should:

  1. be submitted, together with the staff member's PDP application, via the Head of School or Director, to the Executive Dean of College or Deputy Vice Chancellor (as applicable) for their written comments; and
  2. be forwarded, together with the written comments, to the nominated Executive Officer of the College PDP Committee.

(60) The members of the College Committee will review the report plus written comments, which will then be placed on the staff member's personal file.