Special Studies Program Policy

Fact box

Purpose

This policy defines the purpose of the Alphacrucis College (AC) Special Studies Program (SSP) for faculty and outlines the eligibility criteria and procedures for application.

Scope

All academic faculty

Policy

SSP leave releases a faculty member from regular teaching and administrative duties for a period for the purpose of producing high quality research publications. SSP is not intended to be used for the purposes of completing a Higher Degree Research (HDR) course.

Principles

SSP is a substantial strategic investment which is beneficial to AC and its academic faculty. Therefore, SSP leave is assessed and approved based on the following principles:

  • aligns with the AC Strategic Plan;
  • is a benefit not an entitlement;
  • results in high quality research publication(s) at least five Excellence in Research (ERA) recognised points;
  • expands AC’s industry, research and community linkages nationally and/or internationally;
  • is subject to budgetary constraints;
  • may be conditional upon the faculty member reducing leave accruals;
  • will usually only be granted where the academic activities of the College can continue without serious disruption or additional cost;
  • has not been granted within the previous eight years;
  • approval is not automatic even when the applicant satisfies the eligibility requirements;
  • will be prioritised for applicants with significant teaching and/or administrative responsibilities.

Eligibility

To be eligible the faculty member should:

  • have usually been employed by AC continuously for at least eight years of service in an academic appointment on a fixed contract, including those with fractional appointments of at least 50%. Faculty may apply for leave without pay if receiving external funding;
  • have produced at least five ERA recognised points of high quality research publications in the previous five years;
  • present a well-structured case for SSP leave including a detailed description of the proposed research and expected outcomes which will benefit the faculty member as well as AC;
  • have not been on probation due to unsatisfactory conduct, performance, or misconduct.

Length of Absence

No period of SSP may exceed six months.

Leave

Faculty members taking SSP must also take the minimum amounts of annual leave. All leave taken in conjunction with SSP must be approved at the time the SSP is approved. This includes annual leave, long service leave, paid parental leave, personal leave and leave without pay.

If the faculty member is ill for a period of at least 20 consecutive working days while on SSP, s/he may apply for an extension to the SSP providing supporting medical evidence is provided.

Any periods of SSP which differ from the standard length of absence will require approval of the supervisor or delegated representative.

Return of Service

A member of faculty to whom SSP leave has been granted shall agree to return to AC on the expiration of the leave and remain in its service for at least one year thereafter.

Additional Conditions

No one to whom SSP leave with pay has been granted shall be permitted, while on such leave, to accept remunerative employment or engage in professional practice or work for which pecuniary compensation is received. This prohibition, however, shall not be construed to forbid a faculty member while on leave from giving a limited number of lectures at AC or doing a limited amount of work, provided it does not impose on SSP work. It also shall not be construed to disqualify a part-time academic staff member on SSP leave from obtaining normal part-time work separate to their responsibilities at AC. Nor shall this be interpreted to forbid the acceptance by a faculty member, while on leave, of a scholarship or fellowship carrying a stipend for the purpose of research or the acceptance of a grant of money made for such purposes, provided that the grant does not impose on SSP work.

Alternatives to SSP

SSP may not be the most appropriate arrangement for the desired outcome. Before SSP is applied for, the faculty member should consider alternative arrangements, such as:

  • travel funding for conferences or fieldwork;
  • rearranging duties to allow uninterrupted time to complete research;
  • leave without pay, where a faculty member visits an institution for a significant period and salary or reimbursement of costs are available;
  • secondments, whereby the faculty member remains on AC’s payroll and the institution being visited reimburses AC for the faculty member’s services;
  • faculty exchanges, which may be available if all affected parties agree. In such cases the individual remains on his/her home institution’s payroll while fulfilling a full range of duties and responsibilities for, and defined by, the host institution.

Responsible for implementation

Deputy Vice President Research and Standards

Key stakeholders

All academic staff


Procedures

Special Studies Program Procedure

Application

The SSP leave application should:

  • include an endorsement from the relevant supervisor;
  • be submitted during the annual budget process of the preceding year;
  • highlight both the benefits to the individual and to AC;
  • be a substantive written case for SSP, providing sufficient detail to enable an assessment of its quality alongside the contribution of the proposed activities against AC’s strategic priorities;
  • include any additional internal or external funding that will be allocated. Faculty members are encouraged to seek additional external funding and a statement of earnings should be included in the final report;

Approval

  • In line with the budgetary cycle, Research Committee will consider all SSP leave applications received for the following year;
  • If recommended by Research Committee, the application is then tabled at Academic Board and Executive for approval; To be successful, the application must receive approval from Academic Board as well as Executive;
  • Priority may be given to approved applications from the previous round which could not be granted because of College requirements;
  • In accepting SSP leave, a faculty member shall sign a statement indicating that s/he is aware of and that they agree to all conditions of the leave as specified herein.
  • The awarding of SSP leave is at the discretion of the Executive and Academic Board. No appeal will be considered.

Substantial Variation

No substantial variation to the approved program can be made while on SSP without approval by the Research Committee. Applications for a substantial variation should be endorsed by the relevant supervisor, then tabled to Research Committee for approval.

Reporting

The faculty member is to provide a Mid-SSP Leave Report to his/her supervisor demonstrating that the objectives are on track for successful completion. If the objectives are not being met, the SSP may be revoked.

Within one month of completion of SSP leave, the faculty member shall file a written SSP Leave Final Report of the research activities and outcomes while on leave, to be tabled to Research Committee. If the report is not submitted, the faculty member is in breach of the policy and may be subject to disciplinary action. Delay in providing the report or not meeting the objectives of the SSP proposal may exclude the faculty member from undertaking any future SSP.