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Study Assistance Policy for Staff Members enrolling in Tertiary Study

Category Human Resources
Type Policy
Approved by Vice Chancellor's Advisory Group, November 1999
Date Policy Took Effect 1 November 1999
Last Approved Revision 23 December 2015
Sponsor Director of Human Resources
Responsible Officer Head of Organisational Development
Review Date 23 December 2020


The purpose of this Policy is to define the circumstances in which staff members enrolling in tertiary study might be eligible for study assistance funded by the University.

Organisational Scope

This policy applies University wide.


Study Assistance Approver
The most appropriate of the following: Pro-Vice-Chancellor; Dean in the Division of Health Sciences; Divisional Head; or Chief Operating Officer in Operations Divisions.


1. Overview

Where the conditions of employment specify conditions for the granting of study leave and the payment of fees, these should be adhered to. In all other cases, including grant funded staff, the following policy shall apply:

  1. Members of staff whose employment is half-time or more, and who have a minimum contract of 10 months, may apply for Study Assistance except for staff enrolling in DBA or MBA programmes who must be permanent and full-time. Staff who do not have permanent resident status, and enrol in courses for which they are required to pay full cost fees, will not normally be eligible for Study Assistance.
  2. Recommendations for study assistance must be approved by a Study Assistance Approver.
  3. All applications for study assistance should be submitted to the appropriate Study Assistance Approver at least three weeks prior to the due date for payment of fees. Retrospective applications will not normally be accepted.
  4. Distance study applications should be submitted prior to the commencement of the year in which study will occur. This applies regardless of the semester study commences.
  5. A member of staff whose application for Study Assistance has been declined may request a review of the decision by the Director of Human Resources.
  6. Members of staff will not normally be eligible for study assistance in respect of more than one paper per semester. In the case of study assistance for distance learning, up to four modules/papers may be undertaken per year.
  7. Members of staff who enrol for interest only will not normally be eligible for study assistance.

2. Fees and Expenses Grant

  1. Fees and Expenses
    1. Where study is a condition of employment and specified as such in the letter of appointment full tuition fees and expenses may be granted. Where members of staff have been required to undertake study subsequent to their appointment the application for a 100% grant must be accompanied by a formal letter from the Study Assistance Approver, which makes clear that the applicant is required to undertake study.
    2. Where study is work related but is desirable rather than essential, 70% of the tuition fee and expenses may be granted.
    3. Where an application to study Maori Language papers is approved the grant will be 100% of the appropriate fee (30% of that will be funded by the Office of the Director of Maori Development).
    4. Where an application to study level one Maori Studies papers other than the language papers is approved the grant will be 70% of the appropriate fee.
    5. Where an application to study papers for the Postgraduate Certificate, Diploma or Master in Higher Education is approved the grant will automatically be 100%, and will be fully funded by the department.
    6. Applications for non-work-related study may receive a grant of 25% of the appropriate fee provided that the applicant does not already possess a University degree or an equivalent tertiary qualification and, where possible and practicable, is undertaking this study at the University of Otago.
  2. Fees & Expenses Limits:
    A limit of NZD$8,418 per annum normally applies to all grants for fees and expenses, with the exception of postgraduate courses in Health Sciences. However, under exceptional circumstances, the Study Assistance Approver may approve a grant over this limit.
  3. Failure to pass papers:
    An application for a Fees Grant will not normally be approved where a recipient of a grant has failed to pass a paper in a previous year.

3. Leave to Attend Classes

  1. All staff who are eligible for a fees grant under 2(a) (i) may be granted up to 2 hours leave per week to attend classes. Where necessary leave in excess of 2 hours may be granted but that time must be made up.
  2. All staff who are eligible for a fees grant under 2(a), (ii) or (iii) may be granted leave to attend classes as follows:
    1. Full-time member of staff: 2 hours leave per week.
    2. Less than full-time member of staff: 1 hours leave per week.
    3. Where necessary leave in excess of the above allowances may be granted but the time must be made up.
  3. All staff who are eligible for a fees and expenses grant under either 2(a), (ii) or (iii) will, where practicable, be granted paid leave to attend block courses. Leave to attend block courses must be requested at the time of the application for study assistance.
  4. All staff who are eligible for a fees grant under 2(a) (v) may, where practicable, and at the discretion of the Head of Department, be granted no more than 2 hours leave per week to attend classes, but that time must be made up.

4. Guidelines for Interpretation of the Study Assistance Policy

  1. Study Assistance is a privilege granted at the discretion of the employer in the interests of appropriate training and development of staff for the benefit of the University.
    1. Staff on leave without pay are not normally entitled to study assistance. However, in cases where staff commence leave without pay part way through a course of study for which they have previously been granted study assistance, Heads of Department may, if they feel it is in the best interests of the department for the individual to complete the study, put a case for exemption from this rule to the Study Assistance Approver.
    2. Where the staff member's contract is due to expire part way through the proposed course of study, but the HOD is certain that the contract will be rolled over, they may, if they wish to do so, put a special case for Study Assistance to the Study Assistance Approver.
  2. Any approval for MBA or DBA study (both internal and external) will require an undertaking from the staff member to repay any financial support pro rata should they leave the University's employment within three years of completing each course of study for which fees support has been given.
  3. Grants of 100% for fees and expenses should be rare, and confined only to cases where study has been made a condition of employment in the letter of appointment, or subsequently required by the employer for the benefit of the University, eg. to assist a department to meet Health and Safety requirements. Academic staff completing a PhD should receive a 100% subsidy only if completion of the PhD was part of the job contract or a confirmation path objective.
  4. When considering whether study is work related or not the value of the degree or qualification as a whole should be considered rather than individual papers. However, the particular papers chosen by the staff member must always meet with the approval of the Study Assistance Approver.
  5. The 25% fee subsidy is intended to encourage staff members who have little or no experience of study at degree level to develop their potential, and their career within the University.
  6. Given the University's declared commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi and the Maori Strategic Framework, HODs, Divisional Heads and Deans are encouraged to support staff who wish to study one hundred level papers in Maori Studies and Maori Language papers at all levels.
  7. The term "expenses" relates to the cost of attending block courses for staff undertaking external study, eg. travel expenses. Heads of Department are encouraged to support their staff to attend block courses.
  8. Staff are automatically exempted from paying the OUSA fee, but may choose to pay the fee themselves if they wish to join the Association. The OUSA fee must not be included in Study Assistance grants.
  9. Only in exceptional circumstances should staff be permitted to enrol in more than one paper per semester. Staff who are part time may choose to study more than one paper per semester, but will not be eligible to receive Study Assistance for the additional papers.
  10. HODs must ensure that staff who are studying have adequate breaks, and that the additional workload imposed by study is manageable and reasonable.
  11. Staff studying distance learning courses do not have an entitlement to weekly leave under the policy as they do not attend classes. However, HODs may, on an occasional basis, grant discretionary leave for study provided that it is in the best interest of the individual and the department, and takes full account of any leave granted to attend block courses as part of the study.
  12. For staff applying for distance study, the normal expectation is that any study undertaken will be completed in up to four years.

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

Contact for Further Information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, please contact:

Denise Lindsay
Head of Organisational Development
Tel +64 3 479 5431