MPLS Division: Leave guidelines for MPLS Academic Staff
1. Approval of applications for leave
All applications for leave from normal academic duties (sabbatical leave, leave to hold research awards, special leave etc.) must be accompanied by a recommendation from the individual’s department or faculty board, as appropriate, and must also be approved by the divisional board which now has the authority to grant leave.
2. Sabbatical leave and dispensation from CUF lecturing obligations
The University’s regulations in respect of sabbatical leave and dispensation from CUF lecturing duties are set out in Ch. VII, Sect. I of Statutes 2000, pp.372-4 (now redesignated as Council Regulations 24). Application forms are available from the MPLS website and advice on individuals’ entitlement may be obtained from Gwen Booth, MPLS Divisional Office, 9 Parks Road. (Tel. 2-82628, email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
It is imperative that applicants complete all sections of the sabbatical leave application form. In addition, heads of department must satisfy themselves that all arrangements (in particular graduate supervision cover) notified in applications will meet external and internal quality assurance expectations. The completed form must be signed by the relevant Head of Department or Sub-Department [note 1]. Heads of Department or Sub-Department applying for leave should indicate who would be the Acting Head of Department or Sub-Department in their absence. The form should then be returned to the divisional contact shown above, as appropriate, for processing and for divisional board approval.
Report on Periods Sabbatical Leave
This will be requested by Polly Bunce at the end of each period of leave, who will then arrange for one copy to be sent to the relevant Head of Department (who should satisfy him/herself that the period of leave has been used appropriately) and one copy to the academic’s personal file.
3. Sabbatical leave in advance of entitlement
In some circumstances individuals may wish to take leave for purposes covered by the sabbatical leave scheme at a time when they do not have sufficient sabbatical entitlement. Such circumstances might include an unrepeatable opportunity to pursue academic interests, or a need to undertake fieldwork for a period exceeding one year. In such cases leave could be granted in whole or in part as sabbatical leave in advance of entitlement if a good academic case could be demonstrated.
4. Applications for leave to hold some public offices
Applications for leave to accept an appointment in the public service of national or international importance are normally granted by the divisional board, provided that:
- the purpose of the leave can be shown to be compatible with the academic interests of the department or faculty;
- the department or faculty (and the college in the case of joint appointments) supports the application and is able to cover the individual’s duties including examining and graduate supervision;
- it is clear that the individual intends to return to university service after the period of leave.
Applications for leave to hold such offices should be made to the divisional secretary, faculty board secretary or other officer as notified locally.
5. Applications for certain research awards
Applications to national bodies of prestigious and competitive research awards (e.g. British Academy Research Readerships and Senior Research Fellowships, AHRB Research Leave awards, EPSRC Senior or Advanced Fellowships) are normally granted by the divisional board provided that the department or faculty (and the college in the case of joint appointments) supports the application and that appropriate arrangements can be made to cover the individual’s duties, including examining and graduate supervision, should the application be successful. Completed application forms (including any annexes) should be forwarded to the divisional contact shown above, well before the closing date for processing and for divisional board approval. Applications from CUF lecturers are normally sent to the awarding body by the college (but must have divisional board approval beforehand); applications from other staff are normally forwarded to the awarding body by the divisional contact.
6. Applications for special unpaid leave
Applications for leave other than those outlined above may be considered as applications for special unpaid leave. Applications may be considered if they meet one or both of the following criteria:
i) providing academic benefit to the University;
ii) providing a career development opportunity for the individual, hence aiding staff retention.
Activities under these criteria might include visiting another institution to study specialised laboratory techniques, taking up a visiting lecturership or visiting professorship at a prestigious department abroad, an extended period of fieldwork etc.
In all cases, it is essential that the consent of the college (where appropriate) and of the department/faculty board is obtained before an application is made to the divisional board. In considering applications, colleges and departments/faculty boards must be satisfied that the proposed leave fits with their overall plans and objectives, and it must be clear that the individual’s duties for the college and for the department/faculty, including examining and graduate supervision, can be covered satisfactorily. Divisional boards will consider applications both on their own merits and in the context of overall operational needs, and will not approve applications which are prejudicial to the teaching and research of the department/faculty or which are not supported by the applicant’s college.
Occasionally applications are made for leave to enable an individual to accept a fixed-term appointment in another academic institution (other than routine visiting appointments held during sabbatical leave). In such instances the college and the department/faculty board would need to be satisfied that the application was in line with their overall plans and objectives, as above, and that all operational requirements could be covered satisfactorily, before the application was put to the divisional board. Applicants would normally be expected to give a commitment to return to Oxford after the period of leave. It should be noted that the longer the appointment at the other institution, the less likely it is that leave will be granted.
Leave will not be granted, except in the most truly exceptional circumstances, to enable an individual to decide whether to accept a permanent post elsewhere.
It is recognised that some offers are made to individuals at short notice. Given the fact that all members of the academic staff have clear obligations to the University and to their college under the terms of their contracts, no such offer should be accepted without the support of the college and the department/faculty and the explicit approval of the divisional board. It is essential, therefore, that any prospect of such an offer is discussed, in confidence, with the college and with the divisional secretary or faculty board secretary at the earliest opportunity so as to avoid delays, and the possibility of refusal, if a firm offer is then made at very short notice.
All applications for special unpaid leave should be made to the divisional secretary, faculty board secretary or other officer as notified locally, who will also be able to advise on the likelihood of success of any application on the university side; the college’s consent in appropriate cases must be obtained before an application is put to the divisional board.
7. Special paid leave
Divisions may, if they wish, with the concurrence of the college in relevant cases, grant additional paid leave outside sabbatical entitlement, funded from their own resources, to enable staff to undertake projects of mutual benefit to the individual and the University. Examples might include asking a member of staff to concentrate for a term wholly on considering revised teaching patterns across a whole subject area; or permitting a member of staff to teach at another university for a term to foster inter-institutional links, possibly as part of an exchange arrangement.
8. Stipendiary arrangements
Sabbatical leave and dispensation from CUF lecturing duties: leave will be granted with stipend (although it may be granted without stipend if taken for the purpose of holding a remunerated visiting appointment under 6 above).
Leave to hold a public office: leave will be granted without stipend.
Leave to hold a research award: the arrangements vary depending on the regulations governing the award, but it is normal for individuals holding such awards to continue to receive their usual university stipend, the awarding body either providing funds to make a replacement appointment or reimbursing the University for the individual’s salary costs.
Special leave: leave will normally be granted without stipend, but see 7 above.
9. Implications for future entitlement to sabbatical leave or dispensation from CUF lecturing duties
Special leave does not count as qualifying service for the purposes of calculating future entitlement to sabbatical leave or dispensation from CUF lecturing duties. However it does not count against an individual’s future entitlement. When special leave has been granted for the purposes of holding a public office or a research award, sabbatical leave is not normally granted in the period immediately preceding or following the period of special leave, although some flexibility may be exercised at the divisional board’s discretion in respect of periods of special leave not exceeding one year, especially in connection with the holding of research awards.
1. In Physics, the Chairman of Physics and head of Sub-Department are both required to sign the application form; in Chemistry the head of the relevant Sub-Department (except where the head of Sub-Department is the applicant, in which case the application must be approved by the Chairman).