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Study and Reimbursement of Fees Procedure

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Section 1 - Introduction

(1) The University of Newcastle (University) is committed to encouraging and supporting staff in the pursuit of further studies and qualifications to assist them in gaining the skills and expertise required to deliver on the University's core business and strategic plan.

(2) This procedure outlines the process for staff to seek approval:

  1. to undertake a course or program of study that leads to a formal qualification; and
  2. for the reimbursement of associated study fees.
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Section 2 - Audience

(3) Supervisors and staff.

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Section 3 - Scope

(4) This procedure applies to courses or programs of study that lead to formal qualifications that are relevant and appropriate to the staff member’s current or likely future duties and responsibilities at the University, and are of benefit to the University.

(5) This procedure does not apply to:

  1. University-initiated staff training and development such as short programs/prescribed courses, continuing professional development (CPD) or similar, and conferences;
  2. the University's Special Studies Program (SSP); or
  3. the reimbursement of professional association/body fees.
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Section 4 - Procedure

Eligibility 

(6) Eligibility for study leave, examination leave and reimbursement of associated fees will be in accordance with the relevant Enterprise Agreement.

(7) Staff should seek to undertake study at the University of Newcastle where a relevant program is offered. In circumstances where a relevant program is not available through the University of Newcastle, including because of the mode of delivery available, study through another institution may be approved.

Approval to Undertake Study 

(8) Before commencing the proposed program of study the staff member must complete an Application to Undertake a Program of Study With or Without Reimbursement.

(9) The staff member must submit the completed Application to Undertake a Program of Study With or Without Reimbursement to a relevant authorised delegate, via their supervisor (if relevant), for it to be considered for approval.

(10) In determining a staff member’s application to undertake a program of study, with or without reimbursement, the relevant authorised delegate will consider the following:

  1. enterprise agreement provisions – the application must meet the requirements of the relevant enterprise agreement;
  2. relevance – the course of study must be relevant and appropriate to the staff member's current or likely future duties and responsibilities at the University, or be of benefit to the University
  3. budget – whether the School or business unit has sufficient budget available to cover the reimbursement of fees;
  4. equity – equity for all staff in the School/business unit in accessing the funds available for development within the School or business unit budget. This includes consideration of the number of study programs the staff member has previously undertaken that have been supported by the University and the estimated total cost of the proposed program of study as outlined in the Application to Undertake a Program of Study With or Without Reimbursement;
  5. access to study/exam leave – consideration should be given to staff coverage that may be required where multiple staff from the same area have their course of study approved and will need to access study leave or exam leave simultaneously; 
  6. employment provisions – previously agreed employment arrangements (for example traineeships) where a commitment has been made to support prescribed studies; and
  7. development – the development or progression opportunity that the study will provide the particular staff member as discussed during the Performance Review and Development (PRD) process. 

(11) An approval granted by the relevant authorised delegate will apply for the duration of the program of study, unless:

  1. the staff member displays unsatisfactory conduct or service;
  2. the staff member is not progressing as planned through the program;
  3. the staff member ceases employment with the University;
  4. the staff member transfers from their current Unit/School to another Unit/School; or
  5. as otherwise specified by the supervisor or Head of School/Director.

(12) Once approved, the staff member will:

  1. retain the approved form; and
  2. provide their relevant School/Unit and Human Resource Services with a copy of the approval.

(13) Human Resource Services will save a copy of the approval on the staff member’s file.

(14) Staff members who have approval to undertake an approved program of study will have access to study leave, examination leave, pre-examination leave and travel time as outlined in the relevant University Enterprise Agreement

Rate of Fee Reimbursement and Conditions

(15) The rate of reimbursement is up to 50% of the individual tuition course fees.

(16) Staff must be employed by the University of Newcastle to claim reimbursement of study fees.

(17) Reimbursement of any fee or charge will only be made on production of proof of the successful completion of each course/subject, such as an official transcript or grades.

(18) To avoid unnecessary cost to the University, staff are expected to apply for credit for previous study where applicable.

(19) In exceptional circumstances, a relevant authorised delegate may approve a higher proportion of reimbursement of fees if the study provides significant and immediate benefit to the organisation.

(20) Where applicable, staff may choose to pay their study fees up-front or defer payment through HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP.

Claiming a Reimbursement of Fees

(21) Once a course/subject has been successfully completed, an Application for Reimbursement of Study Fees form should be completed by the staff member. Where possible this should be made in the calendar year in which the course is undertaken.

(22) Evidence of payment or deferral of payment of study fees and proof of the successful completion of each course/subject, such as an official transcript of grades, must be attached to the form. 

(23) The application form must be provided to the relevant authorised delegate for approval. The Application for Reimbursement of Study Fees form is to be returned to the staff member after the relevant authorised delegate has approved the application.

(24) Once the Application for Reimbursement of Study Fees form is approved, the staff member must claim reimbursement through the Fraedom Expense Management System by:

  1. raising a Cash Expense claim, Reimbursement of Study Fees; and
  2. attaching the scanned and approved Application for Reimbursement of Study Fees application form (as 1 image document) to the Fraedom expense claim for approval.

Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) Implication

(25) Reimbursement costs can attract Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT).

(26) FBT can apply to any reimbursement of HECS fees paid to staff. Other course fees are exempt from FBT as long as the staff member could have claimed the expense as an income tax deduction. For any transaction subject to FBT, the cost of the benefit effectively doubles and could have personal taxation implications. 

(27) FBT will be charged to the relevant College/Division on a regular basis, in addition to the reimbursement. The correct detail code must be used to ensure the transaction is identified by Financial Services as being subject to FBT. Please contact finserv-taxation@newcastle.edu.au if you require further information.

Review

(28) A staff member may seek a review of a decision regarding the approval to study and reimbursement of fees in accordance with any relevant provisions of the applicable Enterprise Agreement or employment contract.