The School of Informatics is committed to an equitable and systematic policy of sabbatical leave. Eligible members of staff are encouraged to take advantage of sabbatical leave periodically to refresh and revitalise their research work. The decision of whether or not to grant sabbatical leave is at the discretion of the Head of School.
Sabbatical leave is a paid form of leave, intended to allow members of academic or academic related staff a break from the regular duties of teaching and administration, so that they can conduct study and research relevant to their job. That is, the salary (and superannuation) of the staff member is still paid in full by the University. This has the consequence that no cash is freed to pay for a temporary replacement, so the duties of the member on sabbatical have to be covered by existing staff members. Sabbatical leave is explicitly not for the preparation of teaching materials, although research into teaching or education is eligible.
A staff member should usually have at least 4 years of service already before applying. Sabbatical leave cannot happen in the final year of employment by the University.
A period of absence should be "in multiples of one semester" and should not normally exceed two semesters. Service earns leave at the rate of one semester for each four years of service within an eligible grade. Unpaid leave does not count towards sabbatical entitlement. The first year of service as a Chancellor's Fellow does not count towards sabbatical entitlement either. This also applies to comparable appointments with tapering of teaching and admin duties. Where someone has accumulated two semesters of sabbatical entitlement, they will be allowed to take leave for a 12 month period beginning at the start of Semester 1 or Semester 2.
The restrictions on taking on other employment are the same as if the person were still on normal duties; i.e. engagements such as consultancy are allowed, but a full salaried position is forbidden.
Staff are responsible for setting and marking all examinations associated with courses they have taught up to the time of their sabbatical leave. For non-honours courses, this means both the regular exam (December or May) and its resit.
For sabbaticals commencing 1 September, staff are responsible for marking any MSc projects they have served as supervisor on in the period up to their sabbatical.
Anyone returning from sabbatical leave prior to or at the start of Semester 1 is responsible for proposing 4th year (honours) projects to be carried out in Semesters 1 and 2. Such proposals are normally made in the previous Spring Semester.
Anyone returning from sabbatical prior to or at the start of Semester 2 is responsible for proposing MSc projects to be carried out starting in Semester 2. Such proposals are normally made right at the start of Semester 2.
Within the School of Informatics, the procedure for applying for sabbatical leave is as follows. The applicant should send to the Informatics HR team a proposal stating:
- the duration of sabbatical leave requested, and preferred period for it to occur;
- the research or study to be carried out during the sabbatical period, at most 2 pages of A4, preferably shorter (the university expects less than a page eventually);
- the reasons why this proposal should be supported at this time, and the rationale for the choice of duration/period of leave (about half a page) (this is for School use only);
- an indication of what practical issues would arise from the leave (courses to be covered, etc.) and, where possible, the applicant's suggestions on how best to handle these (note that it is not the applicant's responsibility to arrange cover - the information is just to help the School);
- an up to date curriculum vitae.
Here are two examples of the kind of thing expected:
The proposal will be forwarded to the Sabbatical Leave Committee, which will make recommendations to the Head of School. The Sabbatical Leave Committee consists of the Head and Deputy Heads of School, the professoriate of Informatics, and the Directors of the Graduate School and of the Teaching Organisation (or their Deputy Directors), if not members of the professoriate.
Duties which a person on sabbatical should not be expected to undertake:
- lecturing; tutoring; demonstrating; setting or marking coursework;
- setting, marking or moderating exams (except for those associated with courses for which s/he had responsibility prior to the sabbatical);
- undergraduate project supervision;
- MSc project supervision - (except for those projects for which s/he was first or second supervisor prior to the sabbatical);
- attendance at School committees; administrative duties such as course organising, convening committees, audit/QA/RAE activities, sitting on University committees, etc.;
- exam invigilation; teaching lab development/management; staff training; internal PhD examining; student induction; student advising and directing of studies; new staff mentoring.
Periods of Leave
Except for new staff who have not yet accumulated two semesters of sabbatical leave, one semester sabbaticals will be discouraged, as academic responsibilities are designed around a one-year period and leave periods of one semester off-load more than one semester's work on other staff members.
Conversely, sabbaticals of more than one year will only be granted in exceptional circumstances, no matter how much service the applicant has accrued. Staff are strongly encouraged to take sabbaticals at roughly the expected frequency. Sabbatical requests that go against this rule are likely to be refused.
Sabbaticals can be used for teaching, research or knowledge exchange activity with each case being considered on merit. There are no absolute criteria (apart from meeting the University regulations) but the following aspects will be taken into account: timeliness, significance, novelty and feasibility of research plans; likely output in form of research papers, research grant applications, etc; amount of leave allocation accumulated; amount of unpaid leave taken recently; re-establishment of research after period of heavy administrative or teaching load; practicality of covering the applicant's duties.
In principle, academic staff accrue the usual amount of sabbatical entitlement while they are on fellowships. However, the sabbatical committee will give a lower priority to sabbatical applications from staff who were on fellowships. This is because sabbaticals are primarily designed to provide relief from administrative and teaching duties, and fellowship holders already enjoy such relief while on fellowships, making it harder to make a convincing case for further relief. At the same time, the School would like to encourage staff who are on fellowships to continue engaging with, and contributing to, the School's activities. Therefore, for a sabbatical application to be successful even though it is substantially based on time accrued during a fellowship, the applicant should have undertaken activities from the following list while on fellowship:
- Limited amounts of classroom teaching (e.g., small courses, or parts of a course)
- Supervision of MSc or undergraduate projects
- Management or leadership activities that benefit the School or the University
- Industry engagement activities that benefit the School or the University
- Outreach activities that benefit the School or the University
The number and type of activities undertaken should be commensurate with the duration of the fellowship. The sabbatical application should refer to them.
For the purposes of this policy, the term "fellowship" covers all cases where the applicant is bought out to do research full-time, independent of funding source.