Learning & Teaching

Postgraduate Staff Sponsorship Program

Academic & General Staff

Contents

Introduction
Aims of the Program
Eligibility
Applications and criteria
Selection process
Cost and Fringe Benefits Tax
Granting of Study Time
Academic progress
Completion period
Leaving the Program or the University
ADDENDUM - Staff currently enrolled in a postgraduate course
ATTACHMENT 1- Fringe Benefits Tax information
ATTACHMENT 2- Otherwise Deductible Declaration


 Introduction

The Postgraduate Sponsorship Program provides staff with the opportunity to develop a range of skills and knowledge, critical to their current position.

Staff can apply for a sponsored place in either the Masters of Business Administration (MBA) or any other postgraduate course offered by the University of Wollongong which is deemed relevant to the staff member's current position.

The Postgraduate Sponsorship Program is offered to both academic and general staff of the University of Wollongong. The Program does not include enrolment in Doctorates or Research based degrees.

Aims of the Program

  • Enable staff to add to their qualifications in an area of study directly relevant to their work
  • Provide an opportunity for staff to develop transferable skills that can contribute to the wider University environment
  • Strengthen the existing skill base of employees of the University
  • Support career development pathways for staff
  • Contribute to the attraction and retention of high performing staff

 Eligibility

Permanent academic or general staff or staff on a contract of 5 years or more, in the early stages of their contract, (ie. 1-2 years since commencement) are able to apply for the Postgraduate Sponsorship Program. Applicants must satisfy the criteria stated in this policy. Temporary or casual staff are unable to apply.

Applications and Criteria

Applications will be called for annually in the second half of the year, and participants will normally commence in Autumn Session. However applicants can negotiate the commencement arrangement if required.

To lodge an application, candidates are required to complete the application form (https://intranet.uow.edu.au/content/pods/forms/Postgraduate_Sponsorship.rtf), which will:

  • Provide a summary of work history (over past four years) and educational qualifications;
  • Address the following selection criteria:
    (i) Relevance of nominated course to your current role
    (ii) The benefits to you and UOW if you were to undertake postgraduate study
    (iii) Demonstrate how this course of study aligns with your career development priorities (evidenced by copy of Career Development Record, Performance Planner or Performance Agreement)
  • Include a statement of support and approval from the applicant's Manager and Dean/Director.

To ensure no Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) liability for the University, applicants must be able to satisfy the 'Otherwise Deductible Declaration' form (Attachment 2) stating that participating in this sponsorship program has immediate relevance to current employment.

Applicants must meet the above stated criteria, have their Dean/Director's support for the application, and also satisfy the entry requirements set out by the relevant faculty to undertake the nominated course.

Selection Process

In selecting participants, a reasonable balance of gender will be sought, subject to the applications and their fit with the selection criteria. The selection committee will be comprised of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Operations) or nominated representative; Director, Personnel Services; and Manager, Professional & Organisational Development Services. A representative from the EED Unit may also be involved.

The selection panel must ensure that the successful applicants not only meet the detailed selection criteria but also meet the criteria outlined for FBT exemption (Attachment 1). The specialist area to be studied must also meet these criteria and be determined at the start of the program.

Cost and Fringe Benefits Tax

See Attachment 1.

 Granting of Study Time

General Staff
General staff participants can apply for study time through the Study Time Policy which is administered by the Professional & Organisational Development Services. Go to the Study Time Policy.

Academic Staff
Academic staff would need to negotiate appropriate availability with their Supervisor.

 Academic Progress

The University will require a satisfactory level of academic performance from all participants. Performance in studies must reflect a minimum grade of Pass or above, ie not Pass Conceded or Pass Terminating.

Participants who fail a subject will be liable for the repeat or replacement subject fees.

 Completion Period

Participants who are studying part-time are expected to undertake a regular pattern of study and take no longer than four years to complete. If there is difficulty in doing so, the participant must contact the Manager, Professional & Organisational Development Services immediately.

 Leaving the Program or the University

Participants who elect to leave the Program part way to completion will be permitted to complete the subject/s they are undertaking at the time. There will be no penalty for doing so, however they may be eligible to apply for the Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma qualifications where applicable.

If a participant leaves his/her employment with the University part way through the Program they will be permitted to complete the subject/s they are undertaking at the time. If the participant wishes to complete the degree they may do so subject to normal conditions.


 ADDENDUM - staff currently enrolled in a postgraduate course.

Where a staff member is already enrolled in a course, they may apply for the sponsorship, with each applicant considered on a case by case basis.

There is no guarantee a position will be available on this sponsorship program.


 ATTACHMENT 1 - Fringe Benefits Tax Information

This initiative of the University to offer a number of general and academic staff the opportunity to undertake study in a postgraduate course free of charge each year, has potential Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) implications. In the circumstances set out in the selection criteria however, it will be possible for the taxable value of the fringe benefit to be reduced to nil. In these cases no liability for FBT will be incurred by the University.

Reduction in taxable value where expenditure would have been deductible to the employee
Based on advice received from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) the University will be able to reduce the taxable value of the fringe benefit through application of the 'Otherwise Deductible' rule. The taxable value may be reduced by the amount that the employee would have been able to claim as a personal income tax deduction if both the following conditions had been satisfied:

  1. the residual benefit had not been provided as a fringe benefit; and
  2. the employee had acted as a consumer or member of the public in purchasing the service or privilege.

In other words, had the employee met the cost of enrolling in the degree and it is relevant to their employment they would be entitled to an income tax deduction for the expense. Accordingly, the taxable value of the fringe benefit provided would be reduced, to nil, and no liability for fringe benefits tax would arise to the University.

Substantiation requirements
The use of the 'Otherwise Deductible' rule to reduce the taxable value of fringe benefits must be supported by certain documentation. This documentation is required to substantiate the extent to which the purchase price of the residual benefit would have been 'otherwise deductible' to the employee. The documentation must be obtained from the employee prior to lodging the relevant FBT return.

A sample declaration is attached in Attachment 2.

As part of the 'Otherwise Deductible Declaration' staff are required to provide sufficient information to demonstrate the extent to which the benefit was used for the purposes of earning their assessable income. To allow employees to make this declaration and thus reduce the taxable value of the benefit, the postgraduate course must be relevant to the staff member's current employment. Additionally, staff will be required to declare, had they paid for the services, the percentage entitlement they would have been entitled to claim as an income tax deduction. For any staff not eligible to claim a 100% deduction the University will be liable for FBT, hence these employees will not be considered for admission into the Sponsorship Program at that time.

If the University is to minimise liability for FBT it is essential that one of the criteria for selection of staff be that they are at, or nearing, managerial levels of responsibility. Through targeting staff at the managerial level it is expected that the studies would be seen as 100% relevant to their employment and they would ordinarily be entitled to an income tax deduction for the full expense. This 100% deduction in turn reduces the University's FBT liability to nil.


 ATTACHMENT 2 - Otherwise Deductible Declaration

 

I, ________________________________________________________
(name of employee)

declare that the

__________________________________________________ course fees
(name of course)

were provided to me by or on behalf of my employer during the period from:

______________________ to _______________________

and that the benefit was used by me for the following purpose:

Attaining qualifications directly relevant to my current employment

I also declare that had I purchased the service or privilege for its market value, I would have been entitled to claim an income tax deduction equal to 100% of the purchase price.

Signature:_______________________________________________________

Date: _____________________________

 

PER-POD-POL-006

Reviewed: September 2005

Comments or questions should be directed to pods_admin@uow.edu.au

 

Last reviewed: 1 March, 2012