Study Assistance Guidelines

The purpose of the guidelines is to provide practical examples and advice to supervisors when managing the time release aspect of study assistance applications.

How much time is an employee eligible for?

Time release is available for all employees to the equivalent of two (2) hours per course per week with a maximum of four (4) hours per week (if studying two (2) courses) per semester of study regardless of the mode of study approved, up to a maximum of four (4) courses per year. Time release is not available during semester breaks.

For fractional employees, this time is available on a pro rata basis only as determined by the fraction of appointment. For example an employee who is 50% FTE would be eligible for one (1) hour time release per course per week.

What period does the time release apply to?

The time release period covers the entire semester, including the exam period, however does not include mid-semester breaks. This information is useful as it allows the total number of time release hours available over the semester to be calculated. For example, Semester 1 2015 has 15 weeks (excluding the mid semester break) which means a full time employee would be eligible for a maximum of 30 hours time release over the entire semester period for one course of study.

It is important to note that employees who are undertaking studies outside of USQ (eg. TAFE) may be operating in different time lines. In these cases employees will need to provide this information (ie. dates of semester/course) to enable calculation of time release.

What may the time be used for?

At the time of application, employees are required to identify how they will be using the time release. It is important to note that time release must be used for study purposes (eg attendance at lectures/tutorials on or off-campus, attendance at residential schools or examinations, private study, or research).

The manner in which the leave is to be taken must be discussed and negotiated between the individual employee and supervisor to ensure the operational requirements of the local work area as well as the study requirements of the individual are considered. Once agreed, the application must be approved by the Category 4 Delegate before forwarding to Human Resources for processing.


There are a number of different alternatives to how time release may be applied in different situations:

  • Applicants can utilise their time by attending 1 x 2 hr lecture/tutorial per week. Should they wish to have more time, this time is then taken from own time or is made up (eg. Renee is studying a Bachelor of Business on-campus and decides to attend a subject lecture on Monday afternoon from 1pm – 3pm each week). 
  • Applicants can utilise their time by not attending any lecturers/class per week and accumulate their hours to be utilised at different times throughout the semester. In these cases the leave may be accumulated, but not beyond the semester of accrual (eg. Renee decides to accumulate her 2 hours per week and takes a few complete days (7.2 hours per day for a full time employee) closer to an assignment due date or to study for and/or attend examinations). 
  • Applicants can utilise their time by attending 1 x 1 hour lecturer and accumulate their extra hour to be used at exam time. 
  • Applicants can have a changing weekly hour use on an agreed basis (eg a roster system or similar), as long as a maximum of 2 hours per week per course is maintained (please see the proposed study plan example).

Can an employee accrue additional hours worked whilst receiving time release for study?  What about employees working an RDO arrangement?

Time release as part of the Study Assistance policy is applied as a standard work day (for full time professional employees 7.2 hours). Time release must be taken within the employee’s normal working hours and does not contribute towards any additional hours worked (eg overtime, time in lieu, RDO arrangements etc). The impact of time release on the employee’s workload needs to be discussed and negotiated as part of the initial approval process.

Employees working a Rostered Day Off arrangement will not accrue additional time towards their RDO whilst on time release for study, ie when an employee is absent for 2 hours on study leave, they are not accruing any additional time towards their RDO during this 2 hour period and would need to ensure the necessary accrued time is made up during other working hours in that week. 

For example, an employee working a 19 day month arrangement (ie 1 RDO per month) needs to work an additional 23 minutes per day in order to take this RDO - this equates to an extra 115 minutes per week.  Over a 36 hour week, this averages to an extra 3.19 minutes per hour.  If the employee is absent from work for 2 hours in the week due to time release for approved study, they need to 'make up' 3.19 minutes for each hour they were not at work in that week (ie 3.19 minutes x 2 hours = 6.38 minutes). 

Proposed Study Plan

Due to the flexibility of time release and operational commitments, applicants must discuss and negotiate a Proposed Study Plan (DOC 118kb) with their direct supervisor. This will determine time availability, approved release and will assist in planning for staff leave with minimum disruption to the team.

In some instances, one supervisor may have three or four staff members who have applied for time release as part of their study assistance application. This plan will help forecast absences and will enable appropriate time planning to be completed.

Please note that this is not an official document, however will remain with the direct supervisor and employee and should be updated where appropriate. Human Resources strongly encourage active participation and discussion between supervisor and application throughout the duration of study – reporting on time leave, results and activities.

HR Contacts

Please contact Sue Yonge-Mitchell for further information.