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Sabbatical Leave Policy and Procedure

1. Purpose

This policy defines sabbatical leave, the parameters within which academic staff may access this leave and the process to be followed when applying for sabbatical leave.

2. Scope

The policy applies to all academic staff in the grades of Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor.

Academic staff who are sponsored migrants should be aware of the specific limitation that UK Visas and Immigration places on their ability to undertake a period of unpaid sabbatical leave. Paragraph 225 of the Tier 2 and 5 sponsor Guidance states:

"If a sponsored migrant wishes to take a longer period of other unpaid leave, for example a sabbatical, you must stop sponsoring them and report this to us using your SMS account."

UCL would be obliged to terminate the certificate of sponsorship at this point which would bring the contractual relationship to an end.

There is no intention to restrict paid sabbaticals, related to work and personal career development, as long as the employee is still receiving the appropriate salary for the job.

3. Definitions

Sabbatical Leave is defined as a form of paid leave which is free from all teaching and administrative duties, to undertake research or other appropriate study related to an individual’s academic or professional field. Sabbatical leave is provided to assist staff to maintain the high calibre of research, scholarship, teaching and innovation for which UCL is renowned.

4. Policy

Sabbatical leave may be granted at the discretion of the relevant Head of Department, Dean, Vice-Provost or Provost for a period of one term after three years qualifying service with UCL.

In addition to the qualification period, research active academics returning from maternity, adoption, shared parental, additional paternity, extended carer's, or long term sickness leave are entitled to one term of sabbatical leave without teaching commitments. This leave will enable staff to more quickly re-establish their research activity.

The right to apply for sabbatical leave will not be affected by any previous period of, or application for, maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

By the end of a period of sabbatical leave academic staff are expected to produce tangible outcomes in furtherance of their research or teaching. A report confirming what has been achieved during each period of sabbatical leave must be submitted to the Head of Department within two months of return.

Departmental Strategic Plans should identify sabbatical leave priorities and the provision of cover for sabbatical leave.  

5. Procedures 

Planning for Sabbatical Leave

Heads of Department must inform all staff of eligibility to apply for sabbatical leave as part of the induction process and of any particular arrangements within the department to facilitate sabbatical leave.

An individual's aspirations for sabbatical leave and its intended outcomes should be discussed as part of the professional development discussion within the Appraisal process.

The Dean will discuss with potential Heads of Department their aspirations for sabbatical leave and will advise the Provost who will take these into consideration in proposing Headship appointments (and renewal of appointments) to Council.


Sabbatical leave requests should be made to the relevant Head of Department, Dean, Vice-Provost or the Provost in writing on the Sabbatical Leave Funding Application form or a Faculty-specific form where these are in use.


The following criteria will be considered in relation to applications for sabbatical leave


Departments should contact their School Finance Team regarding the cost of sabbatical cover before agreements on sabbatical leave applications are reached.


Authority for approval of sabbatical leave and responsibility for arranging cover for teaching and administrative responsibilities etc. are vested in the Head of Department or Dean (in some Faculties and where the applicant is a Head of Department).

6. Sabbatical and other forms of leave

To mark its commitment to gender equality in academic careers, UCL provides the opportunity for one term of Sabbatical Leave, without teaching commitments, to be taken by research active academic employees returning from Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave, Shared Parental Leave, Additional Paternity Leave (where any of these individually or combined totals more than 3 months duration), extended Carer’s Leave or long term sickness absence.

7. Monitoring and Review

Sabbatical leave that is granted through this policy should be recorded on an employee's MyView record so it can be monitored for equal opportunities purposes. 

This policy will be reviewed on request.

HR Strategy and Planning
Updated January 2013

Sabbatical Application form