UCL Human Resources


UCL Policy for Funding for Staff Learning and Development

The principles underlying the provision of discretionary learning and development for staff.


Purpose and Scope

1. The purpose of this policy is to outline the principles underlying the provision of discretionary learning and development for staff who wish to pursue their continuous professional development. 

2. This policy applies to all staff in an established or recognised UCL post for a period exceeding the duration of the course. The member of staff will be expected to have successfully completed a probationary period.

3. This policy includes the provision of financial support for staff who wish to pursue an external course that results in a professional qualification or other nationally approved vocational qualification.

4. Financial support is discretionary and this policy does not form part of an employee’s contract of employment. It may be amended from time to time with appropriate consultations with recognised trade union representatives.


5. Staff learning and development encompasses a wide and diverse range of activities the purpose of which is to increase performance, staff engagement and effectiveness. 

6. The university demonstrates its commitment to learning and development by encouraging staff to engage in learning and development opportunities and measuring its effectiveness. 

7. Essential staff learning and development needs should be identified during appraisal reviews and link to the employee’s career development.

8. Any learning and development agreed must relate to the employee’s area of work as defined in the role profile and appraisal review or relate to their development as agreed with their line manager. The budget to pay for any training must be identified before financial support is confirmed.

9. To ensure a consistent approach, all requests for assistance will be at the discretion of the employee’s line manager. Requests should be reviewed by the Faculty Director/Manager and approved by the Dean or Director.

10. Staff who receive financial support towards the cost of a course or training will be required to sign an Employee Learner Agreement (“ELA”) Appendix 2. Funding received from the Study Assistance Scheme will be excluded from this Agreement.

11. Financial support for training or a course will not include payment towards personal membership fees or other resources (i.e. books).

12. The employee must undertake to meet all the compulsory course requirements and maintain a satisfactory level of achievement throughout the course/training programme.

13. Where financial assistance has been provided, the employee will be required to sign an ELA agreeing to repay all or part of the costs of the training should the Employee leave within 12 months of completion or withdraw from a course/programme before they have completed it.  Please refer to 5.1 below. 

14. The level of financial support is dependent on the type of course being undertaken and funding available and may not necessarily cover the full costs.

15. Application for financial assistance towards the cost of training should be made on an annual basis Appendix 1

Responsibilities for staff development

Individual Staff

16. The employee should review their training and development needs with their line manager at the appraisal or at regular reviews during the year. Individuals should take responsibility for arranging the training and evaluating its effectiveness. 

Line Managers

17. Line managers are responsible for helping to identify what development is required to enhance performance at appraisal time and during regular reviews. Any training that has been identified should be recorded in the relevant section on the appraisal review form and recorded in LERS.  Managers should be clear how the training will be funded, monitor that it has taken place and how it has enhanced performance.

Organisational Development

18. HR Organisational Development are responsible for creating a working environment that enables staff to do their best and are available to offer advice on what development is required. 

19. The Organisational Development team provide a range of development activities to support staff and work in collaboration with external training providers to commission and deliver training. Further information can be found on their website.

20. Financial assistance, up to a maximum of £865 for each year of study, is available for staff who meet the eligibility criteria to undertake degree or doctorate programmes, professional qualifications or other nationally approved vocational qualifications.  Further guidance can be found in the Study Assistance Scheme guidelines

Time off for study

21. Paid leave is granted at the discretion of the line manager and the amount of leave permitted should be determined in light of the requirements of study.  Where possible, it is expected that employees will undertake the majority of their studies in their own time e.g. through evening classes or open learning.  Where this is not possible day release will be considered by the faculty/department depending on operational need.

Study leave

22. The amount of paid leave permitted should be determined by the examinations, assessment and methods of study.  For example, this could be one day revision and one day attendance per exam, or one day per module where continuous assessment is undertaken. The maximum number of days should not normally exceed eight in an academic year.

23. Time away from work for study or examinations is discretionary and does not constitute a contractual entitlement.

Repayment of University Funding

24. Where financial assistance has been provided and the employee wishes to withdraw from the course before completion, or leaves the university voluntarily during the course of study, repayment rules will apply as follows:

Point of departure

Repayment terms

Resigning during the course or before the course has commenced but costs have been incurred

100% of that year’s funding

Leaving the university up to 6 months after completing the course

75% of the final year’s university funding

Leaving the university between 6-12 months after completing the course

50% of the final year’s university funding

Leaving the university 12 months after completing the course

No repayment required


25. Completion of the course will be taken from the date the employee sits the last exam or submits their last assignment for the funded year of study, whichever is the later.

26. In certain circumstances, individuals may be exempt from repayment of fees (e.g. illness, redundancy) further guidance can be obtained from the Head of HR.

27. Repayment will be recovered via deduction from the final salary or depending on the circumstances, where the amount repayable is too great to be repaid from the final salary, the university may agree to an alternative method of repayment.