Accessing Centralised Study Budgets


Why is the Study Budget changing?

As trainees, you said: 

  • You were frustrated with the current system for accessing study budgets
  • You had inconsistent and inequitable experiences when applying for study leave and funding which varied across geographical regions and clinical specialties
  • You paid for most of your educational courses/activities personally with expenses infrequently reimbursed
  • Proposed study budget changes to address trainee concerns as part of the initiative ‘Enhancing Junior Doctors’ Working Lives’
  • Removed study leave funding from the tariff fee paid by HEE to NHS Trusts for trainee placements
  • Established management of the study leave budget centrally through its local offices to nationally improve study leave access, educational training and funding support for all trainees.
  • The new HEE managed centralised process will make accessing study leave and study budgets a more transparent, equitable and streamlined process for all trainees.
  • There is a clearer definition of how the study budget should be used to support individual professional development.

What are the benefits of the new process?

  • Covering costs of educational courses/activities that support curriculum attainment
  • Agreement that NHS Trusts will cover costs of all mandatory training required to fulfill the trainee’s clinical role e.g. life support courses, safeguarding training
  • Guidance on what the study budget will not cover e.g. College examination fees
  • Provision of discretionary funding for individualised training opportunities.

Centralised oversight will enable HEE to: 

  • better monitor the courses trainees are attending
  • promote high educational standards for courses
  • consider funding and implementing high quality local courses for the training initiatives in highest demand – reducing trainee costs and improving trainee access to these learning opportunities.


Gold Guide 7th Edition January 2018

The Gold Guide states that access to study leave should form part of the educational contract between Postgraduate Deans and providers of postgraduate medical education. It highlights the Postgraduate Deans’ responsibility to ensure less than full time (LTFT) trainees have equitable access to study leave. The Gold Guide also encourages trainees on career breaks to keep up to date by attending educational events but stipulates that there is no entitlement to study leave funding for this.

Gold Guide 7th Edition January 2018


For information on Supported Return to Training


What is Study Leave and What is it used for?

1. Study leave must be used for the purpose for which it is granted.

2. Study leave includes but is not restricted to participation in: -

  • Courses / education activities to support you achieving the curriculum
  • Study (linked to a course or programme)
  • Taking examinations
  • Attending conferences for educational benefit
  • Rostered training events
  • Exam preparation courses are often funded as historically supported activity but can vary in quality. Preparatory courses may provide better value than training extensions and therefore should continue to be supported
  • Study Leave budgets can also support aspirational activity that is not directly aligned to the curriculum, for example PG Cert Ed
  • Management and leadership skills
  • Aspirational courses that add value to individually and support the wider system
  • Conference fees (Conferences outside of the UK will be agreed on a case by case basis and discussed with the Head of School / DME with approval from the Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education Dean)
  • Travel and subs such as travel to and from exams and payment for courses outside of the UK (not travel). Travel should be the most effective as possible

        Study Leave budgets DO NOT cover:

  • Royal college membership fees Eportfolio fees
  •  Postgraduate exam fees
  • Any statutory or mandatory training required to fulfill your clinical role (this should be provided by your NHS Trust)
  • Travel outside of the UK
  • ARCP attendance and associated expenses

            If you are unclear what can be claimed please check with your Trust Administrator

3. Attending statutory and mandatory training (including any local departmental training) is not counted as study leave. This should be the responsibility of your employer.

4. All requests for study leave ought to be properly considered by the NHS Trust. Any grant of study leave will be subject to the need to maintain NHS services (and, where the doctor is on an integrated academic pathway, academic responsibilities) and must be authorised by the NHS Trust prior to booking a course or study leave time.

5. Study leave up to the limits described in Table 1 will normally be granted flexibly and tailored to individual needs, in accordance with the requirements of the curriculum

Study Leave Allowance (Table 1)


Days Per Annum

Foundation Doctor Year 1


All other Doctors in Training



6. Study leave for Foundation Year 1 doctors will take the form of a regular scheduled teaching/training session as agreed locally.

7. Study leave for doctors at Foundation Year 2 and above will include periods of regular scheduled teaching/training sessions, and may also, with approval from the educational supervisor and service manager, include: -

  • Undertaking an approved external course
  • Periods of sitting (or preparing for) an examination for a higher qualification where it is a requirement of the curriculum.

       Requests for such leave shall be viewed positively in most circumstances, but with a view to ensuring that the needs of service delivery can be safely met.

8. Where a doctor working less than full time is required to undertake a specific training course required by the curriculum, which exceeds the pro rata entitlement to study leave, the employer will make arrangements for additional study leave to be taken, provided that this can be done while ensuring safe delivery of services.

9. Where a doctor takes maternity leave their entitlement to study leave continues, and this may be taken during ‘keeping in touch’ (KIT) days or will otherwise accrue to be taken at a later date

10. LTFT and academic trainees will have equitable access to study leave.


How to apply for study leave?

Trainee Responsibility

  1. Trainees are asked to discuss their personal development plan and educational activities with their Educational Supervisor (ES) or Training Programme Director (TPD)
  2. Trainees should discuss their progress, aspirations and intentions with their supervisor
  3. Complete learning agreement with ES
  4. Register and submit your study leave application in accordance with your employing organisations process
  5. Confirm time off for study leave with the rota coordinator in accordance with local timetables
  6. Obtain approval from your Educational Supervisor who will review the application against curriculum requirements and your personal development plan (PDP)
  7. Where the application is to support aspirational activity this may need to be supported by your Head of School and Training Programme Director and aligned to your PDP. Aspirational courses are only part funded. 
  8. Update e-Portfolio with evidence of attendance after event
  9. Submit expense claim to DME/Postgraduate manager within 6 weeks of course attendance (and no later than 3 months). Submissions should be made to your employing NHS Trust. Late submissions may result in your claim not being reimbursed Link to payments
  10.  Please inform Postgraduate Centre if course is cancelled
  11. Please note: Funds will not be paid prosepecively and reimbursement will apply as above

All Applications for both absence to undertake study leave and educational approval of the intended activity should be submitted at Trust level


Educational Supervisor Responsibility

  1. Discuss personal development and study leave plans with trainee
  2. Clarify appropriate courses/educational activities to support curriculum attainment Link to course guidance
  3. Financial support for discretionary activity must be considered if the trainee has met the core curriculum requirements and can demonstrate that the support required will allow them to fulfill their potential, facilitate career development and meet potential employer requirements. Discussion and clarification can be sought from Training Programme Director or Head of School as appropriate.
  4. In considering any application the Educational Supervisor should assess whether the request is aligned to the trainee’s PDP. The Educational Supervisor (ES) and Training Programme Director (TPD) should be aware of aspirations and performance to assess whether the request is aligned to the trainee PDP.
  5. If the ES is supportive the TPD or HoS should be approached to make the final decision.
  6. Authorise study leave in timely manner within 2 weeks of application receipt 

Head of School and TPD Responsibilities

  1. To offer advise and clarification in regard to applications for aspirational activity that have been raised with Educational Supervisor
  2. Training Programme Directors or Head of School should make the final decision regarding applications for aspirational activity (if the Educational Supervisor has supported the application)


HEE Responsibilities

  1. To ensure probity of expenditure and approval is applied equitably.


Other Responsibilities

  • Colleges, Specialty Advisory Committees and Faculties should describe expected capabilities and outcomes but not mandate generic or specific courses. High quality locally delivered activity is preferred where possible.
  • Colleges, Specialty Advisory Committees and Faculties should recommend a range of educational activities or courses that could be grouped around specific themes aligned to the curriculum that will help Schools maximise the resource.
  • Colleges and local education providers may play a role in delivering courses aligned to the curriculum.
  • The curriculum revision process is an opportunity to review how curriculum outcomes are delivered and what out-of-placement activities should be supported to achieve those outcomes. Master’s degrees require consideration.
  • Principles should be applied across specialties with the understanding that some specialties will require a greater proportion of the budget than others and that some curriculum stages will require a greater proportion of the budget than others.
  • Delivery of curricula objectives based on individual requirements is the primary consideration.
  • A good educational activity or course is aligned to the curriculum, receives positive feedback from trainees and faculty and offers value for money.
  • Heads of Schools could improve efficiency by delivering local training where possible and release resource to reinvest in aspirational activity.
  • Data on current activity should be mapped against curricula to ensure that funds are utilised correctly. This will be essential to delivering quality educational activity that meets trainee and local needs.
  • Management and leadership skills development should normally be supported


Aspirational Courses

Study leave requests may be approved subject to Head of School agreement in the first instance and providing they are required as part of the training programme to achieve CCT. Courses which are not curriculum specific are deemed to be Aspirational. A contribution towards the cost of the course will be considered by Health Education England.

Eligibility for funding for Aspirational courses

  1. Discretionary funding is available to trainees for courses/activities which add value to the individual and support the wider system. If a trainee plans to apply for this to avoid disappointment, please ensure you discuss this early with your ES/TPD and ensure you have achieved your required curriculum and competencies to support your application. A trainee will also need to ensure that the Head of School approves your request. Funding for such courses is at the discretion of HEE after having taking into consideration the rationale for the application. HEE will then support a contribution of either 50% of course fees or up to £1000 per course, per academic year. Reimbursement of travel and accommodation will remain the same as it would in other circumstances.
  2. Study Leave support for Aspirational activities can be considered for trainees who have attained their core curriculum competencies and received an ARCP 1 or are on track to do so if they are in their first year.