Academic Workloads Guidelines

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  1. The Academic Workloads Guidelines forms part of both the University Teaching and Learning Plan and University Research Plan. Its purpose is to support academic staff and enhance quality in teaching, supervision, research, and effective and efficient academic service by setting out a University academic workload model that results in equitable, fair, transparent and safe workloads for staff.


  1. Terms used in these guidelines are defined in the Glossary (Appendix 1).


  1. These guidelines should be read by academic staff in the context of their position description, the relevant employment agreement, and the relevant University criteria for promotion/advancement.
  2. These guidelines should be applied on the basis of the University operating under a 45 week full time equivalent working year.


  1. Most academic staff are expected to carry out a combination of teaching (including supervision), research and service/administration, all of which are highly valued.
  2. Academic workloads may vary among staff, depending in each case on the staff member's employment agreement, position level, position description, revenue generation, discipline and faculty, and may vary for a staff member of the course of a given period. The varying requirements of different teaching technologies will also influence academic workloads.
  3. Unless specified in position descriptions, a 40/40/20 allocation is suggested as a workload norm for individual academic staff. This norm is to be treated flexibly since allocations may be dependent upon factors such as the professional requirements of a faculty and staff wanting to perform to their strengths. Workload allocations are to be agreed annually by the the academic staff member and their chairperson/head of department/school in conjunction with the approval of paper offerings and as part of Professional Goal Setting (PGS). This allocation is based on the following definitions:
    • 40% teaching includes postgraduate teaching but may or may not include postgraduate research supervision which attracts Research Degree Completion (RDC) funding; and
    • 40% research which may or may not include postgraduate supervision which attracts Research Degree Completion (RDC) funding; and
    • 20% for administration/service inclusive of professional development.
    Flexibility needs to apply in deciding whether supervision which attracts Research Degree Completion (RDC) funding be included under an academic staff member's teaching allocation or research allocation, or some combination thereof, dependent on factors such as specific disciplinary practices, whether a student's topic aligns with the supervisor's research interests, and potential for co-publishing with students. Allocation of supervision as teaching and/or research should be agreed annually by the academic staff member and their chairperson/head of department/school as part of Professional Goal Setting (PGS).
  4. It is expected that individuals will normally achieve this proportionality of 40/40/20 as an average over six years unless prescribed otherwise in a position description.
  5. The likely composition of workloads for individual staff is expected to be confirmed by November of each year. Workload allocations will be finalised when student enrolments are known.
  6. Academic staff on comparable employment agreements at comparable levels of seniority should have comparable workloads. Part-time staff and staff members on fixed-term appointments should have workloads that are equitable relative to full-time staff.


  1. Using the workload norm set out in clause 7 as a guide, Deans are responsible for establishing principles and processes for allocating academic workloads in their respective faculties. Each Dean should communicate those principles and processes clearly and transparently to all staff in their faculty.
  2. Responsibility for allocating the workloads of individual academic staff within a faculty rests with the relevant chairperson/head of department/school as appropriate.
  3. In planning individual academic workload allocations, chairpersons/heads of department/school should, as far as possible, take account of department/school plans with respect to study leave, annual leave and participation in cultural activities and events (including any contributions associated with the University's commitments under Te Tiriti o Waitangi). They should also ensure that allocations are flexible enough to allow for unexpected absences such as sick leave.
  4. Regular periods of study leave should be considered the norm for research active staff and should be allowed for in workload planning. In years where a period of study leave is approved, this could be considered to significantly contribute to, but not fully constitute, the research allocation for that year only. In programmes and areas of expertise where study leave is only able to be taken less frequently, chairpersons/heads of department/school should make efforts to compensate through granting sufficient research days within the regular academic schedule.
  5. Chairpersons/heads of department/school should take all practicable steps to ensure that academic workloads are reasonable and manageable so that staff can maintain an appropriate work/life balance and physical and mental wellbeing is not endangered.
  6. The individual staff member and the relevant programme convenor, chairperson/head of department/school should discuss the staff member's workload as part of the annual Professional Goal Setting (PGS) process for the subsequent 1-3 year period with a view to reaching agreement between them.
  7. If the workload allocation cannot be agreed between the  staff member and the relevant chairperson/head of department/school, the matter should be referred to the relevant Dean for resolution.
  8. Academic workload allocations should be transparent and shared within the department/school and faculty.
  9. Deans are responsible for monitoring academic workload allocations in their respective faculties to ensure that they are appropriate and equitable overall, and to ensure that they are adhered to in practice.
  10. The effectiveness of these guidelines and associated practice with respect to the allocation and management of academic workloads across the University will be reviewed every three years by the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor in consultation with the Deans; the process for the review and for reporting with any recommendations to the Vice-Chancellor will be determined at the time.

Approved by the Vice-Chancellor
27 October 2015

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