Accessing Centralised Study Budgets

A guide for trainees

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

In response, Health Education England (HEE) did the following: 

  • 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.

What are the benefits of the new process?

  • 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.

        This includes: 

  1.  Covering costs of educational courses/activities that support curriculum attainment
  2. 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
  3. Guidance on what the study budget will not cover e.g. College examination fees
  4. 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.

GP Trainees

All GP Study leave should go through patch administrator / programme manager.

Gold Guide 6th Edition 20161

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.


Terms and Conditions of Service for NHS Doctors and Dentists in Training (England) 20162

The terms and conditions related to study leave are covered in Schedule 9 and state the following: 

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: -

  • Study (linked to a course or programme)
  • Research
  • Teaching
  • Taking examinations
  • Attending conferences for educational benefit
  • Rostered training events

3. Attending statutory and mandatory training (including any local departmental training) is not counted as study leave.

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



Days Per Annum

Foundation Doctor Year 1


All other Doctors in Training


Table 1: Study Leave allowance for trainees. (absence authorisation subject to local agreement)


5. Study leave up to the limits described in Table 1 below will normally be granted flexibly and tailored to individual needs, in accordance with the requirements of the curriculum. Requests for study leave in excess of these limits should be considered fairly where circumstances indicate such requests to be reasonable, and may be granted by the employer provided that the needs of service delivery can be safely met.

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’ days or will otherwise accrue to be taken at a later date.

References :

A Reference Guide for Postgraduate Specialty Training in the UK, The Gold Guide, Sixth Edition 

2 Terms and Conditions of Service for NHS Doctors and Dentists in Training (England) 2016, Version 2, 30 March 2017  



How to apply for study leave?

  • Trainees are asked to discuss their personal development plan and educational activities with their Educational Supervisor (ES) or Training Programme Director (TPD)
  • Trainees should discuss their progress, aspirations and intentions with their supervisor
  • Complete learning agreement with ES
  • Register with electronic system (TIS) if available to submit study leave applications
  • Confirm time off for study leave with the rota coordinator in accordance with local timetables
  • Obtain approval from your Educational Supervisor who will review the application against curriculum requirements and your personal development plan (PDP)
  • Where the application is to support aspirational activity this will need to be supported by your Educational Supervisor and aligned to your PDP. Part-funding may be considered; however, approval must be sought from the TPD or HoS.
  • Update e-Portfolio with evidence of attendance after event
  • Submit expense claim to DME/Postgraduate manager within 6 weeks of course attendance (and no later than 3 months)
  •  Please inform Postgraduate Centre if course is cancelled

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



Educational Supervisor

  • Discuss personal development and study leave plans with trainee
  • Clarify appropriate courses/educational activities to support curriculum attainment
  • Financial support for discretionary activity will only 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.
  • Study Leave budgets can also support aspirational activity that is not directly aligned to the curriculum . In considering any application the Educational Supervisor should assess whether the request is aligned to the trainee’s PDP and be aware of their performance and aspirations. If the ES is supportive the TPD or HoS should be approached to make the final decision.
  • Authorise study leave in timely manner within 2 weeks of application receipt 

Approved Activities

  • 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 2020 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.
  • It is essential that courses are quality assured.

Principles that constitute quality training activity

  • 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


Approach to historically supported activities

  • 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.

LTFT and Academic trainees

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


Aspirational Courses

Study leave requests may be approved subject to Head of School agreement in the first instance and providing they are aligned with curriculum requirements, i.e. 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 at the discretion of Health Education England.

Eligibility for funding for aspirational courses

Discretionary funding is available to trainees for courses/activities which add value to the individual and support the wider system. If you plan to apply for this to avoid disappointment please ensure you discuss this early with your ES/TPD and make sure you have achieved your required curriculum and competencies to support your application. You 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 toward a course. Reimbursement of travel and accommodation will remain the same as it would in other circumstances.

Supporting aspirational courses that are not directly aligned to the curriculum

  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • For activities that represent aspirational activity, part-funding may be considered – reflecting both HEE and the trainee’s commitment to their enrichment. The TPD or the HoS will make this decision. HEE will need to know if this is considered an aspirational course and if there are any queries as to whether funding will be forthcoming it is advisable for the HoS or TPD to discuss this with HEE. Please use the Study Leave email for this.
  • HEE funding of postgraduate diplomas and degrees must be rationalised by an established link to the curriculum and a commitment that the qualification will be integral to the doctor’s future career.
  • HEE Southwest will, if the above is recognised in whole, contribute a payment towards the cost of the course. This will be either 50% of the course fee OR up to £1000 of the total cost of the course (no more than £1000) per academic year. Please note: Funds will not be paid prospectively and reimbursement will apply as above.


What can be included in your claim?

Study Leave budgets DO cover:

  • Courses / education activities to support you achieving the curriculum Courses to help you prepare for postgraduate exams
  • Management and leadership skills
  • Discretionary courses that add value to individually and support the wider system
  • Conference fees
  • 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

*Conferences outside of the UK will be agreed on a case by case basis and discussed with the Head of School / DME.

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

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

Please note study leave claims should be made within 6 weeks of the course and no later than 3 months. Submissions should be made to your employing trust. Late submissions may result in your claim not being reimbursed


Any further questions?

Questions Specific to Specialty / Course


If you still have a query please contact: Peninsula Study Leave