If your Aspirational study leave is held outside of the UK, please refer to the International Study Leave page.

Please follow the guidance on claiming for Aspirational Study Leave below and follow the link to the right for the Aspirational Study Leave Application form. Please submit to your Trust on completion.


Guidance on Aspirational Study Leave

The GMC has made clear within its Generic Professional Capabilities (GPCs) framework2 that fitness to practise data shows that most concerns about doctors’ performance fall into one or more of the nine GPC domains.
Traditional funding of study leave was mapped to domains 1 (professional values and behaviours) and 2 (professional skills). Given the GMC now requires all curricula to be revised and re-approved by 2020 in order to meet the standards set out in Promoting Excellence3, and contain the GPCs, this training can no longer be considered aspirational but core aspects of training.
HEE Deans have agreed that:
• Educational or professional development activities mapping to the above is no longer called ‘aspirational’. Going forward, aspirational study leave should be granted for: ‘educational or professional development opportunities that enhances the knowledge, skills and attitudes of the doctor in training, or enhances any aspect of patient care, but is not mapped to any direct curriculum requirements’.
• That study leave is granted dependent on the needs of the trainee to fulfil the curriculum. This is not dependent on the previous ARCP outcome.
Given that best practice in many specialties is now shared at European and global meetings, the lack of ability to attend international courses/conferences may hamper advancing of medical knowledge and service development. This may also have the unintended consequence of preventing quality improvement within the NHS.
For these special aspirational circumstances, HEE Deans have agreed that:
• One international conference/meeting, providing all other curriculum requirements are met, will be considered for each doctor in training for any one programme, which can be defined as Foundation, Core, Higher or otherwise every three years (so as not to disadvantage doctors on a run-through programme).
• The educational supervisor should be aware of aspirations and performance to assess whether the request is aligned to the trainee’s personal development plan, which may contain items in addition to curriculum requirements.
• Reasonable adjustments and consideration of individual circumstances must be given for aspirational study leave applications (including international) from trainees with protected characteristics.
• For such activities, part-funding may be considered reflecting both HEE and the trainee’s commitment to their enrichment.
• HEE funding of postgraduate diplomas, certificates and degrees must be rationalised by an established link to the curriculum or a commitment that the qualification will be integral to the doctor’s future career.

• If an external body such as a Medical Royal College suggests a doctor in training attends an international conference where not already required by their curriculum, in such circumstances, HEE expects that body to contribute at least 50% of the costs.


Once appeals mechanisms have been used, the decision of the local Postgraduate dean remains final.


Page last updated 27th January 2021