Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Human Resources
Authoring Organisational Unit
Human Resources - Central Unit
Date Approved
24/03/2015 Revised 03/05/2017
Next Review Date
Approving Body
Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor And Registrar

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The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Academic Sabbatical

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

This policy defines the nature and purpose of Sabbatical, setting out the eligibility criteria, qualifying service and accumulation, approval process and financial support.

This policy also outlines the requirement to enter into a Sabbatical Contract before proceeding on Sabbatical, which includes a return of service to the University equivalent to the length of the Sabbatical.

More information about academic sabbatical can be found at Academic Sabbatical.

This policy does not apply to casuals.


"Continuous Service" means any period of full time or fractional service given in accordance with the contract of employment without a break or with a break not exceeding a period of two weeks.

"Dependent Child" means either a child under 16 years of age who has no separate net taxable income and who is normally dependent on the employee, or a child 16 to 18 years who is undergoing full time education and is normally dependent on the employee. The age is taken as the age at the time of departure. A travelling allowance for adult dependents with a disability will be considered favourably on application.

"Employee" means a person employed by the University who has an ongoing or fixed term contract under the terms of the Academic Staff Agreement (as amended or replaced from time to time).

"Fractional" means part time employment which is less than full time with salary being paid as a percentage of a full time salary.

"Other sources of funding" means the monetary value of all income, earnings or assistance (including salaries, stipends, consulting fees, grants, travel awards and other emoluments) received in respect of the approved Sabbatical and travel from sources inside and outside the University.

"SDVC" means the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

"University" means The University of Western Australia.

1. Principles

12. Appeal of Decisions

2. Authority

13. Travel & Financial Support


14. Other Sources of Funding

3. Eligibility To Apply

15. Variations to Proposed Program

4. Criteria


5. Rate of Accumulation

16. Return of Service

6. Length of Absence

17. Sabbatical Report

7. Other Leave


8. Insurance

18. Faculty Panel

9. Audit Requirements

19. Central Panel


10. The Application

11. The Approval

Policy statement:

1 Principles

1.1 Sabbatical is a significant strategic investment by the University enabling release from regular duties to pursue key areas of academic activity that contribute to the School and Faculty strategy, and are aligned with the University strategic direction. It provides the opportunity -

  • to maintain and improve teaching skills and scholarship, undertake research, creative work or clinical innovation; and
  • for active collaboration with the best in the academic's field globally while developing and expanding industry, research and community linkages in Australia and internationally.

1.2 Sabbatical is a benefit that may be offered to eligible staff who meet the criteria when circumstances permit. Sabbatical is not to be regarded as an entitlement as it is a privilege conveyed upon academic staff. Approval is conditional upon a high quality proposal which is aligned with University strategy, the employee's development goals and stage of career; and the operational needs and resourcing of the Faculty.

1.3 Approval is not to be considered automatic even when the applicant satisfies the eligibility requirements and/or at the end of each qualifying period.

1.4 The approved Sabbatical will be at a time which causes the least disruption to the academic activities of the School and Faculty.

1.5 Encouragement is given to applications that facilitate the release of staff with significant teaching responsibilities and/or facilitate the enhanced development of female and/or early career academic staff.

2 Authority

2.1 The final authority to approve applications and financial support rests with the SDVC or Nominee, who will normally delegate authority for approval to Faculty Deans for all applications that are entirely consistent with this policy. Any cases involving a departure from the normal provisions of the Sabbatical Policy are referred to the SDVC or nominee.

2.2 In exceptional circumstances the SDVC or nominee may approve a variation from the criteria and conditions for Sabbatical set out in this policy, provided the exception is in the interests of the University.

General Conditions Governing Sabbaticals

3 Eligibility to Apply

3.1 All employees appointed on teaching and research (T&R) contracts on either continuing or fixed term appointments, including those with fractional appointments of at least 50%, are eligible to apply for a period of Sabbatical, subject to meeting the conditions of this Policy.

3.1.1 Provided fixed term contracts of employment extend beyond the period of Sabbatical by at least an equivalent period to ensure sufficient time for the required return of service to the University.

3.1.2 Employees with fractional appointments of less than 50% may be considered eligible at the SDVC or nominee's discretion.

3.2 Employees may incorporate postgraduate study to complete a higher degree with the approval of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).

3.3 Normally employees who are teaching intensive or appointed on research-intensive contracts will not be eligible for Sabbatical. However a case can be made by the Dean to the satisfaction of the SDVC or nominee.

3.3.1 Faculties are responsible for ensuring that teaching intensive and research intensive staff who are ineligible to apply for Sabbatical have access to appropriate professional development opportunities.

3.3.2 When applicable, any case for research-intensive academics can only be considered if Sabbatical is permitted under the funding rules of the funding agency.

3.4 Employees whose employment category changes from research intensive to teaching and research will begin Sabbatical qualifying service from the date of commencement or resumption to a teaching and research role.

3.5 A Head of School, Dean or other academics who have moved to a fixed term appointment as Head of School, Dean or another senior management role cannot take Sabbatical unless specifically approved by the SDVC or nominee, who may agree and approve a period of Sabbatical at the completion of the fixed term contract, based on calculation of accumulation during the senior management role.

3.6 Professional staff who meet the required levels of research activity (at Level 10 Grade 4 or above), or whose salary is tied to an academic salary, are referred to University Policy: Further Education for Employees.

4 Criteria

4.1 Applications will be submitted under one of two categories -

A. Teaching

Gaining skills, knowledge, application and/or practice in teaching, curriculum, assessment or use of Interactive Learning Technologies to improve student learning outcomes and students' experience.

B. Research and scholarly activity

  • Pursuit of research and innovation; and/or
  • General scholarship.

4.2 Employees intending to apply for Sabbatical under the categories of -

  • "Teaching"; or
  • "Research and scholarly activity" (for staff who do not satisfy the Faculty's criteria for 'research active'),

will need to have measurable objectives for the Sabbatical set and agreed during Performance and Development Appraisal (PDA) and Interim Academic Meetings, commensurate to opportunity provided by workload. Objectives set will be specific and tailored to the individual. Objectives for early career academics (within the first five years) will be modest, measurable and relative to workload. Eligibility, criteria and the set objectives must be achieved before applying for Sabbatical.

4.3 Minimum ratings in all categories of the most recent PDA, to have been undertaken no more than twelve months before applying, must demonstrate that the employee "Meets the University's High Expectations". An extract from the most current PDA (Table of Specific Assessment) should be attached to the application for Sabbatical.

4.4 The employee will not, at the time of applying for the proposed Sabbatical -

  • have ceased to accrue long service leave (LSL) as a consequence of not clearing LSL within 5 years of accrual, and/or
  • have a projected annual leave accrual in excess of 8 weeks at the date of commencing Sabbatical.

4.4.1 Any consideration for approval in these circumstances will require a leave plan (agreed between the employee and their Head of School) to be finalised and included with the application before it is considered by the Faculty Review Panel. The leave plan will reduce leave balances to clear the LSL accrual (see 7.2 of this policy) and/or reduce the annual leave balance to below 8 weeks.

4.5 Before proceeding on Sabbatical, the employee will sign and submit an undertaking to return to service at the University equivalent to the proposed period of Sabbatical.

4.6 A detailed report has been accepted by the Dean from any previous period of Sabbatical, confirming objectives were achieved.

5 Rate of Accumulation

5.1 Sabbatical qualifying period accumulates at a rate equivalent to 26 weeks after three years of continuous service.

5.2 In exceptional circumstances approval by the SDVC or nominee for a 52 week accumulation (six years of continuous service) may be sought (see 6.2 of this policy).

5.3 Qualifying service will commence from the date of -

  • Appointment; or
  • Return from previous Sabbatical (when the Sabbatical report has been submitted and accepted within three months of return); or
  • Receipt of a Sabbatical report (which has been submitted and accepted more than three months after return from previous Sabbatical).

5.4 Sabbatical will in no circumstances be approved prior to completion of three years' service at the University.

5.5 When Sabbatical is approved by the SDVC or nominee for two or three separate periods (see Clause 6.5 below), any further application will be considered three years after return from the last of those separate periods.

5.6 Long service leave, annual recreation leave, personal leave and paid parental leave count as qualifying service for Sabbatical, and Sabbatical counts as qualifying service for those leave categories.

5.7 Sabbatical eligibility does not accumulate during any period of leave without pay exceeding two weeks or absence on Sabbatical.

5.8 Prior service at another university (gained in an appointment which specified eligibility for Sabbatical) may be recognised for the first period of Sabbatical at the University. Recognition will be at the discretion of the Dean and should be agreed at the time of appointment. Service recognised by the previous university will not be recognised again.

The rate of pay during the period of Sabbatical will be maintained at the salary rate pertaining to the FTE of the employee at the time of commencing Sabbatical. Double or half pay will not be approved.

6 Length of Absence

Academic staff may proceed on a maximum of 26 weeks Sabbatical after three years of continuous service.

6.1 Approval of 39 weeks Sabbatical (after 4.5 years of continuous service) may be approved if the Sabbatical is combined with long service leave (LSL). That is, the total period of absence is twelve months comprising nine months (39 weeks) Sabbatical together with three months long service leave.

6.2 Approval of 52 weeks (after six years of continuous service) may be considered by the SDVC or nominee when -

  • The intrinsic nature of the project requires more than six months; and/or
  • The employee has held a senior management position (e.g. Dean, Head) and needs to redevelop research and scholarship.

6.3 Sabbatical will be approved as a single absence to release an employee from regular teaching and administrative duties. The program will not extend beyond one semester (together with associated University vacations) and will not impinge on two teaching semesters unless the Sabbatical is for 9 or 12 months.

6.4 A lesser period of three months may be granted to Clinical Academics on recommendation of the Dean and approval of the SDVC or nominee. Periods of less than three months will not normally be approved in any circumstances.

6.5 Any periods of Sabbatical which differ from the standards described above, including Sabbatical in two or three separate periods, will require approval of the SDVC or nominee.

7 Other Leave

7.1 Annual Recreation Leave

Annual recreation leave forms part of the Sabbatical period. Employees are required to indicate on the Sabbatical Proposal Form the period of annual recreation leave to be cleared. Minimum periods of annual leave to be cleared during Sabbatical are 10 days for a 26 week Sabbatical and 20 days for a 52 week Sabbatical.

7.2 Long Service Leave

Other than the nine month Sabbatical option (referred to in 6.1 above), applications for long service leave to be taken in conjunction with six months Sabbatical will take into consideration the School's capacity to cover workloads and confirmation that the required combined absence will not cause undue inconvenience for the School. Staff are required to indicate on the Sabbatical Proposal Form the period of long service leave to be cleared in association with Sabbatical.

Note that there may be FBT implications if the Sabbatical and the LSL are taken overseas. It is the responsibility of the employee to seek advice on this issue.

7.3 Personal Leave

Where an employee is ill for a period of at least 20 consecutive working days while on Sabbatical, the employee may, with the approval of the SDVC or nominee, be granted (at a time convenient to the School) additional Sabbatical equivalent to the period of illness. The period of illness must be supported by medical evidence that the employee was confined to their place of residence or a hospital.

8 Insurance

Staff members are covered by workers' compensation insurance and the University's corporate travel insurance while on Sabbatical. For further information, and arrangement of any additional insurance, please refer to the Staff corporate travel insurance website.

9 Audit Requirements

All Sabbatical arrangements are subject to normal internal audit procedures.


10 The Application

10.1 The application should be a substantive written case for Sabbatical, providing sufficient detail to enable an assessment of its quality alongside the contribution of the proposed activities against the Faculty and University strategic priorities.

10.2 Applications are submitted through a Faculty Panel chaired by the Dean for assessment, ranking and approval.

10.3 Applications for Sabbatical are to be submitted before the end of April in the year preceding the taking of Sabbatical.

10.4 Applications for Sabbatical which do not include a travel component will demonstrate that proposed activities cannot be undertaken at the University.

10.5 Applications for Sabbatical which include a travel component will demonstrate that the Sabbatical cannot be carried out as effectively in Perth.

10.6 Employees are encouraged to disclose relevant personal circumstances, including constraints on time or options available, working arrangements and career histories that may have reduced their opportunities to achieve measurable outputs. Circumstances that are not disclosed by the employee will not be included in the assessment of Achievement Relative to Opportunity.

11 The Approval

11.1 Each Faculty Sabbatical Panel will convene before the end of June each year to consider all applications received for the following year and make recommendations to the Faculty Dean.

11.2 The Dean may approve applications, on the recommendation of the Panel, which conform to the provisions of the Sabbatical Policy. Any applications which include a departure from the provisions of the Sabbatical Policy are to be referred to the SDVC or nominee for approval with the Dean's support, demonstrating why the departure from policy is in the best interests of the University.

11.3 Priority may be given to approved applications from the previous round which could not be granted because of Faculty and/or School requirements, from early career researchers and from employees who have provided a statement for evaluation of Achievement Relative to Opportunity.

11.3.1 The process of evaluating achievement relative to opportunity should be transparent and applied fairly in relation to each eligible employee. Information about the evaluation process should be available to employees. The Panel may specify how employees might best present their Achievement Relative to Opportunity statement, and information about the specifications should be made available to all employees seeking assessment by the Panel.

Employees are not compelled to disclose the details of personal circumstances. However, should an employee choose to disclose personal circumstances and request confidentiality, that information should be managed by the person receiving that information in accordance with the University's records management practices and policies. This information should not be disclosed without the consent of the employee.

12 Appeal of Decisions

An unsuccessful applicant may appeal to the SDVC or nominee on the grounds that the decision of the Faculty Sabbatical Panel and Dean was based on an improper assessment process. The SDVC or nominee will convene an ad-hoc appeal panel, which will include either the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) or Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education), to advise on such an appeal. The decision of the SDVC or nominee will be final.

13 Travel and Financial Support

13.1 Any member of academic staff undertaking an approved Sabbatical that involves travel outside Western Australia may be eligible for a travel grant to assist with travel, accommodation and meal expenses in relation to the Sabbatical. Applicants will need to establish that the proposed location(s) is contingent to the success of the Sabbatical and is well suited to the academic activities to be undertaken.

13.2 The grant may be taxed or non-taxed - refer to 13.8 below.

13.3 The grant will not normally be provided more than once every three years.

13.4 Financial support for travel during Sabbatical is subject to annual review.

13.5 In accordance with the University Travel Policy, all travel associated with a Sabbatical should be arranged through the University Travel Providers. The following information must be recorded on the Travel Requisitioning System -

  • the travel forms part of a Sabbatical; and
  • the travel is self-funded. Self-funded for the purposes of this clause means the academic will be paying for the travel themselves (having received a Sabbatical Grant which contributes to the costs of travel). Faculties and Schools will not fund air travel or accommodation, irrespective of the source of the funding.

13.6 A Travel Diary is to be maintained by the employee in accordance with the University Travel Policy.

13.7 Details are to be included in the application where an external organisation is booking and paying for air travel and/or accommodation, and in the case of air travel the traveller is required to submit a travel requisition within the Travel Requisitioning System for approval. For any changes to itineraries or emergency travel, the itinerary or e-ticket must be emailed to from the traveller's verified UWA email address to be captured for risk management and tracking purposes.

13.8 Travel Grants

Employees must elect for the grant to be taxed or non-taxed prior to payment being made, depending on whether the employee intends accessing additional funding as outlined in 13.8.2 below. Once the grant has been paid, there will be no retrospective adjustment or repayment of the grant. If doubt exists about access to additional funding at the time of grant payment, staff should consider electing a taxed payment to ensure ability to use additional funding whilst on sabbatical.

13.8.1 Non-taxed Grant

While on Sabbatical, having received a non-taxed grant, the following payment methods are excluded -

Any additional work related expenses cannot be reimbursed.

Note that these exclusions do not apply in regard to other special purpose grants which are funds restricted for a special activity or project, where activities while on Sabbatical directly link to the activity or project funding.

13.8.2 Taxed Grant

Where the employee elects to receive a taxed grant, the University will withhold tax on the grant according to PAYG withholding rules.

While on Sabbatical, having received a taxed grant, the following is permissible:

  • Additional funding from the employee's operating funds (includes Consultancy and ARC funds) by way of reimbursement through submission of receipts through Financial Services. These funds may only be used for legitimate work-related expenses such as conference fees and publications.
  • An Expense Benefit Declaration Form needs to be completed and forwarded to the Tax team in Financial Services.

13.8.3 Employees may elect not to apply for Sabbatical grant. If no grant is paid the employee may seek faculty approval for funding from other sources and/or reimbursement of legitimate work-related travel costs and expenses (such as conference fees while on sabbatical).

13.9 Partners and dependents

13.9.1 If the employee is accompanied by a partner and/or dependent children, an additional allowance may be paid if -

  • The partner and/or dependent children are not entitled to another grant for sabbatical from the University or another institution; or
  • The partner and/or dependent children accompanying the employee are with the employee for at least fifty (50) per cent of each overseas absence of the employee.

13.9.2 The following additional allowances will apply:

  • For a partner, 25% of the total travel grant applicable to the employee, pro-rated per day away with a cap, and/or;
  • For each dependent child, 12.5% of the total travel grant applicable to the employee, pro-rated per day away with a cap.

14 Other Sources of Funding

14.1 Internal Funding

Other than the exception at 13.8.1. above, faculties are not permitted to top up Sabbatical payments with operating funds including, but not limited to, allowances or reimbursements of Sabbatical expenditure.

14.2 External Funding

External funding is funding from sources outside the University, ie payments from national or international Universities or other relevant companies, who may choose to fund the employee whilst on Sabbatical. Funding may include payments for living expenses while working at a location away from home whilst on Sabbatical.

14.2.1 Academics are encouraged to seek additional sources of funding to enhance the Sabbatical. When other sources of funding are received, a statement of earnings is required as part of the Sabbatical report. The expenditure of all such funds must satisfy the requirements of the Financial Management Act 2007 (FMA) and be in accordance with the University finance policies and procedures manual and the University Policy for Professional and Consultative Work.

14.2.2 If an employee receives, prior to or while on Sabbatical, grants from sources other than the University, the SDVC or nominee has the discretion to require that a proportion of those funds be used to offset any financial assistance paid to them by the University. This proportion would normally be whatever funds were in excess of the cost of the additional activities for which they were intended.

14.2.3 All additional income other than salary and financial assistance paid by the University must be declared when making the declaration required under Clause 17.1.4.

14.2.4 If external funds are received by the University, these funds are to be disbursed through the Human Resources payroll system in the same manner as the payment of the Sabbatical travel grant.

15 Variations to Proposed Sabbatical Program

No major changes to the Sabbatical program can be made while on Sabbatical without approval.

15.1 Applications for any minor variations to the approved Sabbatical proposal must be supported by the Head of School and approved by the Dean.

15.2 A significant variation to the approved Sabbatical will be forwarded through the Dean, with recommendations, to the SDVC or nominee for consideration and approval.

15.3 Any variation outside the scope of this Policy must be approved by the SDVC or nominee prior to departure.

Minor Variations include:

- Change of start and end dates of Sabbatical, which fall within the approved semester;

- Change of location to similar type location within same country (e.g. University of California to Harvard University);

- Inclusion of visits to additional institutions and countries.

Significant Variations include:

- Change of start and end dates of Sabbatical, which fall outside the approved semester;

- Substitution of approved principal activity for a different activity;

- Substitution of location to another country;

- Substitution of different type of institution (i.e. Industrial rather than Tertiary);

- Cancellation of proportion of program.


16 Return of Service

16.1 Staff are required to provide a return of service to the University equivalent to the length of the Sabbatical. Sabbatical will not be granted to a member of academic staff who is unable to meet this condition.

16.2 Except in the case of death or incapacity, a staff member who has been granted and taken Sabbatical and who fails to comply with Clause 15 (variation to the program) or the return of service requirement, shall be required to reimburse the University the amount of:

  • the Sabbatical grant; and
  • the salary equivalent to the return to service shortfall - i.e., the difference between the length of the return to work and the total period of the Sabbatical taken.

16.3 The SDVC or nominee may waive or vary this requirement.

17 Sabbatical Report

Individuals returning from a Sabbatical are required to:

  • Prepare a comprehensive Sabbatical Report for the Dean and Faculty Panel, within three months of the end of the Sabbatical period; and
  • Make a presentation to colleagues and/or students.


The Sabbatical Report should refer to the following:-

- List the principal activity of the Sabbatical under one of the following headings:-

a) Category A : Teaching

b) Category B : Research and scholarly activity

- Details of places and institutions visited

- Outline of work carried out on Sabbatical, including work carried out during the Perth portion of the absence

- Outline the outcomes of the Sabbatical and their contribution to the teaching and/or research work of the individual and the School/Faculty, including any publications resulting from the research.

The Sabbatical Report should demonstrate two or more of the following outcomes -

Category A: Teaching

- Tertiary teaching experience with relevant and applicable outcomes.

- Development of innovative applications of Interactive Learning Technologies.

- Relevant teaching with demonstrable opportunities to improve students' learning outcomes and students' experience.

- Development of innovative teaching approach, assessment or curriculum design.

- New publications based on teaching scholarship.

Category B: Research and Scholarly Activity

- Strong cross-disciplinary and/or collaborative research with demonstrable outcomes

- New publications that meet ERA criteria of excellence

- New research grant applications

- Creative works that meet ERA criteria for excellence

- Development of a relevant new field of research or scholarship

17.1 The Report

The Sabbatical Report should provide sufficient detail to enable judgement of the success of the Sabbatical and an evaluation of whether it has led to a development, maintenance or improvement of work related skills, knowledge and competencies.

17.1.1 The Head of School will provide written comments on the extent to which the stated objectives have been achieved. The Report will be forwarded to the Faculty Sabbatical Panel. Employees may be asked to resubmit if their Report is considered unsatisfactory.

17.1.2 Report outcomes will impact upon approval for subsequent Sabbaticals. Upon acceptance of the Report by the Dean (based on the recommendations of the Faculty Sabbatical Panel), the Report will be forwarded to Human Resources for placement on the personal file. A copy is to be retained by the Faculty office and to be made available via the University's eLibrary.

17.1.3 Qualifying service for future Sabbaticals will commence from the date of return from Sabbatical. If the Report is received more than three months after return from Sabbatical, the accumulation period will commence from date of receipt of the Report.

17.1.4 The Sabbatical Report must incorporate a statement of external grants and earnings (see Clause 14 of this policy). The SDVC or nominee may require that a proportion of those funds be used to offset the amount of financial assistance paid by the University. Any paid work undertaken during the course of the Sabbatical must meet the same conditions for approval as provided for under the existing University Policy for Professional and Consultative Work.

17.2 The Presentation

The employee will provide an implementation plan including a presentation to colleagues and/or students, as appropriate for their teaching and research program, within three months of return. The Head of School, Associate Dean (Research) and Associate Dean (Education) - or equivalent - would ordinarily attend the presentation. The SDVC or nominee may also elect to attend a selection of presentations across the University.

The presentation will be considered as part of recommendation of the panel and acceptance of the Sabbatical Report by the Dean.


18 Faculty Panel

The Dean will establish a Faculty Sabbatical Panel to:

  • assess the eligibility and criteria requirements and merit of all applications and make recommendations to the Dean;
  • consider all Sabbatical Reports and make recommendations to the Dean. The panel will evaluate whether the Sabbatical led to the development, maintenance or improvement of work related skills, knowledge and competencies and the extent the stated objectives have been achieved;
  • co-ordinate academic presentations to Faculty staff and students on return from Sabbatical;
  • prepare a report by the end of October of each year for submission to the SDVC or nominee advising details of successful and unsuccessful applications, including details of applications with a statement of achievement relative to opportunity and early career applicants, summaries of completed Sabbaticals and the number of current and proposed Sabbaticals.

19 Central Panel

The SDVC or nominee will establish a central Sabbatical Panel to meet each November to consider a summary of Sabbaticals undertaken and outcomes on return for the previous twelve months, and to review the policy covering Sabbaticals and review the level of financial assistance through central funding.

Related forms:

Sabbatical Proposal Form and Online submission of proposal

Confirmation of Sabbatical Form

Sabbatical Report Cover Sheet

TRIM File No:


Contact position:

Associate Director, Talent

Related Policies or legislation:

University Travel Payments Policy

Financial Services Travel Allowances/Per Diems

University Credit Card Usage Policy

Financial Services Reimbursement of travel expenditure and cash advances

Travel Policy

Achievement Relative to Opportunity

Workers' compensation insurance

Staff corporate travel insurance

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