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Sabbatical bench fee regulation

As approved by decision of the Board of Trustees of 27/11/2019


§1. The FWO may, on the advice of the International Collaboration Committee (CIWC), award a sabbatical bench fee to a researcher who at the time of applying for such a grant:

  1. holds a ZAP position (salaried) of at least 80% at a university in the Flemish Community or an equivalent position with doctorate at the Evangelical Protestant Faculty in Leuven or the Faculty for Protestant Theology in Brussels for research related to religious studies or theology; the Maritime Academy for research related to nautical sciences; the Vlerick Management School; the Antwerp Management School for research related to management sciences, or the Institute of Tropical Medicine for research related to tropical medicine, veterinary medicine or healthcare in developing countries;
  2. can present a declaration, signed by the rector and the relevant head of department, in which the host institution undertakes to relieve the researcher from his/her educational and administrative tasks for the entire period of the sabbatical leave so as to allow the researcher to focus entirely on scientific research during his/her sabbatical leave.

Art. 2. CONDITIONS (as amended by decision of the board of trustees of 28/10/2020)

§1. The sabbatical bench fee amounts to maximum EUR 2,000/month and can be requested for a consecutive period of minimum 3 and maximum 12 months. It cannot be extended. The CIWC may reduce this amount if the bench fee is not sufficiently scientifically substantiated in the request. Reduced amounts can, however, continue to be used throughout the duration of the sabbatical leave.

§2. The sabbatical bench fee cannot be cumulated with a grant for participation in a conference abroad, participation in a workshop/course abroad, or short/long study visit abroad.

§3. Only one sabbatical bench fee can be allocated per person and per civil year. The grants are personal and cannot be transferred. The total maximum duration of the sabbatical leave is one year per term of three years from the start date of the first allocated sabbatical leave. In exceptional cases, deviation from the original start date of the requested sabbatical leave may be envisaged. Such change in start date must always be substantiated and supported by the relevant host institution and department.

§4. The sabbatical bench fee can be used for the purchase and financing of all items that are directly related to the research activities during the sabbatical leave. Costs for which bench fees can be used are exclusively limited to the following:

  • purchase costs for items of lasting value and useful for the research (equipment, computers, books, etc.). Upon termination of the sabbatical bench fee, these items become the property of the host institution or university hospital. The beneficiary of a sabbatical bench fee must at all times comply with the purchasing policy of the host institution or university hospital.
  • costs of consumables (reagents, test animals or plants, chemicals, etc.);
  • operating expenditure (based on invoice, internal note, or final statement) for photocopies, searches and data traffic (mail/fax/internet);
  • Remuneration to persons not subject to social security who participate in the awarded research (on the basis of an invoice or internal note);
  • travel and accommodation costs incurred in Belgium and abroad for research-related activities, excluding commuter traffic. (Beneficiaries cannot claim any lump sum subsistence allowance, but are required to justify these costs by submitting supporting documents such as invoices, tickets, etc.);
  • costs for a CO2 contribution linked to air travel to and from abroad by the beneficiary;
  • fees for study stays and participation in conferences abroad to the extent that they are in line with the awarded research project;
  • publication costs for articles with the beneficiary as first author (or as co-author on the basis of reasonable cost-sharing);
  • access to and dissemination of research results.

§5. Under no circumstances shall the bench fee be used for:

  • costs for registration on the university roll or as a regular student in Belgium or abroad;
  • strictly personal expenditure, including accommodation and commuter traffic (place of domicile/commute to own host institution);
  • the settlement of central management costs and/or general operating costs by the research group/department or the university;
  • expenditure already covered by other financing sources;
  • costs of other scholarship students, PhD students, postdoctoral fellows or staff members;
  • costs for the organisation of a workshop or conference.

Art. 3. SUBMISSION (as amended by decision of the Board of Trustees 12/05/2021)

§1. Applications for sabbatical bench fees must be submitted no later than 3 months before the commencement of the sabbatical leave, in English, by the head of the host institution. This submission deadline is strictly binding. The submission deadlines are 1 March, 1 June, 1 September and 1 December of every year. 

§2. The application must include a detailed research plan with research objectives that can be feasibly achieved within the requested period of sabbatical leave. Research-related stays (1) in an organisation, whether or not abroad, insofar as (strategic) basic research can be carried out there or (2) to carry out fieldwork, whether or not abroad, must be embedded in the research plan and extensively substantiated in the research plan.  


Applications for sabbatical bench fees are evaluated by the International Collaboration Committee (CIWC). Based on the submitted research plan, the CIWC evaluates to what extent the research plan, possibly in combination with one or more research stays, is of high quality and feasible within the requested sabbatical leave period. Based on this evaluation, the CIWC selects those applicants whom it wishes to nominate for the sabbatical bench fee. 


Within three months after the end of the sabbatical bench fee, the beneficiary must submit to the FWO a detailed scientific report on the scientific activities carried out, using the template provided for this purpose.  


§1. After submission of the supporting documents, the sabbatical bench fee will be paid into an account number of the main host institution or university hospital to which the beneficiary is affiliated.

§2. The finance department of the host institution will open a credit line for the beneficiary’s sabbatical bench fee.

§3. The beneficiary of the FWO sabbatical bench fee is responsible for managing the bench fee.

§4. Upon expiry of the sabbatical leave, unused funds can no longer be used and return to the FWO. Expenses incurred prior to the start of the sabbatical leave cannot be financed either. 


§1. The beneficiary authorises the charging of expenditure to the bench fee by approving in writing each original invoice or internal accounting record which they then forward to the competent finance department of the host institution. With their signatures they acknowledge the correctness of the charged amount in accordance with these regulations.

§2. The bench fee shall not be increased if the actual expenditure exceeds its amount. It is therefore in the interest of the research project to manage these funds correctly. 


§1. Upon expiry of the sabbatical leave, the competent administration of the main host institution or university hospital reports to the FWO on the status of the available account balance and the nature of the costs charged to the account. 

§2. Upon termination of the fellowship, the original supporting documents and account statements shall remain with the main host institution or university hospital for the retention period for accounting records provided for by law, notably in Article III.86 of the Economic Law Code, for verification by the FWO, the FWO auditor and all bodies authorised to audit the FWO. 

Art. 9. CONTACT 

§1. For general questions regarding the sabbatical bench fee, the beneficiary should contact the Research Coordination department of the main host institution or the relevant department of the university hospital.

§2. For questions regarding the grant management, the beneficiary should contact the Finance department of the main host institution or the university hospital.