PHD sponsorship for a member of staff

I did post a question a few days ago but things have developed since.   We have a valued member of staff who has the opportunity to study for a PHD the focus of which is very much related to our charity's work.  We have external funding for this research which we could offer to an external consultant/researcher but would like to offer to our member of staff.   The proposal is they would go from a full time contract to one day a week working for the charity. The remaining 4 days they would undertake the PHD research over 3 years.  We have a outline of the research and is extremely relevant to our work.

Does anyone have experience of sponsoring study in this way?    Any examples of a sponsorship agreement?   Do you see any issue with having a PT contract of employment running in tandem with a sponsorship agreement?   Would HMRC have any qualms about this arrangement? 

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