A leave of absence allows you to take an authorised break in your studies. You may apply for a leave of absence for a documented medical or personal reason.

Before making the decision to interrupt your studies, you should discuss your options with your supervisor. For full details and regulations please see the Policy on Research Degrees (7.10-7.13).

Any student can apply for a leave of absence. It can be a good solution for a postgraduate researcher who genuinely finds that medical or personal difficulties are preventing their study for a period of time. However, approval remains at the discretion of PGR Special Cases.

As far as possible, you should apply for a leave of absence in advance. Departments should not submit requests to PGR Special Cases later than one month after the proposed start date of the leave period. Leave of absence that is entirely retrospective will not be considered or approved.

Postgraduate researchers who are in their continuation year may request a leave of absence, provided that they are more than three months away from their submission deadline. 

Contact us

PGR Administration

+44 (0)1904 325962
Student Hub, Information Centre Basement, Market Square

A leave of absence must be requested for a period of one or more whole months, up to a maximum of one year. Absences shorter than one month should be dealt with within your department.

In the following circumstances, you may not take a leave of absence:

  • Within the first month of beginning your studies. In these circumstances, you should withdraw from your programme and apply to recommence at a later date.
  • Three months or less before your submission deadline.
  • If the leave of absence would extend the total duration of leaves of absence to more than two years.

PGR Special Cases may make exceptions to these rules on the basis of significant extenuating circumstances.

During your leave of absence the following conditions will apply unless PGR Special Cases give specific permission for a variation:

  • You are expected to spend your time away from the University;
  • You are expected to leave University accommodation. You must complete a ‘Request to Vacate' form available from the Accommodation Office;
  • You are not permitted to use University resources during a leave of absence. This includes attending lectures, seminars, laboratory sessions, supervision or thesis advisory panel meetings;
  • You will retain full borrowing rights from the University library;
  • You may continue to use IT facilities.

Except where an academic condition is set, you may not do work which contributes to your research during a leave of absence.​ You are taking leave from study for good reason; it is not in your interests to continue working. It is also inequitable to other students, as your leave of absence does not count towards your normal registration period.

If you wish to take parental leave (encompassing maternity, paternity, shared parental, and adoption leave), you will need to apply for a leave of absence in advance. 

The University aims to provide an environment where students are supported and treated fairly and with dignity and respect, including during pregnancy, maternity, paternity, the process of adoption, and whilst breastfeeding. The University believes that becoming pregnant or having a young child should not, in itself, be a barrier to study, and aims to balance flexibility with provision of consistent, non-judgemental, accurate and high quality information, guidance and support. Please see the University's Student Pregnancy, Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Policy (maintained by the Equality and Diversity Office) for full information.

In receipt of a stipend via York?

If you are York-registered, and receive a stipend-paying studentship via the University, you may be eligible for paid parental leave. See Paid Parental Leave for full details, including information on eligibility and how to apply. 

If you wish to apply for a leave of absence, you should approach your supervisor and discuss your options. If your supervisor agrees, you should then complete the PGR Special Cases 'Change of Plan' request form:

PGR Special Cases 'Change of Plan' request form

Supporting information

Supporting documentation must be attached to the leave of absence request. The request will not be considered until supporting documentation has been received. Your department will not accept copies of documents unless you have presented them with the original.

Evidence includes but is not limited to:

  • medical certificate or doctor/counsellor letter
  • death certificate or other dated evidence of bereavement
  • confirmation of maternity
  • letter from an employer
  • financial statement or written affidavit.

Please note: A letter from the Open Door Team is not sufficient as sole medical evidence. You may include this, but further evidence may be required before the leave of absence is approved.

If you are applying for an extension of an ongoing leave of absence, you must complete a new Leave of Absence application. You must include new evidence to support the request.

If your application is successful, we will send confirmation to your University of York email address. This will confirm the duration of the leave of absence, any conditions of resumption, and a new end date for your programme of study.

Any posted correspondence will be sent to your current contact address. Ensure your information is up to date on your e:Vision account.

Sensitive information

Whilst it is encouraged that students share as much as they can with their department wherever possible, sometimes a student will not want to make their particular personal circumstances known to their department.

If this is the case then the student should submit their request in the normal way (i.e. submitting the form to their supervisor for approval and then the departmental Graduate Chair for departmental approval) but declare in their statement that they have submitted a separate statement and evidence directly to the Special Cases Officer in PGR Administration.

Sensitive information should be sent directly via email to pgr-administration@york.ac.uk.

Before you return to study, you need to notify Student Services (student-records@york.ac.uk). This will enable us to send you the appropriate enrolment information. Failure to inform the University that you intend to return from you leave of absence may result in assumed withdrawal.

You will only be able to re-enrol if you have fulfilled any conditions attached to your leave of absence.

If you took a leave of absence on medical grounds, you must provide current certification of your fitness to study before re-enrolling. Details of how to obtain certification will be included in your leave of absence approval letter.

You must pay any outstanding debts to the University before you resume your enrolment.

If you are unable to return from your current leave of absence you can request an extension by filling in a new Leave of Absence application. You will need to provide new evidence.

Any posted correspondence will be sent to your current contact address. Ensure your information is up to date on your e:Vision account.

Student status and your responsibilities

You are not liable to pay fees during an approved leave of absence. When you return to your studies, your account will be credited for any excess fees you have paid.

If you decide to withdraw from your studies during a leave of absence, you will be liable for fees up until the date of withdrawal. The beginning of your Leave of Absence will normally be considered your date of withdrawal.

Contact fees-office@york.ac.uk for more information.

When applying for a leave of absence you must inform the University of any funding you receive. This may includes any scholarships, research council studentships, foreign loans, sponsors, etc. It is your responsibility to ensure that your proposed leave of absence complies with any funding rules.

During a leave of absence you are not eligible to apply for financial support from the University. If you are considering a leave of absence due to financial difficulty, you should contact the Student Financial Support Unit. An adviser will help you find out if you qualify for financial support.

Contact sfsu@york.ac.uk for more information.

If you live in University accommodation you may terminate your accommodation agreement early. You will need to give eight weeks' notice to Accommodation Services. Find out more about requesting to vacate.

Full Time research students continue to be exempt from Council Tax during a leave of absence. If you are eligible you will need to apply for exemption. Get more information on Council Tax.

Council Tax rules may vary depending on where you live, and can be complex. You should speak to a Student Adviser or contact your local council.

If you have a Student visa, you must consult with an Immigration Adviser before submitting a request for a Leave of Absence. In most cases, a student with a Student visa will be obliged to leave the UK during the period of their Leave.

The University is required to inform the Home office of your Leave of Absence within 10 days of the start of the Leave. In no circumstances can the University grant retrospective, or partially retrospective, Leaves of Absence to students with a Student visa.

For more information, complete our International Student Support referral form on our immigration advice page.

Contact us

PGR Administration

+44 (0)1904 325962
Student Hub, Information Centre Basement, Market Square