Accessibility statement

Leave of Absence (LOA)

Postgraduates

Overview

Overview

A leave of absence allows a student to take an authorised break in their studies for a maximum of one calendar year in the first instance. If a student wishes to take a leave of absence they must apply in advance for permission to do so. A student can apply for a leave of absence from their studies for a documented medical or personal reason. Any student can apply for a leave of absence, however, approval for a period of interruption is not guaranteed.

Leave of absence that is entirely retrospective will not be considered or approved.

If possible the leave of absence form (with evidence) should be submitted before the leave of absence proposed start date, as the leave of absence may not always be approved. In all cases leave of absence requests, recommendations should be submitted no more than one month later than the proposed start date.

If a student has never attended any part of the programme, the student should be deferred or asked to reapply to a programme of study. A request for leave of absence should NOT be made.  Please inform Student Records (student-records@york.ac.uk) so the current student record can be updated and if a deferral is made also inform the relevant admissions department.

Duration

Duration

Leave of absence will normally be granted for a maximum of one year at a time and a maximum of two years. 

A leave of absence must be for a period of ONE or WHOLE MONTHS and must be agreed by the student and the department. Any leave of absence which is less than one month should be absorbed within a student’s normal enrolment period.

For a student with funding, leave of absence will be granted, where appropriate, subject to the approval of the research council or other funding body concerned.

Students may not take a leave of absence:

  • Within the first month of the programme. In these circumstances, you should withdraw from the last date of attendance and apply to recommence the programme at a later date
  • Three months or less before the candidate’s submission deadline
  • If the interruption would extend the period of study beyond any period of registration

Further years of interrupted study are normally only granted on the basis of significant extenuating circumstances, and require special permission from the Special Cases Committee.

If a Leave of Absence is not approved, an Extension of Submission Deadline may be recommended instead.

  • Leave of Absence is covered by the Code of Practice on Research Degree Programmes (section 10)

Criteria/conditions

Criteria and conditions

During the period of leave of absence the following conditions will apply unless specific permission for a variation has been given by the Special Cases Committee:

  • Students are expected to spend their time away from the University
  • Students are expected to leave University accommodation and should complete a ‘Request to Vacate' form available from Accommodation Services
  • Students are not permitted borrowing rights from the University Library
  • Students are not permitted to use University resources (attend lectures, seminars, supervision or Thesis Advisory Panel meetings, or work in a laboratory) during a leave of absence
  • Students are permitted to access Computing Service facilities

Tier 4 (Student) Visas

If the student requesting the interruption of studies is an overseas student, please ensure that the student has consulted with an Immigration Adviser before approving the leave of absence.

UK Visas and Immigration – sponsorship compliance:

Changes must be notified to UKVI within 10 days of the University approving the change in circumstance. Academic Departments must allow time for processing to be undertaken on the SITS Student Record system within this 10 day reporting window. All decisions should therefore be communicated to Registry Services as soon as they are known.

  • Please see the immigration website for more information

Funding

Please ensure that it is stated on the leave of absence request whether the student receives any funding from an external source: research council studentships, foreign loans, sponsors, scholarships, charities, etc. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the proposed leave is compatible with the regulations of any granting agency from which funding would normally be received during the leave period, and that such agencies are informed of the proposed leave. 

For students in receipt of University studentships or UK research council studentships paid through the University, departmental administrators/finance officers should arrange for payment of the stipend to be suspended for the duration of the proposed leave of absence. An exception should be made in the case of maternity, where paid maternity leave up to six months may be taken on top of the normal duration of the stipend or short term illness.

US loans

Students with US loans must meet the criteria required by US regulations relating to Federal Aid in order to take a leave of absence. A student must apply in advance to interrupt their studies unless unforeseen circumstances prevent the student from doing so. The total period of leave of absence must not exceed a total of 180 days in any 12-month period and this includes weekends and scheduled breaks.

  • For further information please see the Student Financial Support website

Externally funded scholarships (eg Research council studentships)

In general, students can apply for a leave of absence from their studies both during their normal registration period and in their writing up period for up to 12 months for reasons such as maternity, illness or other exceptional personal circumstances. External funders (eg research councils) often have different conditions around absences and the same funder can also apply different conditions to different types of awards. Please check the external funder’s guidelines and speak to the appropriate contact with any questions.

Ordinarily, during a period of suspension students are not entitled to receive financial support from the external funder (eg research councils). If the student has been given funds for maintenance (stipend) in advance, they can be liable to repay these on a pro-rata basis. The department may also be eligible for a fees refund on a pro-rata basis. The exception is maternity when financial support is normally available for part of the maternity leave period (additional funding can sometimes be claimed at the end of a grant from the student’s funder to cover maternity payments).

Short term illness

Generally, if a student requires a leave of absence on medical grounds, payment of funding to students can continue for absences covered by a medical certificate for up to thirteen weeks within any 12-month period. Registry does not require formal notification of such periods of illness, but should be made aware that this has occurred in case future extensions are required. A short term illness will usually be treated as part of the tenure of the studentship and the studentship will not be extended correspondingly. Students in this circumstance should be made aware that if they require an extension to their original enrolment period they will NOT normally receive any extra funding from the external funder. Please check the external funder’s guidelines and speak to the appropriate contact with any questions.

Please note: For research council studentships, the departmental Je-S administrator MUST enter the details in the Je-S SDP WITHIN ONE MONTH of the leave of absence being approved. If you do not know who the Je-S administrator is in the department, please contact Research Grants and Contracts.

Accommodation

Under the Student Terms and Conditions of Residence, they may terminate their accommodation agreement early if they take a Leave of Absence. Students will need to give four weeks' notice to Accommodation Services. Find out more about requesting to vacate.

Library access

A student’s access to University library facilities will be suspended for the period of Leave of Absence of enrolment, unless the department set an Academic Condition (see How to Apply tab) (e.g. submission of essay or other outstanding work) that the student must meet before resuming your enrolment at the University. Students with these academic conditions will be permitted to use the library for a suitable period (up to 3 months) before their return.  Except where an academic condition is set, a student may not do work which contributes to your period of study or research during the Leave of Absence.

How to apply

How to apply

Applications for leave of absence for reasons relating to Covid-19, medical and impact, should be made through e:vision.

All other recommendations for leave of absence must be on the appropriate form.

A Leave of Absence must be for a period of ONE or WHOLE MONTHS and must be agreed by the candidate and the department. Any interruption of studies of less than one month should be absorbed within a student’s normal enrolment period.

A leave of absence form and evidence should be submitted no more than one month later than the start of Leave of Absence. Leave of absence that is entirely retrospective will not be considered or approved.

UK Visas and Immigration – sponsorship compliance:

Changes must be notified to UKVI within 10 days of the University approving the change in circumstance. Academic Departments must allow time for processing to be undertaken on the SITS Student Record system within this 10 day reporting window. All decisions should therefore be communicated to Registry Services as soon as they are known.

Evidence

Relevant supporting documentation must be attached to the leave of absence request for non-Covid-19 related requests. If there is no evidence attached the request it will not be considered until the evidence has been received. If a student is applying for an extension of a current leave of absence they must include recent up-to-date evidence to support the new leave of absence request.

Students can submit a leave of absence request to the department with scanned copies of evidence but original hard copies of documents must be submitted to the department before the request is forwarded for consideration. Original hard copies of evidence should be scanned and attached to the leave of absence request once the original copies have been seen.

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. Any written letter should state the grounds for leave of absence and duration of treatment.

Please note: A letter from the Open Door team is NOT considered medical evidence, and further evidence may be required in order to have the leave of absence approved. If only a letter from the Open Door Team is available the recommendation should be made for leave of absence on compassionate grounds.  However this will not require the student to provide evidence of their fitness to return to study.

Academic conditions

Departments should specify on the form any academic condition (e.g. submission of outstanding assignments, exam, etc) that must be met before the candidate is permitted to resume enrolment. For Academic conditions please include the following information:

  • State in detail what is required of the student
  • Reason why student must complete the academic condition
  • The exact date the condition must be met by

For example, if the student is required to complete an outstanding assessment prior to return please state the name of the assessment and the date, time and place of submission.

Unless a condition is set, the student must not participate in any work, study or research related to their enrolment during their leave of absence period. For this reason, the candidate’s access to University library facilities will be suspended, unless an academic condition is to be met, in which case appropriate access to these facilities may be granted on the recommendation of the department concerned.

Repeat Study/Exams

Please state whether the student is required to take any repeat study or whether the student is required to take any exams immediately upon their return for modules where teaching has already been completed, including exams sat for academic conditions of return.

For Repeat Study please include the following information:

  • Start and end dates of repeat study
  • Reason why student is required to repeat

Students should not be permitted periods of repeat study without extenuating circumstances as this may give them an unfair advantage over other students. The Special Cases Committee may choose not to approve repeat study.

For Exams please include the following information:

  • List all exams a student is required to take prior to or upon immediate return (this may or may not be included in the academic conditions)
  • List module codes and titles of exams student are expected to sit

Exam dates and times should not be included as these will not been known at the time the form is completed, and are scheduled by the Exams Office.

Please note: the exact text used on the leave of absence form will appear in the approval email/letter sent to the student.

Application

If a student wishes to apply for a leave of absence, they should first approach their supervisor and discuss their options. Chair of Board of Studies can permit an absence of up to four weeks during any one term without the student being required to take formal leave of absence.

 

If the supervisor agrees the student should go on a longer leave of absence, for non Covid-19 related requests the student should then complete Part A in Leave of Absence form and forward it to their supervisor.  The supervisor and department should then complete the section B of the form. Please see an example of a completed form.

Before the form is submitted please ensure that the following information is included:

  • Confirmation that the details the student has entered are correct.
  • Any relevant evidence is attached (such as a medical letter). Original hard copies of documents must be submitted to the department and scanned before the request will be considered or approved
  • Details of any outside funding (i.e. Research councils, foreign student loans, etc.)
  • Start and end date of leave of absence and date student last attended
  • Statement from the supervisor stating support for leave of absence
  • List of formal requirements of the programme NOT fulfilled by student
  • Any academic conditions of return, repeat study, exams required to sit prior to or immediately upon return or any other condition required
  • Details any previous leave of absences, including dates
  • "Electronic" Signature Confirmation of Chair of the Board of Studies/Executive Committee

Once all the necessary signatures have been obtained, along with the required evidence, the completed form should be emailed from the Chair Graduate School Board/Board of Studies email address (or the Chair Board of Studies must be copied into the email address for the leave of absence to be processed) to registry@york.ac.uk

If the leave of absence is for Covid-19 related reasons, please complete the request through e:vision.

If a Leave of Absence is not approved for various reasons, an Extension of Submission Deadline may be recommended instead.

After a Leave of Absence has been approved, the student and department will receive a leave of absence email, confirming approval dates of the leave of absence and any conditions of return or other recommendations.

Return to study

Return to study

Before the student can return to study, they need to notify registry services by emailing registry-services@york.ac.uk, of their impending return to studies. It is the students’ responsibility to inform the University when they return and to re-enrol in the normal way.

A student will only be able to re-enroll once they have fulfilled the conditions of their return from a leave of absence. The department should inform Registry Services once all the conditions have been met. If the student does not meet the required conditions a department can then request that the student’s registration be terminated – see termination.

Where enrolment is suspended on medical grounds, the student will be required to send medical evidence of their fitness to return to the University Medical Adviser, c/o Clare Streeter at the University Health Centre. This information will be included in the letter notifying the candidate of the approval of the Leave of Absence. Before a student can return to study, candidates must arrange for Registry Services to receive satisfactory confirmation from a doctor of their fitness to study as a condition for resuming their enrolment.

If a student does NOT return from leave of absence please inform the Registry as soon as possible by emailing registry@york.ac.uk. Failure to inform us that a student intends to return from a leave of absence may result in assumed withdrawal.

If a student is unable to return from their current leave of absence they can request a further leave of absence by submitting another application but new up to date evidence will need to be provided.

Who to contact

Research Student Administration Team

Registry Services
University of York
Heslington YORK YO10 5DD
  • For Arts and Humanities: 01904 32 3374
  • For Sciences: 01904 32 4644
  • For Social Sciences: 01904 32 2141