Accessibility statement

Leave of Absence (LOA)

Taught students

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 is also granted for students transferring from one programme to another and re-starting their studies the following academic year (this should be marked on the transfer form) and for students entitled under departmental regulations to re-sit failed examinations ‘out of residence’ during the forthcoming academic year.

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 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 Services (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.

Repeat study

Guidance on repeating study is available, setting out the different mechanisms by which students can repeat part of their programme: Repeat Study Guidance for Departments (PDF , 175kb) 

Duration

Duration

Taught programmes

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

A Special Cases Committee hearing may be called where: 

  • the total accrued leave of absence for a taught student becomes so lengthy that the student’s likelihood of successfully completing their programme is called into question
  • the leave-of-absence request for a research student exceeds the limits specified in the Policy on Research Degrees.

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 permitted full borrowing rights from the University Library
  • students are not permitted to use University resources (attend lectures, seminars, supervision meetings, or work in a laboratory) during a leave of absence
  • students are permitted to access IT Services facilities.

Student visas

If the student requesting the interruption of studies is an international 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 immigration advice 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: foreign loans, sponsors, studentships, 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 candidates 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.

Student Finance England

If a student has financial support from Student Finance England, Registry Services will inform Student Finance England of the period of leave of absence and the total amount of tuition fees for the period the student attended prior to their leave of absence. A student will not receive any payments from Student Finance England during their period of leave of absence.

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.

Accommodation

Students taking a leave of absence are NOT eligible to remain in University Accommodation and the must complete a request to vacate form and give notice to vacate their room. Students MUST have written approval from the University before they can terminate their residence contract. Students will need to give four weeks' notice to Accommodation Services. Find out more about requesting to vacate.

The accommodation office is unable to terminate a student’s contract until the University has approved the change in circumstance. Academic departments must allow time for processing to be undertaken on the SITS Student Record system in order to expedite this process. All decisions should therefore be communicated to Registry Services as soon as they are known.

If a student is returning from a period of leave of absence or placement, they are not eligible for University accommodation unless they have a medical condition or other special circumstance that requires them to live on campus.

Library access

A student’s access to University library facilities will remain active for the period of Leave of Absence.

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.

Applying

How to apply

Requests for leave of absence must be submitted on the appropriate form.

A leave of absence must be for a period agreed by the student and the department. Any leave of absence of less than one month should be dealt with within the department.

A Leave of Absence and evidence (where required) 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 Student and Academic Administration as soon as they are known.

Evidence

Relevant supporting documentation must be attached to all leave of absence requests.

Covid-19 update (updated January 2022)

Please note that temporary policy changes had  been agreed regarding the provision of evidence to support leave of absence requests in light of the Covid-19 situation. These changes included introduction of three new codes, (1) Code 26 - Compassionate (Medical Self Certified) which enabled students to be placed on medical leave of absence without providing evidence, (2) Code 25 (covid-19) for students taking leave of absence because of the impact of covid-19 and (3) Code 25A for students taking leave of absence because of contracting Covid-19 and dealing with the medical effects.

From Spring Term of the 2021/22 academic year, the following applies to all leave of absence applications: 

  1. The requirement to provide medical or other evidence of circumstances in reinstated;
  2. As a consequence of point (1), Code 26 will be removed as students will no longer be able to self-certify. 
  3. Code 25 (Impact of Covid-19) will remain in place, students will not be required to submit evidence for this and it should be used where they are unable to travel due to restrictions etc.
  4. Code 25A (Covid-19 medical) will remain in place, students will now be expected to provide evidence to support their application from a medical professional.

Please note that students returning from LoA on ‘Compassionate (Medical Self-Certified)’ - Code 26 grounds from the start of the Spring Term of the 2021/22 academic year are strongly advised to obtain confirmation from a medical or other professional confirming that they are fit to return, if the reasons for their leave of absence relate to a medical reason.

Academic conditions

Departments should specify on the form any academic condition (eg, 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 meet 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. 

Repeat study

Repeat should only be supported on the following grounds:

  1. That there is clear evidence (see above paragraphs for temporary requirements for evidence) of an inability to take the benefit of the teaching at the previous attempt, for example where a student was seriously unwell for the duration of a term.
  2. 'Where a student repeats study as a result of changes in their programme of study upon return from leave. For example, a student takes leave from the end of the spring term in 2021, and has to return in the autumn term 2021 to repeat the autumn and spring terms, due to significant changes in their programme. In such cases, you should explore any reasonable alternatives that may exist, for example whether the student can reasonably be provided with a bespoke arrangement/assessments based upon the original programme format.'

Tuition fee waivers

'If there is no reasonable alternative but to repeat study due to programme changes, the Board of Studies should make a recommendation to the Special Cases Committee that any repeat study fees should be waived. The Board of Studies may also make such a recommendation where a student applies for repeat study on other grounds (eg, medical), but would in any event have no reasonable alternative but to repeat study due to programme changes having arisen.

Boards of Studies should carefully explore alternatives to repeat study in such cases, particularly bespoke arrangements, and should normally only recommend a full repeat where it is not reasonably practical for any other reasonable remedy to be implemented. Any queries about such cases should be directed to scc@york.ac.uk.

Exams

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 students 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, the student should then complete Part A of the Leave of Absence Form and forward it to their supervisor. The supervisor and department should then complete the Section B of the form either for Board of Studies or Special Cases Committee.

Forms

Leave of Absence form

Leave of Absence v2022.2 (MS Word , 45kb)

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

  • Confirmation that the details the student has entered are correct.
  • Reason and code of leave of absence
  • Start and end date of leave of absence. Start date of leave must always much the date the student last attended. Please note that the start date of leave of absence has financial consequences - both for tuition fees and student finance - and must therefore be accurate and verifiable.
  • Updated programme end date.
  • Any relevant evidence is attached where possible (see Applying tab).  Where evidence is provided, 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 (ie Research councils, foreign student loans, etc.)
  • Any academic conditions of return, repeat study, exams required to sit prior to or immediately upon return or any other conditions required
  • "Electronic" signature confirmation of Chair of the Board of Studies/Executive Committee.

Approval process

All leaves of absence must be approved by the Board of Studies. If the following conditions are met, Special Cases Committee approval is also required:

Special Cases Committee

  • The student is repeating more than one term of study
  • The start date of the leave of absence is more than 20 term-time weeks before the form is received by Student Records / Special Cases.
  • A request is made for a repeat tuition fee waiver
  • The leave of absence request is for more than one academic year of leave (multiple years of leave can be taken, but not more than one year at a time).

Submitting the leave of absence recommendation

If Special Cases Committee approval is required, the completed form and supporting evidence should be emailed from the Chair Board of Studies/Executive Committee email address (or the Chair Board of Studies must be copied into the email address for the leave of absence to be processed) to scc@york.ac.uk.

If the leave of absence does not require SCC approval, the completed form and evidence should be sent directly to Student Records - the completed form and evidence should be emailed from the Chair Board of Studies/Executive Committee email address (or the Chair Board of Studies must be copied into the email address for the leave of absence to be processed) to student-records@york.ac.uk.

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.

Return

Return to study

A student will only be able to re-enrol once they have fulfilled the conditions of their return from a leave of absence. The department should inform Student 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.

Conditions of return from Leave of Absence

With some types of leave of absence, students may have certain conditions they have to meet to be permitted to return from leave of absence. These are known as conditions of return. Such conditions are usually either:

  • Academic (for example, they cannot return unless they have passed particular assessments prior to return, in order to be able to progress on their programme of study),

OR

  • Medical (students on medical leave of absence are normally expected to obtain evidence from a medical practitioner, prior to their return, confirming that they are now fit to study.

If a student does NOT return from leave of absence please inform Student Services as soon as possible by emailing student-records@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.

Contact

Who to contact

For information on leave of absence cases not requiring Special Cases Committee approval - student-records@york.ac.uk

For information on leave of absence cases requiring Special Cases Committee approval - scc@york.ac.uk

For information on financial and funding implications of leave of absence, please complete the self referral form to speak with an adviser which can be found on the Student Hub homepage.

Office hours: 9am to 5pm (Monday to Friday)

If a student wishes to know the progress of their request for leave of absence, they should contact their academic department(s) about this in the first instance.