If you need to take a break from your studies you can apply for a leave of absence.

A leave of absence is an authorised break from your studies, usually for a maximum of one calendar year. You might want to take a leave of absence if you:

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Student Support and Advice team
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  • have a documented medical or personal reason that’s making it hard for you to engage with and concentrate on your studies. 
  • you’re changing from one course to another and restarting your studies the following academic year
  • if you’re resitting your exams ‘out of residence’ during the forthcoming academic year
  • have financial or motivational reasons such as undergoing a period of maternity leave or work experience.

If you're an undergraduate you'll be able to take a leave of absence for one year at a time for up to four years. If you're a postgraduate student you can take one year at a time up to two years. Significant extenuating circumstances that require more time off require further permission from the Special Cases Committee.

Making your decision

While taking a leave of absence you’ll be expected to spend your time away from the University and move out of accommodation if you’re living on campus. You won’t be able to access University resources such as attending lectures or seminars, although you will still have access to IT Services facilities and the library.

It’s important to discuss your options with your department before you make a decision. If a leave of absence is the option you take, you should try and apply before the proposed start date of your absence wherever possible, and no later than one month after your proposed start date.

Sometimes you may need or may want to repeat a period of study you’d already undertaken prior to your leave of absence. You won’t normally be allowed to repeat periods of study longer than two whole terms apart from in exceptional circumstances.

If you take a leave of absence you’ll have to pay tuition fees for the period before your absence but won’t have to pay tuition fees for the period you’re away from the University. When you return from your leave of absence your account will be credited on a pro rata basis for any fees paid in excess before your absence.

You don’t need to pay any tuition fees during a leave of absence, and will be charged fees from the date you return to your studies. If you’re repeating a period of study on your return for a leave of absence you’ll normally still be charged for that repeated period.

If at the end of your leave of absence you choose not to return and withdraw from the University, the date of withdrawal will be the start date of your leave of absence and your fee liability will be calculated accordingly.

If your reason for taking a leave of absence is financial, you may want to contact the Student Support and Advice team first to discuss your circumstances.

Student finance 

If you receive financial support from Student Finance England (SFE), Student Finance Wales (SFW),

Student Finance Northern Ireland (SFNI) or Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) Student Services will inform them of the leave of absence and the total amount of tuition fees for the period attended prior to absence. Student finance payments will usually stop during your leave of absence.


If you receive funding from an external source such as foreign loans, sponsors, studentships, scholarships or charities you should inform the University when requesting a leave of absence of this funding and you should ensure that your leave of absence would be compatible with the regulations of any granting agency where you’d normally receive funding during the proposed leave period. You’ll also need to inform the agency you receive funding from of your leave of absence.

If you’re a University of York or external scholarship holder you should check the terms of your award before requesting a leave of absence as there may be implications for your scholarship.

US loans

If you receive a US federal loan and take a leave of absence you’ll no longer be eligible for federal aid. You must apply in advance for a leave of absence unless unforeseen circumstances prevent you from doing so. The total period of leave of absence can't exceed a total of 180 days in any 12 month period including weekends and scheduled breaks.

When you take a leave of absence you won’t have to repay your loan until the grace period is used up. If you’ve used up the grace period you’ll have to begin repaying your loan immediately when you graduate. It’s possible to request an extension to the grace period but this must be done before the grace period is used up. Find out more about US loans.

From time to time courses may be modified, altered or occasionally discontinued. If your department feels your course will be significantly altered they should discuss the situation with you, including whether the changes may mean you’ll need to return from your leave of absence earlier than expected.

If you’re required to repeat or take additional study due to course changes you won’t normally be charged tuition fees for this.

If you’re an international student and take a leave of absence you may no longer be eligible for a student visa. Make sure you talk to an Immigration Adviser before applying for a leave of absence.

We’re required to report a leave of absence for an international student to UK Visas and Immigration within 10 days of the start date of the leave of absence. You’ll need to return to your home country during your leave of absence.

If you normally study full-time and are taking a leave of absence you won’t have to pay council tax. If you’re a part-time student you’ll already have to pay council tax and you’ll still have to during your leave of absence. See more information on council tax liability if you’re a student.

Applying for a leave of absence

If you need to take a break from your studies for less than a month this can be dealt with by your department. You should contact your supervisor and your department can make arrangements. The weeks you are granted permission to be absent will still count towards your programme and there will be no amendment to your programme end date.

Before applying, talk to your supervisor to make sure a leave of absence is the right option. The Student Hub team can also offer advice.

If your supervisor agrees a leave of absence is the best option for you, you'll need to complete Part A of the leave of absence form and email it to them from your York email address. Your supervisor and department will then complete the remaining sections of the form and forward it on for approval.

You should include the following information:

  • your student ID (this can be found on the back of your university card)
  • any relevant evidence
  • whether you’re receiving any sort of outside funding (such as research councils, foreign student loans, etc).

After your department approves your request and any necessary supporting information has been gathered, they’ll forward your application for consideration to the Student Records team.

If your application is successful, you’ll receive a leave of absence email confirmation to your York email account, confirming:

  • dates of the leave of absence
  • any conditions of resumption
  • your new end date for your course.

You should make sure your current contact address information is correct on e:Vision to make sure you receive any posted correspondence.

If you require a hard copy of the letter for visa purposes, make sure you state this on your application form.


Depending on the reason for your Leave of Absence request, you’ll need to attach supporting documents to your application or your absence request won’t be considered. If you’re applying for a continuation of a current leave of absence you’ll need to submit new up-to-date evidence with your new application.

You may already have evidence to support your leave of absence application. If so, you can submit your evidence alongside your application to your department. Evidence already obtained may include:

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

Leave of absence for health reasons

Temporary COVID-19 Related Exemption regarding Medical Evidence 

If you need time away due to a medical circumstance but do not have evidence to support this then you can be placed on a 'Compassionate (Medical Self-Certified)' leave of absence which doesn't require any initial supporting evidence. This is to prevent you having to visit a medical practitioner solely for the purpose of obtaining evidence . However you should try to obtain confirmation from a medical practitioner that you are fit to return to study nearer the time you're due back.

If you are taking a leave of absence due to Covid-19, you'll be placed on a 'Covid-19' leave of absence. You can apply for this through e:Vision. **Please be aware this task is now closed for new applications, any student wishing to apply for LOA after this date should do so using the paper form through their department**

You can apply to repeat Summer Term 2020 (or an affected York Online module) due to the effects of Covid-19 without having to provide evidence that your studies were damaged during that period. However, you must provide a reason why repeat study is necessary given the updated Covid-19 exceptional circumstances procedure.

You won’t be able to repeat Summer Term just because of changes to teaching and assessment. 

If you’re applying to repeat an earlier part of the academic year you’ll still need to provide evidence that those periods of study were damaged by exceptional circumstances. We’ll also consider other information such as 

  • attendance levels during the affected period
  • supervisor statement
  • correspondence between you and the University discussing difficulties.

Your application will be considered by your department and Student Records team as normal who will decide whether to approve the request or not.

Returning to study after a leave of absence

Prior to your resumption date, you will be contacted with the appropriate re-enrolment information and any conditions of return that you need to satisfy prior to your return e.g meeting academic requirements. 

 You will also need to make sure you’ve paid any outstanding debts to the University before re-enrolling.

If you are returning from a leave of absence due to medical circumstance and medical evidence was submitted in support of your Leave of Absence application, you will need to provide medical confirmation that you're fit to study to the University’s Medical Adviser, Unity Health. 

Full contact details will be in your confirmation letter and they can assist you with any queries regarding your fitness to return evidence and its contents.

If you have any questions regarding your return please contact student-records@york.ac.uk

Obtaining fitness to study confirmation during Covid-19

We recognise that Covid-19 restrictions may limit your access to medical evidence that may be required in order to return to study.

If your existing medical evidence is sufficiently close to your proposed date of return then you’ll be able to use this evidence as part of the return to study process.

You’ll still need to provide evidence that you’re fit to return to study if you fall into any of these categories. We’ll discuss these requirements with you and other relevant stakeholders and will consider any alternative approaches to obtaining the required evidence, such as video conferencing with the University’s medical practitioner where appropriate.

If you don’t fall into either of the previous categories and you are experiencing difficulty obtaining the necessary fitness to return evidence, please contact Student Records to enquire about your ability to self certify your return. 

You won’t be expected to decide which of the above categories you fall into - this will be determined by your department’s Board of Studies. You’ll also need to make sure you’ve paid any outstanding debts to the University before re-enrolling. 

If you don’t inform us that you intend to return from your leave of absence or complete your re-enrolment within the given timeframe, we’ll assume that you’ve withdrawn from your course. If you’re unable to return from your current leave of absence you can request a continuation by submitting another application.

Contact us

Student Support and Advice team
Fill in our referral form, available at: york.ac.uk/student-hub