Accessibility statement

Take a break from your studies

Taking a break from your studies is known as a 'leave of absence' (LOA) or a 'suspension of enrolment'.

Taught students

Overview

Leave of absence

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 you wish to take a leave of absence you 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 absence 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.

Before making the decision to interrupt your studies, you should discuss your options with your department. 

As far as possible, you should apply for a leave of absence before the proposed start date. In all cases leave of absence requests should submit recommendations no more than one month later than the proposed start date. Leave of absence that is entirely retrospective will not be considered or approved.

The University has updated the application process for students wishing to take a leave of absence due to Covid-19. Any students affected by the impact of the pandemic or medically affected are now able to request the leave of absence through either e:vision portal and this will be considered electronically by their supervisor and Chair of Board of Studies.

Duration

Duration

For undergraduate students a leave of absence will normally be granted for a maximum of one year at a time and limited to a total of four years for any degree (thus making seven years the total length of time in which a three-year degree might be achieved and eight years the total length of time for a four-year degree etc).

For taught postgraduate students a leave of absence will normally be granted for a maximum of one year at a time and for a maximum of two years.

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.

Criteria

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 the Accommodation Services;
  • 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 IT Services facilities.

Library access

You will retain full access to the Library, including borrowing rights, during your leave of absence.

Fees

Fees

If you interrupt your studies you are liable to pay fees for the period you have attended prior to the leave of absence. When you return to your studies, your account will be credited on a pro rata basis any fees paid in excess for the previous academic session. If you do not return from an interruption and subsequently withdraw, the date of withdrawal is taken as the start date of the leave of absence and fee liability is calculated accordingly.

You are not required to pay fees during an approved leave of absence period. When you return from your approved period of absence, you will be charged fees commencing on that date.

If you are repeating a period of study on your return from leave of absence, tuition fees will normally be charged for the repeated period of study.

For more information see the Finance webpage.

Changes to Programmes of Study

It should be noted that from time to time programmes sometimes may be modified, altered or occasionally discontinued. Programmes are also periodically updated. Should your academic department feel that your course will be significantly affected, they will discuss the situation with you, including whether any changes may prompt the possibility of an earlier than expected return to study. If you are required to repeat/undertake additional study due to changes, you will not normally be charged tuition fees relating to this. However, other relevant alternatives may also be explored by your academic department.

Funding

You are responsible to inform the University when requesting a leave of absence if you receive funding from an external source: foreign loans, sponsors, studentships, scholarships, charities, etc. It is your 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.

If you are a University of York or external scholarship holder, you should check the terms of your award before requesting a formal leave of absence since there may be implications for your scholarship. For example if you have been given funds by University of York for maintenance, you can be liable to repay these on a pro-rata basis.

Once you take leave of absence your student finance will stop.  If your reason for taking leave of absence is financial you may wish to contact the Student Support and Advice team.

Student Finance

If you have financial support from SFE, SFW, SFNI or SAAS, Student Services will inform them of the period of leave of absence and the total amount of tuition fees for the period attended prior to your leave of absence. Payments from Student Finance will usually stop during your period of leave of absence. For further advice contact the Student Support and Advice team.

Self-referral form

If you receive financial support from any other sources you are responsible for contacting your provider.

US loans

Your Federal Loans will be affected if you suspend your studies and do not meet the criteria required by US regulations relating to Federal Aid. You must apply in advance to interrupt your studies unless unforeseen circumstances prevent you 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.

When you take a leave of absence you will not have to repay your loan until the grace period is used up. If you use up the grace period, however, when you graduate you will have to begin repaying your loan immediately. It is possible to request an extension to the grace period, but this must be done before the grace period is used up.

See more information about US loans.

General

Accommodation

Under the Student Terms and Conditions of Residence, you may terminate your accommodation agreement early if you take a Leave of Absence. You will need to give notice to Accommodation Services. Find out more about requesting to vacate.

Council tax

If you are considered a full-time student during any periods of interruption you may be eligible to maintain council tax exemption.

Part-time students are not exempt from council tax, either during or after their period of part-time enrolment.

For more information please see the pages on Council tax.

Tier 4 (Student) Visas

If you are an international student and you wish to take a leave of absence from the University you may no longer be eligible for the Tier 4 (student) visa. Therefore you must consult with an Immigration Adviser before taking this step.

The University is 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.

For more information please see the Immigration Advice Service website.

Apply

How to apply

Any leave of absence of less than one month should be dealt with within the department. Please contact your supervisor or department so they are aware of your absence and can respond accordingly.

Leave of absence due to Covid-19 should be applied for through e:vision

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

Evidence

Normally, relevant supporting documentation must be attached to the leave of absence request. If there is no evidence attached the request will not be considered until it has been received. If you are applying for a continuation on a current leave of absence, you must include recent up to date evidence to support the new leave of absence request.

In light of the current Covid-19 situation, however, temporary policy changes have been agreed regarding the provision of evidence to support leave of absence requests. The following has been agreed in relation to leave of absence applications made from 1 March 2020 onwards for UK students (this date may be earlier for students affected by Covid-19 in other countries):  

  • Students must not visit a medical practitioner solely to acquire supporting evidence. Students will not be required to provide supporting evidence for leave of absence requests. 
  • No students will be placed on standard medical leave of absence (codes 07, 08, 09 and 10 on the leave of absence form) unless they already have appropriate medical evidence available to support their application. 
  • Students with medical circumstances will instead be placed on ‘Compassionate (Medical Self-Certified)’ - Code 26 leave of absence (a new leave of absence type), which allows students to be on medical leave without the need to provide evidence to confirm that.
  • Students taking leave of absence because of the impact of Covid-19 will be placed on ‘Covid-19 - code 25’ leave of absence and this should be applied for through e:vision
  • Students taking LoA on ‘Compassionate (Medical Self-Certified)’ - Code 26 grounds are advised that, if the Covid-19 situation is resolved at the point that they are due to return from leave (and medical practitioners have returned to normal operations), they 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.

If you do have evidence to support your leave of absence application, you can submit your leave of absence request to your department with scanned copies of any evidence you have.  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. 

Evidence to support repeat study

  • Students wishing to repeat Summer term 2020 (or an affected York Online module) can apply to do so without having to provide evidence that their studies have been damaged during that period, but they must provide a good reason as to why repeat study is necessary in spite of the updated and simplified exceptional circumstances options available during the Covid-19 period. Students are expected to make full use of the exceptional circumstances procedures.
  • Students will not be permitted to repeat study solely on the basis of changes to assessment/teaching during this period.  Any request to repeat must be on the basis of exceptional circumstances (which can include exceptional circumstances arising as a result of Covid-19).
  • For students wishing to repeat earlier parts of the academic year/Stage, evidence that their Autumn and/or Spring terms were damaged by exceptional circumstances will still be needed. If the student already has independent third party evidence (for example in the form of evidence that had already been provided to support an earlier exceptional circumstances claim) this should be provided. However, other information such as attendance levels during the affected period, supervisor’s statements, and correspondence between the student and the University (for example, between the student and Department or College staff) during the affected period, showing discussions about difficulties, will also be considered.  The right to repeat study is not automatic.

Application

If your request for leave of absence is in relation to Covid-19, please complete the application through your e:vision portal

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 go on a leave of absence, you should then complete Part A on the Leave of Absence Form and email it to your supervisor. Your supervisor and department will then complete the remaining sections of the form and forward it on for approval.

Leave of Absence Form (taught) - temporary Covid 19 form 2020 (MS Word , 52kb)

Please ensure that the following information is included:

  • Your current student identification number – this can be found on the back of your University Card;
  • Submit any relevant evidence you have to your department;
  • State if you are receiving any sort of outside funding (eg Research councils, foreign student loans, etc). Also see funding.

The form must be emailed from your University of York email address. You can forward your University email account to another email address but any correspondence to the University must be sent from your University of York email address. Please see information about 'My IT Account' on the IT Services pages.

Once all the necessary approvals have been obtained, and supporting information gathered, the completed form will then be forwarded for consideration from your department to the University Student Records team. The completed form must be emailed from the Chair Board of Studies/Executive Committee email address or it will not be processed.

If your application is successful, you will receive a leave of absence email confirmation to your University of York email account, confirming the dates of the leave of absence, any conditions of resumption, and your new end date for the programme.

Any posted correspondence will be sent to your current contact address so ensure your information is correct on your e:Vision account

Please note: If you require a hard copy of the letter for Visa purposes, please state this on the leave of absence form.

Return

Return to study

It is your responsibility to inform the University when you return and to re-enrol in the normal way. See Returning Student pages for further information.

Before you can return to study, you need to notify Student Services by emailing student-records@york.ac.uk, of your impending return to your studies. This will enable us to send you the appropriate enrolment information.

Usually you'll only be able to re-enrol if you have fulfilled any conditions attached to your return from a leave of absence.

If your leave of absence is on academic grounds, you will not be permitted to return until you have met the academic conditions set out in your leave of absence confirmation letter.

Ordinarily, where enrolment has been suspended on medical grounds, you are required to provide medical confirmation of your fitness to study to the University’s Medical Adviser before Student Services will permit you to enrol.  This condition and details of how to obtain fitness to study will be included in the letter notifying you of the approval of the leave of absence.

However, the Government response to Covid-19 has necessitated restrictions on access to NHS services, access to University buildings, travel and physical meeting arrangements (these restrictions are referred to as the Covid-19 Restrictions).

The University recognises that the Covid-19 Restrictions limit students’ access to medical evidence that may be required as a condition of return to study.

A student on Medical Leave of Absence who wishes to return to study during the Covid-19 Restrictions will fall into one of the following three categories:

  1. Students with existing medical evidence 

Where such existing evidence is sufficiently contemporaneous to the proposed date of return then students may rely on this evidence as part of the return to study process.

2. Students whose proposed return to study is reasonably considered to raise any of the following issues:

  • Safeguarding, whether of the returning student or other members of the University community;
  • Fitness to Practise; 
  • Ongoing Support to Study provision by the University as part of the return to study plan.

Students in category 2) will be required to provide evidence that they are fit to return to study notwithstanding the Covid-19 Restrictions. 

The University will discuss these requirements with affected students and will consider alternative approaches to obtaining the required evidence such as video conferencing with the University's medical practitioner where appropriate.

3. Students not in category 1 or 2 above will be permitted to rely on self-certification in order to return to study during the Covid-19 Restrictions.

Students will not be expected to decide whether they call into categories 2 or 3.  This will be determined at the point the leave of absence application is submitted by the Board of Studies to the University Student Records Team.

Any outstanding debts to the University must be paid before you resume your enrolment.

Failure to inform the University that you intend to return from you leave of absence may result in assumed withdrawal.

If you are unable to return from your current leave of absence you 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

For academic progress issues you should talk to your supervisor.

You may also find the following contacts helpful: