Accessibility statement

Leave of Absence

Students who are satisfactory in their attendance, submission of work and application to their studies are normally granted Leave of Absence provided that the Board of Studies supports the application. Grounds for leave of absence include: medical, compassionate, financial, motivational, maternity reasons, work experience.

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.

Students will not normally be allowed to repeat periods of study of longer than two whole terms except in exceptional circumstances, since this may give an unfair advantage over other students.

Covid-19 update

Please note that temporary policy changes have been agreed regarding the provision of evidence to support leave of absence requests in light of the Covid-19 situation.  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 Applying for Leave of Absence

  • 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. 

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.

Repeat Study and Leave of Absence


  • 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.






Leave of absences 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).

Recommendations for leave of absence beyond four years may be considered at a hearing of Special Cases Committee rather than by Chair's action. The Committee would look at factors such as:

  • Which year the student is currently in
  • Whether withdrawal and re-start would be preferable
  • The reasons for leave of absence and likelihood of completion
  • The academic feasability of restarting after a long break
  • The academic coherence of the final award
  • Changes to the programme since the leave of absence began.

Criteria and conditions

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

Standard conditions

  • 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 will be permitted full borrowing rights from the University Library
  • Students are not permitted to attend classes either formally or informally
  • Students are permitted access to IT Services facilities

Conditions of return from leave of absence

Ordinarily, 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), 
  • 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.

Covid-19 Update

In light of the Covid-19 situation, academic conditions of return will stand.  There will be some changes to the process for students on medical leave of absence confirming their fitness to return 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.


Who to contact

For academic progress issues you should talk to your supervisor.

Alternatively, please contact:

  • Student Hub
    Student Hub, Market Square
  • Tel: 01904 324140
  • Office Hours: Term time: 9am - 5pm, Monday to Thursday, 10am - 5pm Friday
    Office hours: Vacation: 10am - 4pm, Monday to Friday