(a) This section applies to all students, including research students as well as undergraduate and taught postgraduate students
(b) This section does not apply to students undertaking an optional study-related year out as part of their course.
Reasons for Agreeing to Suspension Requests
Students may, for a variety of reasons, want to suspend their course of study. Students should make their suspension request to their School, and it is for the School to decide whether or not to allow the suspension, so long as proper regard is given to the guidance below. Suspensions should be agreed by the Head of School or somebody within the School who has the requisite delegated authority. In the case of research students who have already had a suspension of a year, approval must be sought from the University (facilitated by the Head of Student Administration) in order to ensure that registration on the course of study is not protracted over a lengthy period of time.
Academic Services Division or equivalent office in Education, the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences or overseas campuses should be informed as soon as a suspension has been agreed. Requests to suspend course should be made in advance of the suspension. Retrospective suspensions of course will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.
The considerations to be applied by the School in making this decision should include:
whether suspension is inevitable due to injury, illness, or unavoidable family commitments; or
the reasons cited by the student indicate that it would genuinely be in their best academic, financial, or personal interest to suspend their studies; and
significant syllabus changes are not likely to occur during the period of suspension such as to make it difficult for the student to resume their studies.
Schools may wish to consider or request supporting evidence from medical or counselling services before agreeing to a suspension of registration.
Implications for the Immigration Status of Overseas Students
If a student is from overseas and has student leave to remain in the UK, suspension of studies has serious implications for their immigration status and they are not permitted to remain in the UK if they are no longer studying. Students in this position should be advised to consult one of the Student Advisers in the International Office before submitting their suspension request to Academic Services Division or equivalent office.
Schools should always remind students of the need to consult their funding (eg Student Finance England or other sponsor) before suspending their registration, and remind them that the University is not able to guarantee the resumption of any external grant or loan. If a student suspends their study and returns to repeat a stage/semester the student will be charged the appropriate tuition fee for the repeat period of study.
For postgraduate students with a Research Council or other funding award, Schools and students will need to ensure that they have prior permission in writing from their funding body before informing Academic Services Division or appropriate office of the suspension and will be required to enclose copies of the related correspondence with the suspension form in confirmation of this. Where students hold an award under the University’s Postgraduate Studentship scheme, the appropriate forms should also be completed and sent to Finance.
Timing of Suspensions
A suspension of registration may begin immediately in cases where a student’s absence from the University is unavoidable or urgently required. In all other cases, the suspension of taught course students must begin from the end of a semester (ie after the end of the examinations attached to that semester) so that there is a clearly identifiable point at which a return to studies should occur. The suspension of a research student’s course will usually commence at the beginning of a month.
Suspensions should not be granted just before the start of examinations simply as a means of allowing students to avoid (or postpone) failure in a number of modules, as this would provide these students with an unmerited advantage.
Period of Suspension
A suspension should, wherever possible, be for a definite period. Where it would seem insensitive to designate a date of return to studies, the student may be informed that the suspension is for an indefinite period but subject to review. In this case, Academic Services Division or equivalent should be informed by the School on an annual basis whether the suspension is continuing. In some cases, it may be appropriate for the School to require a student to provide medical certification of fitness to return to study before allowing re-registration to occur.
All students are expected to complete their course within a set period after initial registration (periods of suspension will not lead to an automatic extension of this period), unless a different maximum period is quoted in the relevant programme specification. These set periods are listed below. Schools may grant extensions on these periods (particularly if there has been a suspension of registration), but can refuse to do so on any grounds of their choosing. Students will be expected to pay tuition fees at normal rates for any extension period:
Undergraduate Certificate 2 years
Undergraduate Diploma 4 years
Ordinary degree 6 years (from initial registration on Honours course)
Graduate Certificate 2 years
Graduate Diploma 4 years
Honours degree 6 years
Bachelor's degree with Foundation Stage 7 years
Veterinary Degree (BVMBVS) 7 years
Integrated Masters 8 years
Postgraduate Certificate 1 year
Postgraduate Diploma 2 years
Taught Masters 4 years
Medical Degree (BMBS five year course) 7 years
Medical Degree (BMBS graduate entry course) 6 years
Practitioner Doctorate 6 years
Where students have changed course, the set period relates to the initial registration on their original course; except where the student is transferring to the beginning of the first stage of a course, in which case the set period relates to the initial registration on the new course.
Where a suspension would lead to an undergraduate student completing their course more than seven years after the date of initial registration (four years for a postgraduate student), the School may require the student to repeat modules already passed where the syllabus for that module has been updated, or to take new modules to replace outdated modules previously passed. In these cases, the marks from the repeated or new modules will replace the marks gained from the outdated modules.
Further links and relevant forms: