Quality Manual

Voluntary interruption of study

This page provides guidance on the process and associated implications that apply when a student wishes to interrupt their studies. This information is relevant to staff and students across all of the UK, China and Malaysia campuses.

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Please note that students in the UK on a Student Route visa are also affected by the University's Policy on Immigration Sponsorship. Where academic policies and immigration policies seem to be contradictory, immigration policies will take precedence. For more information, please consult the following:

Immigration sponsorship 


Students may, for a variety of reasons, want to interrupt their studies. Voluntary Interruption of study is one of the ways the University can support students through personal difficulty and can also be used in other time-limited circumstances (for example, by SU sabbatical officers).

Students should make their request to their school, and it is for the school to decide whether or not to recommend the interruption, taking into account the guidance in other sections.

In the case of research students who have already had an interruption of a year, any further extension will only be approved in exceptional circumstances to ensure that registration on the programme of study is not protracted over a lengthy period of time. 


Request forms – all campuses   Flag of United Kingdom   Flag of China   Flag of Malaysia

Includes: Request to interrupt study forms; notification of withdrawal (from the University)


Effects of interrupting study

Includes: temporary suspension; responsibilities of the student; regulations and rules

When a student interrupts their study, their registration with the University will be temporarily suspended and all relevant authorities (where known) will be informed.

It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that any sponsor or legal requirements are complied with when taking an interruption of study. 


A student whose registration is suspended because of voluntary interruption of study is not entitled to attend any teaching or take any assessments and will not pay tuition fees in accordance with the University’s fee schedule. However, they are still subject to other, relevant regulations of the University, such as the Traffic Regulations, the Regulations for Library and Computer Use and the University’s Code of Discipline for Students.


Approval of interruption of study

Includes: requirements; timings

The relevant Student Service Centre in the UK – or the equivalent office on University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) or University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) should be informed as soon as an interruption has been recommended, in order that in can be approved on behalf of Quality and Standards Committee (QSC) and will confirm the approval and terms of the interruption in writing to the student.

Requests to interrupt should be made in advance of the interruption. Retrospective interruptions of study will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.


Reasons for agreeing to requests to interrupt studies

Includes: considerations by the School; extenuating circumstances; optional placement year

The considerations to be applied by the school in making this decision should include: 

  • Whether interruption is inevitable owing to extenuating circumstances such as 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 interrupt their studies; and
  • Significant syllabus changes are not likely to occur during the period of interruption such as to make it difficult for the student to resume their studies. 

Schools may wish to consider or request supporting evidence (for example, from medical or counselling services) before agreeing to an interruption. For more information, please consult the following:

Extenuating circumstances

In addition, students who wish to take time out of their course to undertake a placement should consult the following:

Optional placement year


Implications for the immigration status of international students in the UK

Includes: ability to repeat modules

If a student is from overseas and has student leave to remain in the UK, interruption 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 Immigration Advisers in the Visa and Immigration Team for immigration advice before submitting their interruption request to the Student Service Centre or equivalent office.

A student's ability to repeat modules in attendance, as detailed in the 'Return to study' section below, may be limited by immigration policy and this should be taken into account when considering a request for interruption.


Funding issues

Includes: postgraduate students with a research council or other funding award; students holding an award under the University's Postgraduate Studentship Scheme; during the period of interruption

Schools should always remind students of the need to consult their funding body before interrupting their study, and remind them that the University is not able to guarantee the resumption of any external grant or loan.

If a student interrupts their study and returns to repeat a stage or semester, the student will be charged the appropriate tuition fee for the repeat period of study.

Postgraduate students with a research council or other funding award

For postgraduate students in the UK 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 the Student Service Centre or appropriate office of the interruption and will be required to enclose copies of the related correspondence with the interruption form in confirmation of this.

Students holding an award under the University's Postgraduate Studentship scheme

Where students hold an award under the University’s Postgraduate Studentship scheme, the appropriate forms should also be completed and sent to the Finance Department. In the UK where a student is supported through research council funding the School should ensure that the appropriate information is submitted to the relevant council and that the Finance Department is informed about any suspension of the stipend.

During the period of interruption

During the period of interruption, students in the UK will not normally receive any statutory student support from the Government (for example, student loans) or any University bursary or scholarship (such as Core Bursary). Students should be advised to contact the Financial Support Team within Student Services for advice on the financial implications of interrupting their studies. For more information, please consult the following:

Funding and financial support


Timing of interruptions

An interruption of study may begin immediately in cases where a student’s absence from the University is unavoidable or urgently required. In all other cases, the interruption of study of taught course students must begin from the end of a semester (that is, 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 interruption of a research student’s study will usually commence at the beginning of a month.

Interruptions 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 interruption and maximum period of study from initial registration

Includes: expectations; completion of programme requirements; School refusal

An interruption 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 interruption is for an indefinite period but subject to review and the review date will be entered into relevant systems. In this case, the Student Service Centre or equivalent should be informed by the school annually whether the interruption 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.

The University requires all students to complete their programme within a set period after initial registration regardless of individual circumstances. These are laid down in the guidelines on Maximum periods from initial registration. For more information, please consult the following:

Maximum period from initial registration

A School should refuse to allow a student to interrupt their study if that would result in it being impossible for that student to complete their studies within the defined time frames or those imposed by external requirements or individual programme specifications.


Return to study

Includes: repeating modules; additional assessment; implications for progression or final award; medical evidence

Where an interruption is granted, the School may require the student (on their return) 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.

Where a student is on an accredited degree or a programme leading to professional registration and their normal period of study has been extended it may be necessary for them to undertake additional assessment in order to prove competency prior to conferral of their award.

A student who has interrupted their study will change cohort on their return to study and the regulations applying to the cohort they have joined will be applicable, which may have implications for their progression or final award for the programme.

In circumstances where the Voluntary Interruption of Study comes as the result of the informal or formal stages of the Fitness to Study policy, the University reserves the right to request specific forms of evidence or assessment from a named body or clinician before return to study is approved.

For more information on the Fitness to Study policy, please consult the following:

Fitness to Study policy

If you have any problems or queries relating to this page, please email Quality-Manual-Enquiries@nottingham.ac.uk  Email
This content was last modified on 10 November 2021

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