Change of circumstances

Many students experience a change in their circumstances during their time at the university. This could be due to illness, personal or family hardships, caring responsibilities, or similar difficulties. When these problems begin to affect a student’s ability to study, it is important to reach out for support and consider the options available. 

The Registry Student Support team sits within the University Registry, providing advice and support for matters relating to students’ changes in circumstance. The team consists of two  Support Officers, one for undergraduate and postgraduate taught students and one for postgraduate research students.

The team works closely with Student Services when students are experiencing difficulties, referring students on where appropriate. The Registry Student Support Officers can provide information if you are considering any of the options below relating to changes in circumstances.

Below are some examples of options available to current students at all levels. For more detailed information and alternative options specific to cohorts, follow the links. 

Leave of absence

A leave of absence is a ‘break’ in your studies. The clock is stopped on your studies, and nothing appears on your transcript for that time. You can apply for a leave of absence for personal or medical reasons.


Re-engagement is the process of returning to the university after a leave of absence. Students must complete an online re-engagement application and notify the Registry Student Support Officers of your intentions.

Change of registration

Change of registration (or re-registration) is when you change your degree for which you are registered to a longer or higher postgraduate degree within the University of St Andrews.

Extension of time

An extension of time to your studies can be granted in exceptional circumstances when a change of circumstances has affected a student’s ability to submit and complete within the time limit.

Change of location

If you need to reside outwith a commutable distance from St Andrews during your studies, you will need to ask permission to change your location. You should submit an application in MySaint, which will need to be approved by your School and Registry. Please note that permission for change of location is granted to taught students during teaching periods only in exceptional circumstances.

Change in mode of attendance

A change in mode of attendance allows students to move from doing a full-time degree to part-time or vice versa to reflect a change in your circumstances. Some rules and regulations differ depending on the mode of study you are undertaking.


A withdrawal is when a student chooses to leave the university permanently. For example, some students may wish to transfer to a different institution or exit with an awards based on the credits you have achieved to date. Students must speak with the relevant Support Officer about your circumstances before officially starting the process.

If you would like to discuss any of these options please contact the relevant Student Support Officer who will be able to guide you through any relevant process, policy or implications based on your circumstances.  

Postgraduate research students should note there may be additional or alternative options for the management of your studies and can find additional information at postgradute research academic changes or by contacting the Student Support Officer for Postgraduate Research Students.