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Leave of Absence - Things to consider

Why are you thinking of taking time out?

Establishing the reasons behind you wanting to take time out is important to assisting you. It is likely that there are other options available to allow you to continue with your studies. You may wish to check out the information on Absence Reporting, Part-time Study, Changing modules/degree, Problems affecting study, S-coding, and Leaving or Withdrawing. However, the University will not put barriers in your way if you have a legitimate case for wanting time out. Common reasons for requesting a Leave of Absence include (but are not limited to):

  • Personal issues These could include caring for a family member, taking a ‘gap-year’, or just wanting to review options. If you will be caring for a family member you should indicate this when requesting a Leave of Absence
  • Bereavement
  • Financial hardship This may include unexpected loss of income, family financial hardship, lack of funding, debt, or any other financial issue.
  • Illness This includes any other illness affecting your ability to study. It is important to see a medical professional while you are unwell because you will need to provide medical documentation indicating that you are fit to return to your studies.
  • Academic Reasons These could include wanting to change your main subject, or deciding to investigate transferring to other Universities. You must take a leave if you are absent from your studies for more than 2 consecutive weeks.

Working out why you want to take time out will determine which adviser in Student Services it is most appropriate for you to see.

Financial Implications

Taking a leave can have a significant impact on your present and future finances. There are factors which you may not have considered and it is important that you have the relevant information before making your decision. For advice contact the Money Adviser, Student Services, Email:

Tuition fees

There are two things to consider regarding tuition fees: whether you are liable for them, and if you are able to request repeat funding.

For information on Tuition Fees liability please see:


Evening degree students

Taught Postgraduates

Research Postgraduates

If you are funded by a public funding body i.e. Student Finance England (SFE), Student Finance Northern Ireland (SFNI), Student Finance Wales (SFW) or Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) or Postgraduate Research Funding:-

SFE, SFNI, SFW and SAAS have a system whereby a student is given one extra year of student funding, this is called plus 1 year of funding. If you have had previous funding or a previous Leave of Absence you should consult the Money Adviser at Student Services to discuss your personal circumstances.

Taught Postgraduates
If funded by a UK funding body, ie SFE, SFNI, SFW or SAAS contact the Money Adviser at StudentServices to discuss your individual circumstances

Postgraduate students will need to contact their funding body to discuss if repeat funding is applicable.

If you are unsure whether you are entitled to repeat funding, or if your repeat funding relies on securing medical or other documentation, you must consult the Money Adviser at Student Services.

SFE, SFNI and SFW have 3 attendance dates when you have to be in attendance/registered to allow your tuition fees to be sent on your behalf to the University. If you are not in attendance on one of these dates, you will be personally liable for the outstanding tuition fee. 

For example:

Fee £9250 on LOA for Semester 1 and Semester 2.

  • Not in attendance/registered on 07/01/19 - liability ¼ (quarter) £2312.50

Fee £9250 on LOA Semester 2

  • Not in attendance/registered on 01/04/19 - liability ½ (half) fee £4625

Fee £1820

  • Not in attendance/registered on 07/01/19 - liability ¼ (quarter) fee £445

Fee £1820

  • Not in attendance/registered on 01/04/19 - liability ½ (half) fee £910

For students funded by SAAS

Students must be in attendance/registered on 01/12/18 to allow the transfer of tuition fees to the University on your behalf. Students will have personal liability of ½ (half) tuition fee if the student takes a Leave of Absence between the End of Week 4 and 01/12/18.

For SAAS funded students who may be considering returning to studies in second semester, depending on circumstances, the student MAY be eligible for tuition fee funding for the Semester 2.  Students who may consider studying 2 different years of study within the one academic year, MAY NOT receive full funding. As the funding system can be complex, you may wish to seek individual advice from the Money Adviser, Student Services, E:

Student funding (SFE, SFNI, SFW)

Some students receive funding for maintence in addition to tuition student loan from SFE, SFNI or SFW. If this is the case, the University will inform SFE, SFNI, or SFW of your Leave of Absence and your last date of attendance.

SFE, SFNI or SFW will recalulate your funding using the last date of attendance. If there has been an overpayment, this will be required to be repaid. If you require a payment plan, this can be arranged.

If your leave of absence is due to medical reasons, SFE, SFNI, SFW can apply an additional 60 days to your last date of attendance prior to recalulating your funding.

A student may be eligible to continue to receive additional student loan at the discreation of SFE, SFNI or SFW, however, this can be very difficult to meet the criteria.

If your Leave of Absence is due to personal reasons, your student loan will cease.

To discuss your individual circumstances, please contact the Money Adviser, Student Services, E:

Other student funding

Student can be funded by a variety of funding bodies and other sources. You will need to contact those funding bodies to check how taking a Leave of Absence will affect your funding.

Accommodation (University and Private)

For students currently living in University owned accommodation, the Terms and Conditions of Occupancy require you to vacate your accommodation during a leave of absence within 5 days. You will be charged accommodation fees, and catering fees where appropriate, up until the end of the Semester in which you leave. If you have any queries please contact Student Accommodation.

If you wish to be considered for University owned accommodation when you return form a Leave of Absence you should ensure your apply online within the time frame advertised on the accommodation webpages. The application form will be available on line usually in the second week of February for one week. You should also check your University email address as an email will be sent out in January to remind students of when to apply. However, you should contact Student Accommodation Services as soon as possible before the start of the session if you are offered accommodation and then find that you are not able to return. We will require a letter of re-engagement before you can return. Email:

Students currently living in private accommodation will need to consult their contract regarding their liability for payment of accommodation fees and breaking the lease.

Taking a Leave of Absence MAY remove the exemption from council tax afforded to students living in private accommodation. However if you are the only person living in the accommodation, you will be entitled to a 25% reduction. Please contact your local council office for further information. Fife Council may continue the exemption if your Leave of Absence is due to medical suspension. Students will be required to send Fife Council a copy of the Leave of Absence letter. For further advice contact Money Adviser, Student Services, Email:

Government Benefits (DWP)

Students on a Leave of Absence are still considered to be ‘a student’ in terms of the Department of Work and Pensions. If your Leave of Absence is due to medical reasons or caring responsibilities you may be eligible to apply for Job-seekers allowance/Universal credit where your responsibilities or health allow you to actively seek work. You can apply for this benefit via your local job centre. You may also be entitled to additional benefits, and you can get more information on these from your local job-centre.

In all other cases, students are not ineligible for benefits (unless they were entitled to these prior to their Leave of Absence).

For benefits advice, please contact the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or contact the Money Adviser, Student Services, Email:

Employment whilst on Leave of Absence

There are no barriers to students on Leave of Absence taking up paid employment if they are fit and able to do so.

Financial Assistance from the University

Students on Leave of Absence are not usually entitled to any financial assistance from the University (e.g. Discretionary Fund). However, in exceptional circumstances support can be explored. Contact the Money Adviser, Student Services, Email:

Academic Implications

There may be other academic options which can negate the need for a Leave of Absence, and these should always be explored. Taking a leave effectively ‘stops the clock’ on your study.

For undergraduates and taught postgraduate students the minimum period of leave is one semester. This can mean you become out of sync with the academic year. You may need to take additional semesters to fit back into the correct semester. For example, students who take a Leave of Absence for Semester 2, often do not return until Semester 2 of the following academic year. It’s best to speak to your School or Prodean (Advising) about this in order to work out what fits for you. However, if you receive funding from Student Awards Agency for Scotland and return to study in Semester 2, you MAY not be eligible to receive tuition fee for the semester. You will be able to receive a student loan. For individual funding advice, contact the Money Adviser, Student Services, Email:

Taught postgraduates must discuss possible Leave of Absence with their Course Coordinator and Director of Teaching.

For research postgraduates, the minimum period of leave is 1 month. They should discuss their situation with their supervisors and require permission from their Supervisor and Director of Teaching to take a leave. For specific information for PGRs click here.

Postgraduate students may be required to submit medical documentation in order for a Leave of Absence to be granted.

It will not be possible to take a Leave of Absence based on poor performance without good reason. If you are unsure whether you have good reason, you may wish to consult Student Services.

Length of leave period and time to complete degree

The minimum length of leave is as indicated above in Academic Implications. Students would normally apply for no more than 1 full academic year of leave. After their leave they would be asked whether they are returning or whether they wish to apply for a further period of leave. Students are not normally granted more than 2 consecutive years of leave.

Taking a leave will almost always result in you taking longer to complete your studies. 

For International Students

If you require a VISA to study (non EEA/EU National) and you are considering taking a Leave of Absence you must seek advice from one of the International Advisers in Student Services, about the implications this will have on your immigration status. If you take a Leave of Absence, you will no longer be fulfilling the conditions of your student visa and the UK Visas & Immigration will expect you to leave the UK and only return when you intend to restart your studies. Failure to comply with these rules could result in enforcement action being taken against you and may mean that you will serve a period of suspension from the UK. As a Sponsor for Tier 4 Students the University is legally required to inform the UKVI that you have suspended your studies; as a result of this your visa will be curtailed and you will have 60 days to leave the UK.  You will be required to make a new visa application in your home country before you return to the UK. You should not attempt to re-enter the UK on your existing visa.

To apply for a new visa you will require a Certificate of Acceptance to Study (CAS); you should contact the International Student Advisers who will process a CAS for you once your academic record has been updated to reflect your new end date; they can be contacted by email at

From 6 April 2015 all Tier 4 students applying to the University of St Andrews will be required to pay an immigration health charge.  The charge will be £150 per person per year for the period of leave applied for.  For students who are returning from a leave of absence:

  • They will have to pay the charge again for the remaining period of study
  • Students who started before the Healthcare surcharge and have subsequently had a leave of absence will now be liable to pay the charge.

Further information on the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge

For advice on how to apply for a new visa please see the International Student pages.

Access to University facilities

Some University services are restricted to those students on leave.

• You cannot live in University owned accommodation whilst on leave.
• The Sports Centre and the Students' Association will review access for students on leave on an individual basis if required.
• Your University email will be unaffected; although you will not have access to computer facilities (with the exception of the library).
• You can contact Student Services either in person, email or telephone.
• Your library account will be suspended during your leave of absence, and you will be asked to return any outstanding items on loan. Students on a leave of absence can opt to pay a £20 deposit in order to borrow up to 10 items. Once your leave of absence is over and your library account is reactivated, your deposit will be refunded after you have returned any items and/or paid any late return fees.

Applying for other educational courses

Care must be taken if wanting to take time out to study elsewhere. If you do not have the correct permissions, it may be considered a fraudulent act. It is better to try and do this in line with current study abroad/exchange programmes, even if you do not want this extra study to be included in your degree.  Studying at another University in the UK may affect the level of funding you would receive when you re-engage with your studies.  Speak to the Money Adviser, Student Services, E: about your plans.


Leave of Absence may affect any dependents or family. There may be financial implications, or in the case of International students, complications with Visas. You may want to discuss your plans with your dependents and also with Student Services.

Ask a question



Advice and Support Centre
79 North Street
St Andrews
KY16 9AL
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1334 (46)2020

Encountered any difficulties?

Not the right match?  If you haven’t formed a good rapport with your Adviser or you’ve encountered any difficulties and wish to speak informally to someone, please contact Ruth Unsworth ( or Lara Meischke (, Deputy Directors of Student Services, in the first instance.

Please also be aware that the University has Complaints Handling Procedure for formally addressing concerns.