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Taking a break in studies

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Taking a break in studies is a significant decision, to be used when your personal circumstances mean that you cannot continue with your studies and can resume at a later date. These could include:

  • Health reasons - physical and wellbeing
  • Personal or domestic problems
  • Bereavement/family illness
  • Financial difficulties
  • Work Placement
  • Changing course

If your circumstances are affecting your assessment, please refer to the policy on exceptional circumstances and speak to your Academic Mentor.

Practical considerations

Before taking a break in studies, there are a number of things to consider.

  • Having a break in studies would mean you are no longer studying with the same group of people
  • Your course may have changed or may not be available when you decide to return
  • A break in studies:
    • can be for a minimum of one semester to a maximum of one year;
    • should not be within one month of the assessment period in the academic calendar;
    • will still count towards your registration period.
  • When you return, you'll need to re-start any incomplete modules as any previous marks will be cancelled

We'll make sure you have access to information, guidance, and support when deciding if a break in studies is possible, and if it's the right thing for you.  We'll support you during your break, and when you return to study.

How do I take a break in studies?

If you're thinking of taking a break in studies, we recommend you liaise with your Course Leader/Personal Tutor/Academic Mentor. If you're having problems on the course or financial difficulties, there may be other options.

If you decide to go ahead with your break, speak to Student Guidance who will discuss the financial and accommodation implications with you. You would then see your Personal Tutor to agree the break in studies, communication preferences while you are taking a break, and your proposed return date. The form can be completed online.

Your completed form will be sent to the Academic Registry to record your break in studies. You can retain a copy of your online form, with details of the dates your break in studies started and the proposed return dates and any useful links and resources you may need while you are away.

You may also want to contact the Careers and Personal Development Team at Staffordshire who can support you with looking for work while you're taking a break, if appropriate to your circumstances.

Can I access University facilities while I'm taking a break in studies?

Yes, our students can continue to access all facilities at Staffordshire whilst taking a break in studies, including the Library and support from the Careers and Personal Development Team. You can also access Student Support. All of our services are now accessible online, so it doesn't matter where you live, you can still get support.

How will this affect my finances if I'm an Undergraduate?

There are implicatons to taking a break in studies which have an impact on your funding from Student Finance England. It's important you discuss these with Student Guidance before making a decision.

Generally, you will be charged tuition fees for this academic year based on your withdrawal date, pro rate to that year's funding. If you take a break in the first four weeks of the academic year, you will not be charged tuition fees.

Your entitlement to maintenance loan will be recalculated. You can recieve funding for the length of your degree programme plus one additional year, so this will have an impact on the funding you recieve when you return if, for example, you have already used your repeat year funding, you should discuss your options with the Student Money & Guidance Advisors Team.

There are different rules for international students.  Please speak to the Student Money & Guidance Advisors Team about claiming benefits whilst taking a break in studies.

Financial implications for postgraduates

The implications are the same as for undergraduate students, with the addition of if you recieve a postgraduate student loan.  In most cases you will not be entitled to recieve any further funding if you repeat a year of the course, unless there are exceptional reasons, however please discuss your options with the Student Money & Guidance Advisors Team.

What about my accommodation?

University accommodation

Briefly, if you take a break in studies within two weeks of the start date of your licence you will be entitled to receive a refund of any accommodation fees you have paid, less a pro-rata deduction for the length of time you have had the keys, and minus a prepayment of £250.

If you take a break in studies after the first two weeks of the start date of the licence, you will continue to be
responsible for the license fees only until the end of the licence period in which you take the break, provided you hand in the keys to the main ResLife Hub before the end of the licence period.

You won't be eligiible to stay in University accommodation until your student status is restored. Please see Staffordshire University's Accommodation Licence Agreement for more information.

Private accommodation

If you rent from a private landlord or live in a non-University Hall of Residence, your tenancy agreement may state that you will remain liable for any rent up until the end of the contract. Please talk to your Students' Union Advice Team or Student Money & Advice Guidance Team for advice.

What do I need to do while I'm taking a break in studies?

While you are taking a break in studies, continue to check your University email address for important information.

You will be contacted periodically by the University, including postcards to keep you updated on what's happening at Staffs.

You will be informed of any module/course changes relating to your studies by email.

International students

If you are an international student and you hold a Student Visa, we will inform the Home Office when you start your Leave of Absence and you will then be required to leave the UK as your current visa will be curtailed (cancelled). A few months prior to returning to the University, it will be necessary for you to request a CAS and apply for fresh Entry Clearance in order to return to the UK and resume your studies For international students returning from a break in studies it is important that you discuss your return to Staffordshire with the International Student Support team.

The option of part-time study

In some circumstances, if you are a full-time student, instead of taking a break in studies it may be possible to convert to part-time study. This may apply if you wish to take a break in studies for health reasons. This will, of course, increase the length of time your studies take and you will graduate later than you would have done had you continued with full-time study. Not all courses can be studied part-time, so it's very important to talk to your Personal Tutor/Academic Mentor or Student Money & Guidance Advisors Team before considering this option and to see if you are eligible.

Apprenticeships

If you're on an Apprenticeship programme, there is a different process for taking a break in studies. Please contact the Apprenticeships Team at apprenticeships@staffs.ac.uk for more information.

What's the process for returning?

You may be required to enrol again, and you will recieve an invitation to do so. If you are returning from a break in studies for health and wellbeing reasons, please discuss with your Course Leader/Personal Tutor/Academic Mentor. You need to apply for funding from Student Finance before you return, so the money can be approved and released to you in good time.

Welcoming you back

You will be invited to a Welcome Back event at the start of the semester you return, and a school/department Welcome Back run by the academic team. These are currently held online.

It's not easy returning to study after a break - whatever the reason - and we want you to know that we're here to support you. We have a wealth of support available to help you re-integrate into University life. We're all different and we all need different kinds of support.

The important thing to remember is that we're here if you need us. For more information on returning to University and the support available, please see our Welcome Back handbook.