Taking time out or leaving Leeds early

If you’re finding it hard to continue with your studies, talking to someone who can help is the first step. In some cases, you might consider taking time out of your studies for an agreed break, known as temporary leave. You might also consider permanently leaving your course, known as permanent leave. 

This page describes how to get support, steps to follow, and the implications of leaving temporarily or permanently. The main key steps for you to take are:

•    Contact someone who can help
•    Find out your options and their implications
•    Communicate your decision
•    Complete paperwork
•    Make other arrangements needed
•    Keep in touch if you are returning

Contact someone who can help 

Your Student Support Office in your School are the key team responsible for supporting you through your studies. It’s best to talk about any issues early on so you can have the right support in place. If you are considering stopping your studies, you can get in contact with your Student Support Office using this Leavers Enquiry Form, following which a member of staff will contact you to arrange a meeting. Filling in this form is not a commitment to leave the University, but instead an opportunity to find support and advice before you make any final decisions. In the meeting, the staff member present can tell you how your School can support you, suggest any different options you might not have considered, and point you to resources so you can make an informed decision.

If you feel like you need confidential support extra to your School, you can contact Leeds University Union Advice, or the University Chaplaincy. If you are reading this page because you don’t know whether you can get help for the situation you are in, you can browse our list of recommended resources and self help. The Careers Centre also has dedicated resources and staff who can help you think through your options and future plans. 

Find out your options and their implications

Before you make a decision, we strongly advise you to discuss the possible implications on your finances, living situation, visas and later study options with your parent school and other relevant teams. We’ve summarised some of the top areas below.

Academic implications

The impact of time out on your studies is very personal to the modules you are studying, and the point at which you are taking time out or leaving permanently. Your School should be able to tell you what will happen to your current modules, and set out a plan for both leaving and, if relevant, returning to continue with your studies. This plan will have an impact on other areas mentioned on this page.

Immigration implications (international students)

If you’re an international student, taking temporary leave may affect your immigration status so it’s essential you get advice from the Student Visa Advice. The University will be required to report any change of circumstances to UK Visas and Immigration. Please read the information the information on the International Student Advice and Support webpage

Fees implications

If you leave before the end of your course, your fees are calculated based on your leaving date and not your last date of attendance, unless these dates are the same. If your account is in credit once the fees are recalculated, refunds will be made to the account from which the original payment was made. Find out more about fee payments when leaving the University early.

Student funding implications

There are some situations where you may lose some, or all, of your student financial support. If you’re taking a loan from the Student Loans Company, read how your funding may be affected. For more information and support you can contact Leeds University Union Advice and your funding body, to find out how leaving might affect your future studies and the way you’re funded.

Council Tax implications

If you take permanent or temporary leave, this can have implications on your eligibility for council tax exemption. If you wish to discuss your individual situation, contact Student Advice in Leeds University Union.

Accommodation implications

If you’re in University accommodation check the accommodation page on exiting your accommodation contract, to find out your rights and what timelines and fees will apply to your contract. In addition to the ‘request to exit accommodation contract’ form, the accommodation team will require a copy of your (authorised) leaver’s request form, as proof of your permanent or temporary withdrawal from study.

If you’re in private-sector accommodation check the terms of your contract with your accommodation provider. Leeds University Union Advice can offer advice on your rights and dealing with your landlord in this situation.

Teaching and assessment implications

If you take temporary leave, you will discuss your academic progress as part of the conditions of return with your school. This will include what level of teaching you should return to, whether you need to resit any assessments and other details to ensure you can continue to progress on your course.

If you leave the University temporarily after the eighth week of teaching in either semester, special rules apply. The reasons for you leaving must be sufficient to excuse you from any exams and assessments you have for that semester’s teaching session. If your reasons are insufficient to excuse you, you’ll be expected to complete these examinations and assessments, or if you don’t complete them, you may be recorded as 'absent’. You must consult your parent school in these circumstances to clarify your situation. 

If your circumstances have affected your assessments already or will affect assessments you are required to take, your school might ask you submit a mitigating circumstances request alongside your leave request.

Complete a formal request

Your school will complete a leaver’s form with you that you will need to authorise, by sending it back from your University email address to your school with a specific authorising statement. If you are not sure of any terms or details, check with your school. Email your completed leavers’ form to your parent School, stating that you have read the ‘student declaration’ included on the form and you authorise the request for leave attached. Your School will submit the request to the relevant team, and your School will be notified once your leave is approved.

If your school submits your request for temporary leave it will be for a specified period of absence. Your school can standardly request up to a year of temporary leave at any one time. You will need to agree with your school what date you would be expected to return to your studies. If you know there is a chance you might not be able to return to study at the expected return date, then you should agree dates for reviewing your expected return date and discuss what the consequences of not returning at that date would be.

Make other arrangements needed

You should by this point know the implications of your leave request, and so you’ll likely have a few things to follow up. The top tasks are listed on the Preparing to leave Leeds page. 

A note on your temporary/ permanent leaving date 

The leaving date finalised on your student record (Banner) by the University’s Operations team reflects when the leave request is fully approved by the University. Where possible it is based on the leaving date requested, usually as on a taught student leavers' form, submitted by your School with your agreement. However, the leaving date requested is used as an indicative date only and may not be used if not within certain timeframes and regulations – your school can advise on how your situation sits within these. For this reason, your school will advise you of the requested leaving date to be used on your form. 

Keep in touch if you are returning

Remember to keep in touch with your school. You can use the support of your school and relevant campus services while you’re preparing to return or considering future plans.
A member of staff in the student office in your school will contact you before your planned return date to ask if you will be returning to the University at the end of the agreed temporary leave period.

If you don’t feel ready to return to the University at the end of the approved period, you must contact the student office to discuss your options further.

It’s important that you keep the University informed of your plans. If you don’t return to the University and you don’t contact the student office in your school to ask for approval to extend your temporary leave, they’ll presume you have decided not to return and have left the University permanently. If you’re a sponsored student, the University will report to your sponsor that you have left.

If you took leave temporarily for health reasons, you may need to provide written evidence from a registered medical professional that you’re fit to return to your studies before you can re-register and start back at the University. This is so we can be sure you’re well enough to return and we can support you as needed. Students studying courses related to healthcare are likely to require an occupational health clearance before returning (check this with your school).

If you have a long-term health condition contact Disability Services as soon as possible before you return, to discuss your support needs.


Finally, remember you are not alone in needing to take time away from your studies. There are lots of resources to support your decision and your school is always available to talk to, give advice or signpost you to other areas of support such as the Students Union or Student Counselling and Wellbeing.