Leaving your research degree early

While we hope everything goes well with your studies, sometimes things don’t quite go to plan.

If you’re thinking about permanently leaving university before completing your studies, support is available to help you make a decision that’s right for you. 

If you are considering leaving the University either temporarily or permanently before completing your studies, please discuss this with your supervisor, Director of Postgraduate Research Studies (DPGRS) or Graduate School.

Withdrawing from the University may affect your maintenance grant, scholarship or doctoral loan payment so please contact your sponsor if you are thinking about leaving. If you have a University of Leeds scholarship or loan, please see the Fees and funding section below for more information.

If you are an international student, leaving your studies will have implications for your visa. See the Your visa section below for more information.

Please ensure that you monitor your university emails during your enquiry.

Leaving temporarily

If you wish to leave the University temporarily, you can request an authorised absence or a suspension through GRAD. The Taking time out from your research page on the For Students website has more information and guidance on these options.

Asking for support

If you’re thinking about permanently leaving the University, talk to your supervisors, Graduate School or DPGRS. They’ll tell you how your school can support you and suggest any different options you might not have considered, so you can make an informed decision and understand the processes involved. You can read more about other assistance available to you on the Help and Support pages or the Postgraduate support and wellbeing page on the For Students website.

Your Visa

If you have a Student or Tier 4 Visa and permanently withdraw from your studies, you will be required to leave the UK. The University is required to report all permanent withdrawals to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). You should seek immigration advice from the Student Visa Advice team on StudentVisaAdvice@leeds.ac.uk

If you are an international student with a Tier 4 visa and are considering transferring to another university, you will need to check that they can assign you a new Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). You may need to leave the UK to make another visa application.

Fees and funding

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). Please refer to the section “Process – how to become a permanent leaver” for more details on leaving dates. Once the dates are recalculated,  if the university owes you money for fees paid the Fees team will arrange to refund the account used for the original payment. They will contact you on your personal email address, so please check with your Graduate School that we have the correct address. 
Find out more about fee payments when leaving the University early.
There are some situations where you may lose some, or all, of your student financial support:
•    If you receive funding, such as a Doctoral Loan, overseas loan eg American Federal Loan, military funded schemes etc, you should contact funding@leeds.ac.uk
•    If you hold a scholarship that is administered by the central University Research Degree Scholarships Office, you should contact pg_scholarships@leeds.ac.uk
•    If you hold a scholarship that is administered by your school or faculty, you should contact your Graduate School.
•    If you are a sponsored PGR, you should contact your sponsor to find out how your funding might be affected.
For further information and independent support, you can contact Leeds University Union Advice.

The process of permanently leaving the University

You should check your university emails throughout this process. You will not be classed as a leaver until the process has been completed and we may need to contact you at various points.
Contact your Graduate School to discuss your plans. They will offer to meet with you to talk through your available options. 
They may suggest you get advice from the following people: university/LUU support services, the Fees and Funding teams, the Student Visa Advice team, the Accommodation team. You should also speak to your supervisor.
(If you are considering an authorised absence or suspension from your studies, your Graduate School will advise you on this process instead of permanent leave.)
Following your meeting with your Graduate School you will be given the option of more time to consider your decision. If you have any questions, you can discuss these with your Graduate School Officer.
If you decide to leave permanently, you should complete the leavers form and return it to the Graduate School office promptly from your university email address, confirming in the email that you wish to permanently leave the university and your leaving date. The leaving date should be the date that you wish to leave the University; this should be within 10 working days of submitting your form to your Graduate School. This will be used by Doctoral College Operations as an indicative date only.
Your Graduate School will check this form and will forward it to Doctoral College Operations, who will update your record and make you a permanent leaver. Your University IT account will close immediately when your record is updated and you will no longer have access to your Leeds University email address. You should hand over any data/IP to your supervisor. You may need to meet any school-specific requirements, for example, returning any keys etc to your parent school. Your Graduate School will let you know if this is something you need to do.

Leaving in the first 14 days: cancelling your contract

After you have received your academic offer and up to 14 days after your start date (your start date is noted on your offer letter), you may cancel your agreement with the University and withdraw from your study, without reason. For more information and to cancel your contract, please see the Student Contract.


If you’re in University accommodation, check the notice period on the Accommodation webpage to see when you will need to continue paying accommodation fees. 

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

Council Tax

It is your responsibility to inform the council if your circumstances change and you’re no longer a full-time student. There could be legal implications if you fail to notify the council of any changes. More information is available on the Council Tax exemption webpage of the For Students website.