academic advice

Interrupting your studies or taking a study break

'Student Initiated Study Break' is the term university uses if you wish to take a break during your studies.  A student may wish to take a break or interrupt their studies during the Academic year for various reason as it is understood that unexpected events may take place during students lives.

It is to be noted that there may be academic, professional and financial consequences for taking a break and it is extremely important to know these prior to requesting the break.

There are rules and regulations around when students can and can't take a break from their studies. You should read them here (B.8.2 for Home/EU students, C8.1 for international students).

You need to speak with your programme leader or academic adviser to discuss this option.

You may wish to  make an appointment to see us as we will be able to guide you through this.

What is the difference between deferring my studies and taking a break?

Deferring studies can only take place within the first 3 weeks of starting your studies so this will not be considered as taking a break or interrupting your studies. If you wish to do this, please email your request to

After three weeks of teaching any break in study would be considered as a study break.

Students are expected to report any unauthorised absence to the Academic Adviser as the university regulates attendance if you are absent for one consecutive week or more. If you are absent for over a week it is advised that you notify your Academic Adviser and complete the extended absence form which can be found here.

Length of study break

The university would allow a break for 12 months and in only exceptional circumstances will the university consider a break for 24 months.

Speak to your school for Advice and Guidance

In the first instance the student should speak with their Academic Adviser, or programme leader to discuss options, and any fee implications that could occur in taking a break. This is so that students are not surprised by any unexpected situations such as not having to pay fees because of a break. The fees would be calculated from the last date that you stopped attending the course. If a student has attended after a liability point, then they would be liable for fees accordingly. See below for further information in liability points.

You can find out who your Academic Adviser is by logging into Uel Direct, clicking on ‘My Programme’ and then ‘Academic Adviser’.

There are many reasons as to why a student may wish to take a break and we have set out some examples below:

  • Ill health both physical and mental
  • Maternity or difficult pregnancy
  • Financial hardships which were outside your control
  • Family bereavement and student is not coping well

Health and Wellbeing

Where possible the university will try and give advice and support to help carry on with your studies. Of course, this is not always possible after having explored and discussed options. Student are encouraged to seek advice from Student Health and Wellbeing to see if they can be offered a support to help manage their studies.

Pregnant students

If students would like support during their pregnancy it is advisable that they speak to their programme leader to discuss a support plan. We would strongly advised that this is done at the earliest opportunity. A support plan will include a risk assessment to ensure you are safe and no harm caused to your baby. A support plan will also discuss options on taking break, extenuation, fee implications, alternative assessments and return of study.

Students who give birth are not allowed to attend the university for two weeks from the date of giving birth. This two-week absence does not need a submission of extenuation as it is legal requirement. Please click on our link for further advice on maternity, paternity and adoption.

Please see our website section about maternity (insert tab to get to our website section on maternity)

Student obligations whilst on Break

If you have requested a break after a module has completed (mainly Term 1) the student would be required to submit their work even if a break has been actioned.

If the student cannot submit the work whilst on a break they will have to submit an extenuation form where they would need to show that their situation was unforeseeable, unpreventable and had a serious impact on their ability to meet the assessment. The student would need to provide evidence to support the extenuation claim. Being on a break will not be sufficient reason for a successful extenuation claim, so we strongly advise that the student provide evidence such as a medical letter.

International students

Those who are on a TIER 4 Visa should be extra careful as there will be implications on their visa such as being required to return to their home country. The student should reacquaint themselves with their responsibilities where it is recommended that students should not take a break unless it is an exceptional circumstance, or the student is forced by the regulations to take a break

It is therefore important they speak with an Immigration Adviser at the International Compliance Team. They can be contacted by email on

Postgraduate students/PGR/PhD

Postgraduates should speak to their school regarding a break and should and should not request a break from the hub unless they have discussed this with the school as the rules may vary.

If the student would like advice on fee implications for taking a break they can seek advice from Student Money Advice and Rights Team (SMART) Phone: 020 8223 4444 or Email:

What will happen next?

Once the intermission request is submitted the university will provide a response to you. If the request has been granted you will be provided information on when you are due to return to your studies.  They will inform all relevant bodies that your intermission has been granted.

So, the process to take a break is as follows:

  • A request must be submitted to the hub by sending them an email on (there is a form that is yet to be created for a student to take a break)
  • Request considered and discussed with the school
  • Student is notified of the outcome (student should continue engaging with studies until they receive a favourable outcome)

Returning from study break

You might find it helpful to start planning your return before you are due back. You should get in touch with your Programme Leader/Academic Adviser before returning to studies.

You may wish to utilise any support services available during this time. For those who suffer from long time condition should notify the Disability and Dyslexia team, so any reasonable adjustments can put forward.

The following is about the liability points upon when a student would be liable for fees once they take a break.

Undergraduate, including RIBA part 2, Integrated Masters and PGCE programmes (UK/EU)

Section 17.6 of the UEL’s Tuition Fee Policy 2019/20 states - All students will be liable for the following amounts of t fees in the event of withdrawal or interruption:

  • You will be liable for a percentage of fees for your programme / module as set out below:
  • If you have applied for a Tuition Fee loan from the Student Loan Company (SLC) or Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) we will advise them of your withdrawal / intermission and the fees you will be required to repay will be in line with their regulations.

Fee Liability

September Start
*See Academic Calendar for dates of each term

Non-September Start
*See Academic Calendar for dates of each term


Start on Monday Term 1 teaching week 3

Start on Monday Term 1 teaching week 3


Start on Monday Term 2 teaching week 1

Start on Monday Term 2 teaching week 1


Start on Monday final term teaching week 1

Start on Monday final term teaching week 1

Postgraduate Taught, excluding PGCE, RIBA part 2 and Integrated Masters

Fee Liability

September Start
*See Academic Calendar for dates of each term

Non-September Start
*See Academic Calendar for dates of each term


Start on Monday teaching week 3

Start on Monday teaching week 3


Start on Monday Term 2

Start on Monday Term 2

Academic Calendar

All students should check the Academic Calendar so they are aware of the important dates during the year.

Fee Refunds

The University says student are entitled to request for a refund for the following reasons:

  • Overpayment of your tuition fees
  • Withdrawal from the programme
  • Being funded by Student Finance England or a sponsor
  • Visa rejection

For further information please see the Fees Policy for the Academic Session 2019.