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Section 5: Interruption of Study

Published for 2021-22

Interruptions: Student Information

Our Student site now provides all of the key information for Students regarding the new Interruption of Study Procedures, including how to apply and what happens to Fees & Funding, Visas, Accomodation, and more.

This can be found via: Interrupting or withdrawing from your studies


5.1 Introduction5.7 Approval
5.2 Categories of Interruption 5.8 During Interruption
5.3 Extenuating Circumstances Prior to Interruption5.9 Preparing to Return: Three Months Before
5.4 Other Important Factors to Consider When Applying5.10 Welfare Review
5.5 Making an Application5.11 Re-Enrolment
5.6 Date of Interruption and Return 

5.1 Introduction

1.Interruption of Study is for students who wish to take a break from their studies and return at a later date.
2.These regulations should be read in conjunction with:
 a) The Interrupting or Withdrawing from your Studies webpage
 b)Annex 3.1: Interruptions Guidance for Departments
3.Applications are made via the online form in Portico.
4.If students have queries about interrupting or need help completing their application, they should contact their Department in the first instance. Help is also available from the Students’ Union Advice Service and from UCL Student Support and Wellbeing - go to askUCL and log an enquiry.
5.All personal data must be treated confidentially and must only be shared with UCL staff who are directly involved in considering a student’s application. If a student is concerned about disclosing sensitive information to staff in their Department, they should contact their Faculty Tutor for advice prior to completing the interruption request.
6.Where the procedures refer to the ‘Department’, this includes any departmental equivalents within UCL’s organisational structures, such as Division or Institute.

5.2 Categories of Interruption

5.2.1 Category 1: Standard Interruptions

1.For a standard interruption, students need to submit the following and gain approval at Departmental level (each of these requirements is explained in more detail below):
Category 1:A first interruption of up to twelve months for a Full Time or Part Time student
Application Requires:Complete an online Interruption Application Form, including the ‘Return to Study Plan’ section
Approval Required:Departmental

5.2.2 Category 2: Interruptions Requiring a Higher Level of Approval 

1.Some interruptions require students to submit more detailed information and need to be approved at Faculty level (each of these requirements is explained in more detail below):
Category 2aA first interruption of more than twelve months but less than two years for a Full Time or Part Time student (interruptions of more than two years are not permitted)
Category 2bA second interruption of up to twelve months for a Full Time or Part Time student, where the total interruption will not exceed more than two calendar years
Category 2cAn interruption of a Flexible student in their final year of registration
Category 2dAny interruption requiring Repeat Tuition for Academic Reasons (e.g. group work, multi-term modules)
Application Requires:1) Complete an online Interruption Application Form, including the following sections:
  • a) Statement of Need 
  • b) Supporting Evidence
  • c) Return to Study Plan
2) Complete a separate Extenuating Circumstances Form if seeking mitigation for the period leading up to the interruption (see Section 5.3)
Approval Required:
  • Departmental and
  • Faculty and
  • Extenuating Circumstances Panel if seeking mitigation for the period leading up to the interruption (see Section 5.3)

5.2.3 Return to Study Plan (all applications)

1.All students should meet with their Department (either in person, online or on the phone) and together complete the Return to Study Plan section of the online form. 
2.The Return to Study Plan:
 a) Should set out the student’s current academic position, including assessments completed and pending
 b)Should consider the way in which the student will reintegrate with modules and manage their workload on their return
 c)Must identify the main point of contact for support while the student is away and when they return
 d)Must be approved by the Department before the student interrupts.
3.Further information about the Return to Study Plan is available on the Interrupting or Withdrawing from your Studies webpage.

5.2.4 Statement of Need and Supporting Evidence (all Category 2 Interruptions)

1.Category 2 interruptions require completion of the Statement of Need section of the Interruption Application Form and students will need to provide appropriate supporting evidence. See the Interrupting or Withdrawing from your Studies webpage for further details.
 Flexible/ Modular Students (Category 2c only)
2.UCL’s Flexible Mode of Attendance gives students a period of five years in which to complete their studies, and is specifically designed to enable students to fit their modules around their work, family, caring responsibilities and other commitments, including maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave. There is a five-year time limit to ensure that students graduating with a UCL degree are in possession of up-to-date knowledge in their subject area. As a result, Flexible students are only able to apply for an Interruption of Study in their final year. Students must demonstrate a clear and unavoidable need for the interruption in the Statement of Need section of the Interruption Application Form, and provide appropriate supporting evidence.
 Repeat Tuition for Academic Reasons (Category 2d only)
3.The Department should discuss with the student whether they might need to re-attend any classes for academic reasons. Examples include (but are not limited to):
 a) if a student interrupts part-way through a module
 b)if a module runs over more than one term
 c)if a module includes group work

4.If a student needs to re-attend classes for personal reasons (‘Extenuating Circumstances’) they will need to request a ‘Deferral with Tuition’ – see Section 5.3 for further details.
5.Repeat Tuition for Academic Reasons and/ or an earlier Return Date will only be considered for the affected modules.
6.Students must demonstrate a clear and unavoidable need for both the interruption and the repeated period of teaching in the Statement of Need section of the Interruption Application Form, and provide appropriate supporting evidence.

5.3 Extenuating Circumstances Prior to Interruption

1.Interruptions of Study must not be backdated. However there may be times when a student’s performance has already been affected by illness or other Extenuating Circumstances in the period leading up to the interruption and they would like the opportunity to either re-do an assessment or re-attend classes (known as a ‘Deferral’).
2.To access a Deferral, students must also submit a separate claim for Extenuating Circumstances following the procedures in Chapter 4, Section 6 of the Academic Manual, in addition to completing the online Interruption Application Form.
3.Students can apply for a Deferral with or without Tuition:
 Deferral without Tuition
 a) A Deferral without Tuition may be needed to cover any assessments in the period leading up to the interruption which have been affected by Extenuating Circumstances (e.g. the assessment was missed, or performance in the assessment was affected). Students can apply to defer the assessment without additional tuition, and take it again when they return from interruption, without penalty.
 Deferral with Tuition
 a) A Deferral with Tuition may be needed to cover any lectures, seminars, tutorials, supervision, laboratory sessions or other teaching events in the period leading up to the interruption which have been affected by Extenuating Circumstances (e.g. missed classes, low attendance and/or engagement). Students can apply to defer the affected module with tuition, which means that they can attend the classes again and take the assessment when they return from interruption, without penalty.
4.The Extenuating Circumstances Form includes a section for interrupting students to outline their needs in relation to the type and length of Deferral needed.
5.Interruption Applications cannot be approved until the outcome of the associated Extenuating Circumstances application is known. It is therefore important that students submit any Extenuating Circumstances claims and evidence as quickly as possible.

5.4 Other Important Factors to Consider When Applying

1.Students should read the following carefully and discuss any of the issues which apply to them when they meet with their Department. The online Return to Study Plan includes prompts to help the Department guide the student through these issues:
 Professionally-accredited programmes
2.Many UCL programmes are accredited by Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Bodies which have their own criteria and requirements for interrupting which may mean that some options are not available to all students. Departments must ensure that any such requirements are discussed with the student when they meet.
 Students on Study Abroad or Placement
3.Students on Study Abroad or Placement are able to interrupt however UCL cannot guarantee that the student will be able to return to a Study Abroad/ Placement on their return to study. If suitable arrangements cannot be made, students may be required to transfer to an alternative programme without a Study Abroad/ Placement requirement, as a condition of interruption.
 Maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave
4.There are additional entitlements and requirements which apply to students interrupting for maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave. UCL’s Support for Pregnant Students policy provides more information as well as sources of advice.
 Students holding a Student Visa
5.Students holding a Student Visa must leave the UK for the duration of any interruption and re-apply for a new visa in order to return to UCL. Such students must comply with visa requirements to safeguard their immigration status and future entry to the UK. UCL is legally required to notify the immigration authorities of any changes to a student’s status. Further information is available from the Immigration and Visas webpage, and students can also contact the Visa Compliance Team - go to askUCL and log an enquiry.

5.5 Making an Application

1.Applications must be made in advance of the period of interruption. With the exception of cases covered by the regulations in Section 5.3 above, students must continue to engage with their studies until their interruption has been approved.
2.Students are responsible for submitting an application. If it is impossible for the student to make an application for themselves, their next of kin may submit a request on their behalf. 
 a) A member of staff is not permitted to submit an application on a student’s behalf but may assist the student or refer the student for assistance to Student Support & Wellbeing, the Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing team or Student Psychological and Counselling Services.
3.When the Department receives the student’s application and supporting documentation the student will be invited to a meeting (in person, online or on the phone) with their Departmental Tutor, Departmental Graduate Tutor or Programme Leader (the ‘Departmental Approver’) to discuss the interruption, and agree their Return to Study Plan.
4.Following the meeting, the student should complete and submit their online application and any supporting evidence, and ensure that they submit any applications for Extenuating Circumstances that they wish to make (see Section 5.3 above).

5.6 Date of Interruption and Return

 Date of Interruption
1.The Date of Interruption will be the date on which the highest level of required approval is given. It is the date which will be formally recorded in UCL’s student records and communicated to the Student Loans Company and other funding bodies, as appropriate for the individual student.
2.The Date of Interruption must not be back-dated. If a student’s tuition or attendance and/or engagement has already been affected by Extenuating Circumstances, students must separately submit an Extenuating Circumstances claim as described in Section 5.3.
3.Unless a Deferral has been approved via the EC process, students must complete any assessments due before the Date of Interruption. The marks from such assessments will be carried forward.
4.Where the primary purpose of interruption is to avoid assessments (e.g. undergraduate students wishing to interrupt after term 2), the Department may require the student to complete the Statement of Need section of the online application and may ask the student to submit an Extenuating Circumstances claim and evidence. If the EC is not approved, the assessments must be taken and any interruption will commence at the start of the following academic session.
 Date of Return
5.The Date of Return must be recorded before an application can be formally approved.
6.The Default Return Date will be in the Academic Year following the Date of Interruption, at the start of the corresponding term in which the interruption took place.
7.Where a student returns at the Default Return Date they will incur no additional tuition fees, other than those resulting from inflation, for the remainder of the academic session.
8.At the point of interruption, the Departmental Approver and the student should discuss any anticipated changes to the student’s modules upon their return. However UCL reserves the right to change modules, assessments and timetabling from year-to-year in order to maintain an up-to-date curriculum and for reasons of operational efficiency. As a result, a module might not be available upon a student’s return. If there are any affected modules, the Department must contact the student to discuss the options and agree alternative arrangements, such as a module substitution.
9.If an assessment deadline will fall immediately after the Date of Return, this should be taken into account in the Return to Study Plan, and a suitable assessment deadline agreed. 
 Alternative Return Date
10.The Faculty Tutor/ Faculty Graduate Tutor may permit a student to return before the Default Return Date, either to Repeat Tuition for Academic Reasons or, on the recommendation of the EC Panel, to complete a Deferral with or without Tuition, for the affected modules only. The Return Date should be set at the latest date which allows the student to engage with the affected module(s).
11.The Faculty Tutor/ Faculty Graduate Tutor may permit the student to return at the start of the half term in which the student interrupts.
12.The Faculty Tutor/ Faculty Graduate Tutor, in consultation with the Programme Leader and with the approval of the External Examiner, may permit the student to undertake an alternative method of assessment, enabling the student to return at the Default Return Date.

5.7 Approval

 Departmental Approval
1.Departmental approval is required for all applications.
2.After meeting the student and receiving their completed application, the Departmental Approver will make one of the following decisions:
 a) Approve 
 b)Reject
 c)Refer the application to the Faculty Tutor/ Faculty Graduate Tutor to consider an alternative Category of Interruption and/ or an amended Return Date.
3.The Departmental Approver may recommend a Welfare Review with UCL’s Student Support and Wellbeing team as a condition of the student’s return to study (see Section 5.10 Welfare Review).
4.Where applicable, the application will be forwarded to the Faculty Tutor for consideration.
 Faculty Approval
5.Faculty approval is required for Category 2 interruptions and amended Return Dates.
6.Applications requiring a Deferral with or without Tuition cannot be considered until the outcome of the associated Extenuating Circumstances application is known.
7.The Faculty Approver will make one of the following decisions:
 a) Approve
 b)Reject
8.The Faculty Approver may amend the Return Date prior to approval (see Section 5.6: Date of Interruption and Return). 
9.The Faculty Approver may recommend a Welfare Review with UCL’s Student Support and Wellbeing team as a condition of the student’s return to study (see Section 5.10 Welfare Review).
 Communication of Decision
10.Once the final decision is made, the student will be notified of the decision to their UCL email address. Where an application is approved, the notification will include the formal Date of Interruption and Date of Return.

5.8 During Interruption

1.Students are expected to discontinue their studies whilst on interruption.
2.Interrupting students are not enrolled UCL students and do not have access to the full range of UCL services and resources.
3.Interrupting students will retain their access to many UCL electronic resources (including email and electronic resources in the Library) but may find that they are removed from Moodle courses until they re-enrol. Access to the Library, with limited borrowing rights, is available on request.

5.9 Preparing to Return: Three Months Before

1.Three months before the Return Date, UCL Student Records will notify the student, Department, Faculty and relevant sections of Student and Registry Services to initiate the return to study process and commence the following actions:
 a) The student will be asked to confirm their intention to return to UCL, no later than one month before the recorded Return Date. 
 b)The student will have their access to UCL facilities and services reinstated for three months before their return date so that they can start to re-engage with their programme team, module organisers and other students. During this three-month period the student must not attend formal taught sessions, laboratories or similar activities and will not receive formal teaching. Students may seek advice on academic matters and attend staff office hours.
 c)If a Welfare Review is a condition of the student’s return to UCL, Student Support and Wellbeing will contact the student to arrange a date and time to meet (in person or online) (see Section 5.10).
 d)UCL Student and Registry Services must:
  i.Inform the student of when and how to re-enrol.
  ii.Inform the student of the appropriate tuition fees, and how to make payment, apply for necessary funding or provide evidence of sponsorship.
  iii.If applicable, provide advice about arranging a visa for the student’s return.
  iv.Remind the student of the UCL support services which can give advice and guidance.
 e)The Department should:
  i.Remind the student of the modules and assessments which they have already completed, and those on which they need to enrol for the coming year.
  ii.Remind the student of any marks for assessments already taken which will be carried forward.
  iii.Inform the student of any changes to the timetable or programme diet which might affect their Return to Study Plan.
  iv.Reassess the feasibility of the Return to Study Plan.
  v.Introduce the student to their new cohort, if they give their consent to this.
  vi.Arrange an informal one month catch-up to trouble shoot any issues that have arisen.

5.10 Welfare Review

1.Students with queries about returning from interruption are encouraged to contact UCL Student Support and Wellbeing by going to askUCL and logging an enquiry.
2.If a Welfare Review is a condition of returning to study, UCL Student Support and Wellbeing will contact the student approximately three months before they are due to return to arrange a suitable time and date to meet (in person or online).
3.The purpose of the review is to ensure that renewed studies will not be detrimental to the student’s health, or their health to their studies. Students may be asked to provide medical evidence to indicate that they are well enough to live and work in a university environment. Further guidance on types of evidence can be found on the Students webpages.
4.UCL Student Support and Wellbeing will submit a report to the Faculty Tutor/ Faculty Graduate Tutor who will make a decision on whether the student can return to study. 
5.If the Faculty rejects the return to study the student should contact Student Support and Wellbeing as soon as possible to discuss the options. Students may be supported to return to their studies through UCL’s Support to Study Policy and Fitness to Study Procedure.
6.Students who fail to engage with a required Welfare Review will not be permitted to re-enrol.

5.11 Re-Enrolment 

1.When UCL Student Records receives notification of a student’s return, they will reinstate the student’s record and invite the student to enrolment. Students will not be able to enrol until their record is re-instated.
2.Students must have paid the appropriate tuition fees, or provided evidence of sponsorship, before they can re-register.
3.Students must re-enrol within two weeks of their re-registration. Failure to re-enrol may result in the closure of a student’s record. See Section 1.2: Enrolment and Re-Enrolment for further details.
4.Visa national students must present their passport and current visa before they will be permitted to re-enrol.
5.If a student does not re-enrol within the required timeframes, UCL Student Records should close the student’s record.