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Interrupting or withdrawing from your studies

This information is for students who are thinking about taking a formal break from their studies, it explains what you need to do, what happens to your funding and how you restart your programme.

This information is general guidance; it is important to discuss your situation with your department and other relevant services to ensure you have the correct information for your specific circumstances. 

If your course has a fitness to practice or fitness to teach element, for example a MBBS or PGCE, your return to study will be handled by your department and Occupational Health and Wellbeing. This may also be the case for some research students.

This guidance includes:


If you are thinking of interrupting

Before making the decision to interrupt your studies, it is important to consider your options. In the first instance, you should consult someone from your department who you feel comfortable enough to discuss this with. They can offer you advice on the interruption process, dates of your interruption as well as the specific academic consequences of interrupting e.g. module availability. This could be a personal tutor, departmental tutor or administrator. If you are a research student this could be your supervisor. 

In most cases, students interrupt for up to one year. However, this varies depending on individual circumstances and the reason for interruption. You should talk to an appropriate tutor or administrator in your department who will be able to offer further guidance on the lengths and dates of your interruption.

Fee liability

Depending on the fees that have been paid and the date you interrupt or withdraw, you/your sponsor may be eligible for a fee refund. Please note that students interrupting and returning in a different academic year will still be liable for the inflationary fee increases of up to 5% annually. 

Non-Affiliate students (academic year programme) - includes the majority of undergraduate programmes

If you are registered as full-time or part-time and you interrupt or withdraw:

  • within 2 weeks of term 1, you will not incur any fees
  • after the first 2 weeks but within term 1, you will be charged 25% of the full fee
  • in term 2 you will be charged 50% of the full fee
  • in term 3 you will be charged 100% of the full fee

Postgraduate Taught or Research students (calendar year programme) enrolled as full-time or part-time

Fees are charged on a daily basis for the period enrolled in each academic year. If you interrupt or withdraw within 2 weeks of term 1, you will not incur any fees.

Postgraduate students enrolled on a modular/flexible basis

Fees are charged for the modules registered on your Portico account. If you interrupt or withdraw within 2 weeks of term 1, you will not incur any fees.

Undergraduate Affiliate students (academic year programme)

If you interrupt or withdraw:

  • within the first two weeks, you will not incur any fees
  • after the first two weeks but in term 1, you will be charged 45% of the full fee
  • in term 2, you will be charged 90% of the full fee
  • in term 3, you will be charged 100% of the full fee

Postgraduate Affiliate students (calendar year programme)

Fees are charged on a daily basis for the period enrolled in each academic year. If you interrupt or withdraw within 2 weeks of term 1, you will not incur any fees.

Funding

Student Finance funding (Undergraduate)

When you interrupt, your faculty sends a ‘change of circumstance’ (CoC) notification to your funding provider (e.g. Student Finance England, Student Finance Wales, Student Finance Northern Ireland or Student Awards Agency Scotland), notifying them of your last date of attendance. Normally, all funding is then paused from this day. However, there are some circumstances in which you may be able to receive funding after this point.

When you return to UCL, the university notifies your funding provider that you have returned and your funding will start again.

If your last date of attendance is part way through a term, you may have already received an instalment of maintenance loan/grant money, and therefore received money for time that you will not be in attendance. In these cases your funding provider may say you have received an ‘overpayment’ and ask for some of that money back.

The rest of the information in this section relates to Student Finance England regulations and procedures around interruption of studies. If you use one of the other funding bodies (Student Finance Northern Ireland, Student Finance Wales, Student Awards Agency Scotland) we would advise you contact them directly to find out how interruption is treated.

An extra 60 days for health reasons

If you interrupt for health reasons, mental or physical, your faculty will make a note of this on the CoC that they send to your student loans provider. You will then be automatically granted an extra 60 days of funding from your last date of attendance.

Maintenance funding for the rest of the academic year

In some cases, your funding provider may be able to extend funding for more than 60 days if you can prove that you will be in financial hardship without continued funding. In order to receive this you must have interrupted due to ‘compelling personal reasons’ (CPR) which usually means mental or physical health, personal or family crisis - and be able to prove this with evidence provided by professionals. You must then evidence that you would be in financial hardship without the continued funding for example tenancy agreement, utility bills and other financial obligations.

How interruption affects your entitlement

The year that you interrupt your studies will be deducted from your overall entitlement to a Student Finance tuition fee loan.

However, if you interrupted for 'compelling personal reasons' and can submit evidence of this to Student Finance, they may agree not to deduct your interruption year from your overall entitlement.

Find out more about how interrupting affects entitlement to Student Finance funding and how to submit evidence of 'compelling personal reasons' for interruption to Student Finance.

Contact Student Finance if you have any questions about how your interruption will affect your student loans.

You can also contact a Student Funding Adviser if you experience issues with Student Finance

Student Finance funding (Postgraduate Master's Loan and Postgraduate Doctoral Loan)

If you are receiving a Postgraduate Master’s Loan or Postgraduate Doctoral Loan from Student Finance and take an interruption of study, no further loan payments will be given to you after you interrupt.

If you resume your studies from the point you left off in the previous academic year, your funding will restart and you will have your remaining entitlement intact.

You cannot receive Postgraduate Master’s Loan or Postgraduate Doctoral Loan funding for any repeat periods of study.

Contact Student Finance if you have any questions about how your interruption will affect your student loans.

You can also contact a Student Funding Adviser if you experience issues with Student Finance

UCL Undergraduate Bursary

When you interrupt, your UCL Bursary stops. If you interrupt part way through the term, it may be considered that you have received an overpayment and the Student Funding team may give you the option to pay the money back or have the amount deducted from your next instalment when you return.

When you return, your UCL bursary payments start again.

Information on the UCL Undergraduate Bursary can be found on the UCL funding pages.

Contact studentfunding@ucl.ac.uk if you have questions about how interruption will affect your UCL Undergraduate Bursary.

PGCE Training Bursary

When you interrupt, your PGCE Training Bursary payments will stop. If you interrupt before the 5th of the month, you will not receive that month’s instalment.

When you return, you will not receive PGCE Training Bursary payments for months that you have already been paid for in the previous academic year.

Information on PGCE Training Bursaries can be found on the UCL funding pages.

Contact ittfunding@ucl.ac.uk if you have questions about how your interruption will affect your PGCE Training Bursary.

PhD Funding - Stipends

If you interrupt as a PhD student, you must let your funding provider know. Your funding will then be paused, resuming when you return.

If you are interrupting for pregnancy or maternity/paternity/adoption leave, speak to your funding provider about financial provision that may be available to you.

Council Tax

If you are a full-time student and interrupt your studies, you will continue to be exempt from Council Tax.

Withdrawing from your course will mean you are no longer considered a student for Council Tax exemption purposes.

Accommodation

UCL Accommodation 

If you are in UCL Halls, taking an interruption will mean you will be required to leave your room as you are no longer enrolled as a student at UCL. For more information on this please see UCL General Regulations and Guidance or email the accommodation team.

Private Student Accommodation

The implications of your interruption will depend on your accommodation provider. You will need to review your agreement and discuss your circumstances with an appropriate staff member at your accommodation. You may be required to leave the accommodation because you are no longer a registered student. It is likely you will be liable for some fees and in some cases, you may be required to find a replacement tenant. 

We strongly advise students to contact the University of London Housing Services and UCLU Rights and Advice Centre who can offer you guidance and information regarding these issues. 

Private Accommodation 

If you live in private accommodation, it’s unlikely there will be an obligation for you to leave following a change to your student status. However, you may choose to leave and return home, in which case, you must consider the terms of your tenancy agreement and what this means for you. This can be complex and confusing, so we strongly recommend you seek advice from UCLU Rights and Advice. If you decide to stay in your private accommodation it is important to note that as you are no longer a full time student, you may be required to pay Council Tax. 

Again, we strongly recommend you contact UCLU Rights and Advice about this and the University of London Housing Services for advice.


International students

If you are an international student with a Tier 4 visa, you are obliged to leave the UK for the duration of your interruption. The law means that UCL must inform the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) of any changes to your student status. 

Once your interruption has been processed, you will receive an email to confirm that sponsorship has been withdrawn and you should make arrangements to leave the UK within 60 days of UCL’s report to UKVI. You will then need to apply for a new visa before you return to UCL .


Apply to interrupt your studies

Undergraduate and postgraduate taught courses

Once you have made the decision to interrupt and have discussed this with your department, you will need to submit an Interruption Form to your department. Your department will advise you if there is any supporting documentation you need to submit. 

 

Applications for first interruptions of up to one calendar year require departmental/divisional and Faculty approval. The Faculty will notify Student Records.

Applications for repeat interruptions or those in excess of one calendar year will require the approval of the Vice-Provost (Education and Student Affairs) in addition to that of the department/division and Faculty.

Students enrolled on a flexible mode of study are not permitted to interrupt their studies. However, in exceptional circumstances students may be eligible for a deferral of assessment under the Extenuating Circumstances regulations in the academic manual.

Postgraduate Research students

If you are a research student, you will need to apply for an interruption to your studies by submitting the form to your supervisor.   You may apply for an interruption of up to one year in the first instance and for a maximum of two years in total.


During interruption

Staying in touch

In order to support your return to UCL, a few teams will need to contact you. You will still have access to your Portico account and it is extremely important that you keep all your details up-to-date as UCL will need to contact you before your return. You will also have access to your UCL email but your ID cards will no longer work.

During your interruption you may find it helpful to stay in contact with an appropriate person in your department such as your Personal Tutor. This is not compulsory but it can offer a good point of contact upon your return. It is your responsibility to initiate and maintain this contact.


Before you return to your studies

Please note: For any students with a fitness to practice or fitness to teach element, for example MBBS, PGCE your return to study will be handled by your department and Occupational Health and Wellbeing. This may also be the case for some research students.

You must email your department one month before your expected date of return to confirm that you intend to re-enrol. Your department must then confirm this with the Students Records team. You will not be able to re-enrol until Students Records have reinstated your record. 

If your department have requested you have a Return to Study check with the Support and Wellbeing team (SSW) they will email you about 3 months before your return to arrange your support. 

Returning after an interruption for health reasons

If you are returning from a period of interruption that was taken for health and wellbeing reasons, you may be required to provide medical evidence and a supporting statement to indicate that you are well enough to live and work in a university environment. If this is the case, Student Support and Wellbeing will email you prior to your return to request this documentation. You will need to provide assurance that your studies will not be detrimental to your health or your health to your studies, and may be required to have an appointment with the Student Support and Wellbeing team before you will be allowed to re-enrol. 

Your medical evidence should meet the requirements outlined in the UCL Medical Evidence Guidance. It is important that you read the guidance carefully to ensure your medical evidence fulfils the requirements. This needs to be completed by a qualified medical practitioner. We can consider medical evidence from a: 

  • GP
  • psychiatrist
  • psychologist
  • therapist
  • counsellor 
  • psychological wellbeing practitioner

This needs to be printed on headed paper or stamped by the health practice or service. If it is only possible to provide the evidence in an email form, your medical practitioner must send it directly to Student Support and Wellbeing and include their registration number and full name in the email. 

You will also need to write a brief personal statement outlining the following: 

  • confirmation that you feel fit to return to your studies 
  • any support you have had during the time of interruption 
  • any arrangements for on-going support 
  • any further support you feel would be beneficial for you as you continue your studies at UCL
  • if any specific support is recommended in your medical evidence and is not currently in place, explain how you will go about following the relevant recommendations

It is important you address all the points outlined here to fulfil the requirements. 

Fees and funding

Student Finance (Undergraduate and Postgraduate)

Students who wish to receive funding when they return must apply for financial support from their funding provider for the upcoming academic year in good time before returning.

When you apply, your funding provider will run an assessment and calculate what you are entitled to. You will not receive any of your funding prior to arriving back at university, so it is a good idea to arrive with a little money of your own to support you before your loan/grant money comes through.

International students

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa you will need a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) number before you can apply for your visa. Before you can apply for a CAS, you will need to send your medical evidence and personal statement to Student Support and Wellbeing. Once this has been reviewed we will contact the UCL Visa Compliance team, who can issue you a CAS number. Therefore, it is important you send this to us as soon as possible after our initial request.


Extend your interruption

If you wish to extend your interruption, you should contact your department in the first instance, as they will need to approve this extension.


Withdrawing from UCL

If you wish to withdraw completely from your studies at UCL, contact your department in the first instance and they will be able to offer you further guidance. Once withdrawn, you cannot return to the programme at a later date.

Depending on when you withdraw you may still be liable to pay a portion of your tuition fees as outlined in the fee section above.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students

You must login to your Portico account and complete the online application under the 'C2RS Home' menu.

Postgraduate research students

Your supervisor must email Student Records confirming the effective date and reason for withdrawal.


When you return

Student Support and Wellbeing

Please note: For any students with a fitness to practice or fitness to teach element (such as MBBS, PGCE) your return to study will be handled by your department and Occupational Health and Wellbeing. This may also be the case for some research students. 

If requested by your department, you may be invited to attend a Return to Study appointment with Student Support and Wellbeing (SSW) The purpose of this is to go over your medical evidence and personal statement as well as to discuss in more detail any suitable support options that are available to you at UCL. Whatever support you chose to engage in you should access it early on – this way you can be given the appropriate support and reduce the impact any difficulties have on your studies. 

There may be up to 4 people present at the appointment, each of whom are representatives from key support providers at UCL and can explain their services to you. This gives you a good opportunity to discuss in detail what support might be useful for you and how you can move forward in engaging with this support. This appointment is not a psychological assessment and they do not make the final decision regarding your re-enrolment. 

You should contact your department towards the end of your interruption confirming you wish to return to UCL. After you have engaged with SSW, we will contact your faculty with any recommendations for your re-enrolment. They will then contact your department who will be in touch with you regarding your re-enrolment.

Student Finance funding (Undergraduate)

If you interrupted part way through a term, you may have received maintenance loan or grant for time that you were not in attendance at university. Student Finance calls this an 'overpayment'. If you have an overpayment when you interrupt, you will be given the option to repay immediately or have the overpayment deducted from future instalments, when you return to study.

If your funding has been reduced to due overpayment when you return to study and this will put you into financial hardship, you can let Student Finance know and they may pay you some of that money back.

Re-enrolment

Before you can re-enrol you must have paid the appropriate fees, or provided evidence of sponsorship to the student fees office.

You must enrol within 2 weeks of your date of return or your student record might be closed. 

If you are re-enrolling in September or October you will need to enrol online via Portico otherwise you should visit the Student Centre in person, bringing any documentation you need.