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Interruptions for taught students

Contents:
Quick guide to applying for an interruption
While you are completing your application
New interruptions process for taught students for 2020-21
Interruption application (taught students)
Categories of Interruption
Statement of Need
Evidence
Return date
Extenuating Circumstances before your interruption
Return to study planning
Completing your application

Quick guide to applying for an interruption
 

Step 1: Make sure you read the Interruption of Study Procedures and the guidance on these webpages

Step 2: Submit an Interruption Application in Portico and upload supporting evidence if needed

Step 3: Your department will be notified of your application and contact you to arrange a meeting to talk about your plans. This could be on the phone, online or in person

Step 4: Your department or faculty will let you know if your application is approved.


While you are completing your application

It is important that you attend classes and submit assignments while you apply for an interruption and wait for a decision. If you are ill or are having other difficulties which are affecting your attendance or performance, please make sure that you read the guidance below on Extenuating Circumstances before your interruption.


New interruptions process for taught students for 2020-21

For 2020-21, there is a new way for taught students to apply for an interruption of study. This includes:

  • More support before, during and after your interruption 
  • A new online form in Portico to make applying easier
  • A meeting with your department to talk about your plans
  • Default return dates of the start of term with no additional fees
  • Your department can now approve a standard interruption
  • You can apply for a deferral of any assessments or classes which might have been affected by Extenuating Circumstances in the period leading up to your interruption 
  • Flexible/ modular students can now interrupt in their final year of study.

Interruption application (taught students)

Make sure you read the Interruption of Study Procedures in the UCL Academic Manual and the guidance on these webpages. Once you have familiarised yourself with the process, you will need to log in to Portico and start an application using the online form:


Categories of Interruption

Interruptions are divided into the following categories:

Category 1: Standard interruptions:

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
Approval Required:Your department

Category 2: Interruptions requiring a higher level of approval:

Category 2aA first interruption of more than twelve months but less than two years (please note that interruptions of more than two years are not possible)
Category 2bA second period of interruption
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:Complete an online Interruption Application, including the following sections:
a) Statement of Need 
b) Supporting Evidence
Approval Required:Your department and your faculty

Statement of Need

For Category 2 applications, you must complete the ‘Statement of Need’ section of the online Interruption Application, and upload supporting documents. Depending on your circumstances, this might include things like:

  • For maternity, paternity, parental or adoption leave: information about your anticipated due date or adoption date; an indication of when you think you would like to interrupt and return
  • Information about a long-term medical or mental health condition, disability or learning difficulty 
  • Evidence that you have been called to undertake military service in your home country
  • Information about financial difficulties that might be making it hard for you to study
  • Dates and locations of religious festivals or events which you plan to observe
  • Information about caring responsibilities, for example, caring for a child or a vulnerable adult
  • Information about problems in your home life that might be making it difficult for you to study
  • Information about significant changes to your work commitments

This is not an exhaustive list, there are many different reasons why you might need to interrupt.


Evidence

Most applications do not require evidence so make sure that you check the Interruptions of Study Procedure first. If you do need to provide evidence:

  • Medical evidence will need to meet the requirements outlined in the UCL Medical Evidence Guidance
  • You might also need to submit non-medical evidence, for example a police report, or a letter from a solicitor, coroner, court, therapist etc. Further guidance about evidence can be found in the Extenuating Circumstances procedures.
  • You might also speak to your Personal Tutor or another trusted member of staff about providing a statement to support your request.

The information which you submit will be looked after carefully but if you are worried about disclosing sensitive information you can talk to Student Support and Wellbeing or the Students’ Union UCL Advice Service about your options.


Return date

Typically students return from interruption one year after they leave, at the start of a term e.g. if you interrupt in November, you will return at the start of Term 1 in late September. This is your ‘Default Return Date’.

However, your return date could be slightly different. For example:

  • You might need to return earlier because your programme or one of your modules has changed. For example, a module may now be running in Term 1 instead of Term 2, or the module may have been redesigned and include different content which it will be difficult to pick up part-way through.
  • You might need to return earlier if a module includes group work or another activity which it will be difficult to work on if you are not there from the start of the module.
  • You might have had Extenuating Circumstances in the period leading up to your interruption which meant that you missed a lot of classes, or underperformed in an assessment. You may need to return early to retake the affected module from the start.
  • It may be better for you to return at half term if you don’t want to repeat classes unnecessarily.

If any of these issues affect you, you can discuss them in your meeting with your department and make sure they are included in your Return to Study Plan. If you want an adjusted Return Date, you may be asked to complete the Statement of Need section of the online application, and you may be asked for evidence. An adjusted Return Date will need additional approval from your Faculty Tutor or Faculty Graduate Tutor.


Extenuating Circumstances before your interruption

You might have been affected by illness or other Extenuating Circumstances in the period leading up to your interruption. We can’t ‘backdate’ your interruption, but you can submit a claim for Extenuating Circumstances to cover that period. For example:

  • Your ability to attend classes and participate in seminars or laboratories might have been affected. You can apply for a ‘deferral with tuition’ which will allow you to repeat some classes and take the assessment when you return.
  • You may have already attended classes, but illness or other circumstances meant that you could not do the assessment, or you did not perform at your best in the assessment. You can apply for a ‘deferral without tuition’ so that you can re-do the assessment when you return to UCL. 

To get a deferral with or without tuition, you must submit a separate Extenuating Circumstances Form and supporting evidence to your department. To qualify for Extenuating Circumstances, you need to meet certain criteria, so make sure you read the Grounds for Extenuating Circumstances before you apply. The EC form guides you through the information that you need to provide. There is a separate section for you to tell us about your Interruption of Study.

Submit your EC Form and evidence to your department (your student handbook or Moodle site should tell you where to submit this).


Return to study planning

To help make your return to UCL as smooth as possible, you will be invited to a meeting with your department to complete a Return to Study plan before your application can be approved.

How does it work?

When you have completed the online Interruption Application in Portico, your department will contact you to arrange a meeting – this can be on the phone, online or in person. The meeting is designed to help you think through the implications of interrupting, and to make sure there is a plan in place to make your return to UCL as smooth as possible.

The meeting might be with your Programme Leader, Departmental Tutor or Departmental Graduate Tutor, who are all authorised to approve interruption applications. You can also ask them to invite other members of staff to join the meeting if you would find this helpful e.g. your Personal Tutor or a departmental administrator.

In the meeting, the department will log into your online application and go through the onscreen Return to Study prompts with you.

The following list gives you an idea of the issues that you might discuss. You may find that some of the questions don’t apply to you – you can ignore them.

  1. Who can you contact if you have questions or need support while you are away? 
  2. Will any modules or assessments have changed next year, including their timing (such as the term in which they are taught)? How might this affect you and how will this be addressed?
  3. Will any assessments or exams be due soon after you return? Will you need to do any revision or complete any work while you are away? Will you need access to the library or to Moodle for course materials to complete these assessments?
  4. Do any modules include group work? Will you be allocated to a new group when you return? Do you need to return at the start of the module in order to work with your new group?
  5. Do you need to re-attend any classes or re-do any assessments because you had Extenuating Circumstances in the period leading up to your interruption
  6. Does your programme include a placement or study abroad? How will this be affected?
  7. Are there any induction or social events to which you could be invited before you return?
  8. Will you need a Return to Study Welfare Review with UCL Student Support and Wellbeing? This can be important if you are interrupting due to ill health or other Extenuating Circumstances as they can provide extra help and support.
  9. Are you interrupting for maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave? Are there any extra considerations to take into account? Have you read UCL’s Pregnancy and Adoption policy?
  10. How will interrupting affect your visa or immigration status? Do you know who to contact if you have questions about this?
  11. Are there any important fees or funding issues to take into consideration, such as repayment of loans, limits on loan eligibility, exceptional circumstances extensions? Do you know who to contact if you have questions about this?
  12. How will interrupting affect your accommodation?

Completing your application

After your meeting your department will consider your application and may need to ask the Faculty Tutor or Faculty Graduate Tutor for approval as well. If your application is approved, you will be notified of your formal Date of Interruption and Return Date.


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Next: Visa and immigration requirements for interrupting students