Interrupting your studies (taking time out)
Why might I interrupt?
You might decide that you need to take a break from your studies for personal, medical or financial reasons. At Queen Mary University of London, we call this ‘interrupting’ your studies. You may interrupt for a minimum of one month and a maximum of two years in total. Interruptions for a period longer than this will be granted only in highly exceptional circumstances and with the permission of the Queen Mary Academic Registrar.
If you are experiencing health, personal or financial issues which are impacting on your ability to study, get advice as soon as you can about your options. Your academic school, the Advice and Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service and the Learning Development team can all offer you support depending on your circumstances. This may result in you being able to continue with your studies at Queen Mary so you would not need to interrupt.
If you do decide that you want to interrupt your studies, you must get permission from your academic school. Speak to your personal tutor or academic adviser about why you feel that you need to interrupt, whether this will be allowed, and if so, when would be the best time for you to return. If you are an undergraduate or taught postgraduate student, you can only resume at the start of a semester, not part way through. There is a Student Support Officer in most academic schools who is usually your first point of contact for this type of issue.
Your Tier 4 immigration permission requires you to be enrolled and studying full-time at Queen Mary. If you interrupt, your permission will normally be curtailed and you will need to leave the UK. Your Tier 4 immigration permission does not allow you to interrupt and stay in the UK for work experience, to earn money for your studies, or to spend a “gap year” in the UK. Please see our guidance on Tier 4 Reporting and Curtailment for more information.
When is the deadline to interrupt?
There are strict deadlines for interrupting. These dates apply to most taught degree courses but there are some exceptions - see below. In the 2019/20 academic year the deadlines are:
- Friday 3 January 2020 if you do not wish to sit the Semester A exams
- Friday 1 May 2020 if you do not wish to sit the Semster B exams
(If you are a medical or dental student, the official deadlines for interrupting differ according to which course you are studying and which academic year you are in. Check with the Student Office at Whitechapel).
If you are a PHD student check with the Research Office.
These dates may also not apply if your course is held outside of the UK. There are also variations for distance learning programmes and courses with a January or April start date. Therefore please always check the relevant dates with your School.
If you miss the deadline but feel that you are unfit to sit exams or submit coursework due to medical or personal circumstances, you need to consider making a claim under the university's Extenuating Circumstances policy. Full guidance on this policy and how to submit a claim is explained in the Advice and Counselling Service advice guide Extenuating Circumstances.
If you sit the Semester A exams and want to interrupt before the start of Semester B, you need to apply for an interruption by Friday 17 January 2020.
Interrupting during the summer vacation - If you are an undergraduate student you may have completed the academic year and decide during the summer vacation that you need to take time out and return to your studies at a later date (for example due to health, personal or financial reasons), you need to obtain permission from your Academic School and submit an Interruption of Study form. The interruption deadlines above do not apply in this situation. Postgraduate students should discuss interrupting during the Summer with their academic school as this not normally a vacation period.
How do I apply for an interruption of study?
You will need to complete an Interruption of Study form (see the next section). Try and do this as soon as you can so your tuition fee liability can be correctly reassessed according to the date you interrupt (see the later section of this advice guide Tuition Fees and Refunds).
If you are a medical or dental student, the official deadlines for interrupting are different, and can vary depending on your course and your academic year. Check with the Student Office at Whitechapel.
On the interruption of study form you need to write your planned date of return, which you will need to agree with your academic school. When you are allowed to resume depends partly on what point in the year you interrupt.
Where can I get an Interruption of Study form?
You can print this from the Queen Mary Registry website.
You can also get a form and guidance notes from the Student Enquiry Centre(ground floor, Queens’ Building, Mile End campus), or from the Student Office at the Whitechapel campus or from the Advice and Counselling Service reception.
If you are a PhD student, visit the Forms and Guidance Notes section of the Research Degrees Office website.
How do I complete the form?
The form asks for your last date in regular attendance and the date your studies will resume. If you stopped attending Queen Mary University of London sometime before you decided you wanted to interrupt, your academic school may agree to backdate your interruption of study. If this happens, your tuition fee liability would be reassessed which may result in a decreased liability depending on the date you interrupt – see the later section of this advice guide Tuition Fees and Refunds for more advice about this.
What do I do with the form?
You need to submit the interruption of study form to your academic school by the deadline (see above). Your school will then need to sign the form to say that your interruption of study and proposed return date have been approved. Ask your school for a copy of the completed form. Your school will then scan the form and send it electronically to Queen Mary Registry. Once the Registry have processed your interruption, they will either send you a letter or an email confirmation. You can also check on Mysis that the interruption has been processed.
If you are in the UK on Tier 4 Student leave, once the relevant office at Queen Mary receive your interruption of studies form they will check to see if you will be interrupting for more than 60 days during term time. Normally, if you will be interrupting for more than 60 days, Queen Mary will report your interruption to the Home Office. Please see our guidance on Tier 4 Reporting and Curtailment for more information.
What if I miss the deadline for interrupting?
If you miss the interruption deadline but feel that you are unfit to sit exams or to submit coursework due to medical or personal reasons, you need to make an extenuating circumstances claim to your academic school. This will involve getting documentation to give to your school as evidence to support your claim. For information about the process of submitting a claim for extenuating circumstances, please read our ‘Extenuating Circumstances’ guide.
If you have only narrowly missed the interruption deadline and you have evidence of compelling reasons why you couldn’t meet it, for example if you were in hospital, you can talk to your academic school about whether they can exceptionally process a late interruption.
Do I need to do anything before I return from an interruption?
You should check with your academic school well in advance of your resumption of study date to ask whether they will need you to provide any information before they can allow you to resume. For example, if you interrupted for health reasons, the school might need you to provide medical evidence that you are now well enough to study.
If you interrupted due to ongoing ill health, a disability, specific learning difficulty, or mental health condition, contact the Queen Mary Disability and Dyslexia Service several weeks before you are due to resume. They can advise you about any extra support you may be eligible for, and if you have contacted them early enough, this can then be put in place in time for your resumption.
You must also check your immigration options as you may need a new visa to return to your course. Read the following sections of this guide: How and when do I apply for new immigration permission to undertake my re-sits and How and when do I apply for immigration permision to return to my studies.
What if I pass my exams but still want to take time out?
Even though you may be able to progress to your next year of study, you might decide after the exam period or during the summer vacation that you need to take time out and return to your studies at a later date. This could be due to health, personal or financial reasons. If you wish to do this, you would need to obtain permission from your Academic School and submit an Interruption of Study form as above.
If you are in the UK on Tier 4 student leave you will not normally be allowed to remain in the UK while you are not attending your course. Please see our guidance on for more information.
Students who are temporarily enrolled
If you are temporarily enrolled because you have not been able to pay the amount of tuition fee which is required to fully enrol or if you have not been able to provide evidence of your qualifications, you will have been given a deadline on which your temporary enrolment will end, at which time your record at Queen Mary will normally be terminated. If you know that you will be unable to pay the required amount of tuition fee or provide evidence of your qualifications by that deadline, and you are unable to arrange an extension of that deadline, you could apply to your academic school to interrupt your studies, rather than have your record terminated. If you are allowed to interrupt, you can resume your studies the following academic year, without having to apply for a new place. You won’t normally be charged any tuition fees if you were only temporarily enrolled.
Law, regulations and policies can change quickly. The information on our website is given in good faith and has been carefully checked but QMUL cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. QMUL is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites which are provided for further information.