Course leave

Leave of Absence (Undergraduate and Postgraduate Coursework Students)


Students wishing to take a break from study in their award course are able to request a leave of absence. If approved, a leave of absence means students can spend a period away from their course without losing their place in that award course. If a student takes leave from their studies without an approved leave of absence, their candidature will be deemed to have lapsed. In this situation students will need to apply for re-admission to their award course, either through UAC in the case of undergraduate students, or with a new application to the Admissions Coordinator for postgraduate students. A leave of absence is different to a deferral as the latter is for commencing students only. Leave of absence is also known as 'course leave' throughout the University. Leave of absence is granted in whole semesters. The minimum period of leave is one semester with a maximum of two semesters' leave available.

Steps to follow

  1. The student completes a Leave of Absence Application form online prior to the census date for the semester for which leave is being sought.
  2. If an International student, the student submits appropriate supporting documentation as follows:
    • Medical grounds: Medical certificate issued by a medical practitioner, psychologist or counsellor.
    • Financial hardship: Statutory declaration along with a letter from a friend /associate who can confirm the financial hardship.
    • Military service: Official military certificate.

NOTE: All supporting documentation must be original (no emails or fax documents can be accepted) and must be written in English. If documents are issued in any language other than English, they must be translated by an accredited translator such as NAATI. All documents must be recipted at the Student Information Office no later than census date. Documents can be posted to: Student Information Office, Merewether Building H04, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006 Australia.

  1. The Student Information Office sends an official letter of approval or rejection to the student to their USYD email address which specifys any conditions that apply.
  2. The Student Information Office will withdraw enrolment where course leave is approved.

The rules

Students taking a leave of absence do not receive an extension on the latest date by which they must complete the course requirements for their award course. This means, for example, that a student enrolled in a Bachelor degree must still complete the course within 10 years, including any time taken as course leave. As such, permission for a leave of absence will only be granted if it will not result in the student having insufficient time remaining to complete their award course.

Permission to take leave can be granted in the first semester of a course, though students must be aware that they are bound by the course regulations which apply at the time of commencement of their course.

Local Students: may take leave for up to one year (two semesters) for each award course and must provide a reason for requesting course leave. Supporting documentation is not required.

International Students: may take leave for up to one year (two semesters) for each award course, but leave will only be granted on the basis of illness or compassionate grounds (for example, bereavement), for military service, or in cases of financial hardship (where the student is unable to pay their course tuition fees). Where course leave is approved, a copy of the approval later will be forwarded to the International Office (who are responsible for reporting this information to DIMA).

It is recommended that International Students contact the International Office to seek advice and support in determining the impact that the leave of absence will have upon their student visa.

Re-enrolment after an absence

All students on an approved leave of absence will be emailed information on re-enrolment 6-8 weeks prior to the enrolment session they will be required to attend. If students do not receive this information they should notify the Student Information Office. Students should note that re-enrolment information will be sent to their USYD email address only and so should be provided at the time that leave is requested.

Suspension of Candidature (Postgraduate Research Students)


A candidate for the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) may wish to take a period of time away from study, for various reasons including illness, employment or family commitments. In this situation, the student will need to apply for a suspension of candidature. Suspension of candidature allows the student to take time away from study without losing their place in the award course.

Steps to follow

  1. A student who wishes to apply for suspension of candidature should submit a written request to the SIO, before the Census date in the semester of the planned absence. The written request should explain the reason/s leave is requested, and a copy of any supporting documentation should be attached (including support from the student's supervisor for the suspension request).
  2. The SIO determines, in consultation with the relevant supervisor and the Director of Doctoral Studies, whether the suspension of candidature can be approved.
  3. The SIO forwards an official letter of approval or rejection to the student, specifying any conditions that apply.

The rules

  1. Students holding a scholarship should also note any obligations they may have to notify the Research and Scholarships Office of periods of absence.
  2. During a period of suspension of candidature, the student does not incur a student contribution amount debt (if applicable). The period of suspension does not count towards the maximum period of candidature for the degree. If a student fails to re-enrol without an approved suspension, their candidature will be deemed to have lapsed.
  3. As candidature is recorded in whole semesters, one semester is the minimum period for suspending candidature. A maximum suspension period of two semesters may be granted at any one time. After the two semesters, local students may apply to suspend for up to two more semesters, if required. Local students may suspend their candidature for up to four semesters in total.
  4. For international students, the options for suspension of candidature are more limited, due to visa regulations. International students may suspend candidature for one semester/six months on grounds of illness or family commitments, and for up to two semesters/twelve months on account of military service.
  5. When postgraduate research students require absences from study of less than one semester's duration, a formal suspension is not necessary. For these short absences, students should advise their supervisor in writing, and ask the supervisor to forward the written advice to the SIO for noting.