Graduate Board Policy on Suspensions/Extensions of Study
The Graduate Board’s Programmes of Study and Audit Group (PSAG) is
responsible for considering, and reaching decisions upon requests for
suspensions and extensions of study. In practice, to ensure decisions are
made promptly, action is normally taken on behalf of the Group by the Chair on
a weekly basis.
The University’s Code of Practice for Research Degree Candidatures requires
students to draw promptly to the attention of the supervisor or Postgraduate
Research Tutor any situation in which it may be necessary to request a
suspension or extension of study. Supervisors are, in turn, responsible for
alerting the Postgraduate Research Tutor, in a timely manner, to any action
where it may become necessary to request a suspension or extension of study.
The Postgraduate Research Tutor is required to take prompt action to ensure
appropriate requests are made to PSAG. This position together with the more
recent requirement for Faculties/Schools to monitor the attendance of all
postgraduate research degree students should make it possible for
Faculties/Schools to manage candidatures more effectively.
To assist Faculties/Schools to engage with the process, to encourage greater
oversight and to ensure consistency of the student experience, the Graduate
Board has agreed the following definitions:
(a) Suspension of Study
“Suspension of study”
A period of interrupted study when the student temporarily leaves the
programme of study and loses their registration status. During this
period the student does not receive supervision and does not have
access to the library1. Access to ISS facilities will remain available to
the student – this includes e mail, VLE and portal access. During this
period a student is not expected to progress their research.
Examples might be: illness (those in possession of medical
certificates), bereavement, maternity, accidents, financial reasons)
When the student resumes study it will be on the basis that he/she is fit
to do so and that the difficulties have been overcome satisfactorily.
A request for a retrospective suspension of study will only be
considered in the most exceptional cases.
In exceptional circumstances only a School may request RSA to ask the library to maintain access
(enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org )
Requests for indefinite suspensions
Bearing in mind that Faculty/School structures change with time,
supervisors leave for various reasons, and a topic, once original may
not remain so indefinitely, it is extremely unlikely that a request for an
indefinite suspension will be granted. The norm at present is for a
period of up to 12 months suspension to be considered, with a review at
the end of that period.
(b) Extension of Study
“Extension of study”
A lengthening of the candidature to take account of a period of
disruption to studies. The student will not leave the programme of study
and will normally continue to progress their research but with some
disruption of study slowing progress rather than interrupting progress
Examples might be: equipment breakdown, minor illness or recovery
from accident/surgery, personal difficulties, family illness. Or in very
exceptional cases where the research of a PhD student reveals a
substantial quantity of unexpected new material during the third year of
full-time study consideration might be given to an extension of up to one
(Such requests will normally be made at the stage at which the event
occurs and, in any case, prior to the completion of the standard period
of study. In the case of a request made on academic grounds this
should be made towards the end of the standard period of study).
Cases will be expected to show that some unforeseen and
unforeseeable circumstances have arisen which have significantly and
adversely affected the progress of the research of the student and
against which precautions could not reasonably have been taken. It is
good practice, when the period of extension of study is sought during
the over-time period, for the supervisor and the student to agree a
timetable for completing the writing up of the thesis which includes
milestones. In some cases the Chair of PSAG may require sight of the
timetable for completion before considering an extension request.
In the case of Masterships by Research the maximum period of
extension permitted on academic grounds is 3 months.
Requests for suspensions and extensions of study for individual students must
be made via the Faculty/School’s Postgraduate Research Tutor and sent to
Research Student Administration (RSA). RSA will then arrange for action on
behalf of PSAG to be taken to consider the request. To assist
Faculties/Schools, and to avoid unnecessary delays, a pro forma has been
Faculties/Schools are encouraged to use the pro forma whenever
When a request is approved by or on behalf of PSAG, RSA will issue a letter
to the student confirming the details. The letter will be sent to the student c/o
the Faculty/School. It is anticipated that the Faculty/School will ensure that
the letter is forwarded to the student as it will be in the best position to identify
their current location. A copy of the letter will be scanned and sent to the
Faculty/School PGR Administrator/Secretary. This individual is responsible for
ensuring relevant Faculty/School staff are made aware of the position. The
BANNER record will also be updated to show the suspension/extension and
revised maximum time limit (SWARDAT).
Students are advised to check any implications of a suspension of study on
their funding with their scholarship awarding body or provider, and where
relevant, to check the implications for immigration status with the International
4. Documentary Evidence
Students are required to submit documentary evidence (eg medical certificate)
in support of requests for suspensions and extensions of study where
appropriate. This evidence should be retained by the Faculty/School and not
forwarded to RSA. RSA will check, however, that the Faculty/School holds
supporting documentary evidence (where appropriate).
Students who have taken suspensions of study on medical grounds will be
required to provide their parent Faculty/School with evidence that they are fit
to resume study at the end of the period of suspension (eg doctor’s note).
5. Grounds for Suspension/Extension of Study
Cases where the PSAG is likely to be sympathetic to an application for
suspension/ extension include:
Death of a close relative.
Ill health (of the student) (accompanied by a medical note).
Serious ill health of a close relative (especially where the student has to
assume the role of carer).
Unexpected events e.g. theft, (accompanied by a police report),
equipment not being delivered.
Maternity (the student should make a request before the maternity
leave is due to begin).
Problems beyond the control of the student (e.g. problems originating in
the school, such as the supervisor leaving or retiring and, in unfortunate
circumstances, the death of the supervisor).
Cases where the PSAG is unlikely to be sympathetic to a request for
When the student has completed the standard period of study on a full-
time basis and is now in the overtime period and is now in full-time
employment and is making a request on the basis of “pressures of
Where the request is based on the grounds that the student has got
married/honeymoon period. The Group is of the view that this should
normally be taken from the student’s annual leave entitlement.
Where there is no clear relationship between the amount of extra time
being requested and the problem being encountered by the student.
In all cases the length of time requested needs to be specified and
reasonable, in the sense that it bears some relation to the events experienced
by the student. Requests for suspensions of study will be considered in
whole months only. For administrative purposes suspensions will begin on the
1st day of the month and end on the last day of the month.
6. Attendance Monitoring Policy for all Students
Monitoring of attendance is recognised as an important element in
supporting both student retention and performance and since March 2010 the
University has had an Attendance Monitoring Policy for all students
In addition, there are additional requirements placed upon the University by
the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in relation to international students who are in
the UK on a Tier 4 Points Based System Student Visa. UKBA expects
students on long term suspensions to return to their country of origin. It is,
therefore, essential that RSA is informed immediately when a student finds it
necessary to suspend their studies so that the Office may report the
suspension to UKBA where appropriate. RSA will inform both the student and
School concerned that a report to UKBA has been made. Failure to comply
with this requirement could jeopardise the University’s Highly Trusted Sponsor
7. UKBA Attendance Monitoring Requirements in relation to International
Students who are in the UK on a Tier 4 Points Based System Student Visa
The arrangements described above will apply equally to UK/EU and
However, where an international student receives a suspension of study
UKBA expects them to leave the country. It is understood that international
students in receipt of a suspension will be permitted to remain in the UK for a
period of up to 60 days during which time no attendance monitoring is
necessary. After 60 days they should leave the UK if they do not return to
During an extension of study attendance should be monitored in accordance
with established University policy. If the student fails to attend the University
must report the situation to UKBA (see 6. above).
International students (in the UK with permission as a student) are advised to
contact the International Student Office if they have not already done so for
immigration advice on the implications of a suspension or extension of study
to their research degree candidature to their visa status. The International
Student Office can be contacted at: 0113 343 3930 or Email:
8. Maternity Leave for International Students
The University has identified two possible options for an international student
who becomes pregnant during their period of study and wishes to take
Option One: student suspends study and leaves the UK (if the period of
suspension is in excess of two months)
Option Two: student suspends registration for up to two months and then
resumes study. A limited period of extension might also be sought to take
account of the additional responsibilities the student now faces and the
associated disruption to studies. The supervisor and the student should agree
a working pattern and the supervisor must be in a position to monitor
attendance in accordance with the University’s Attendance Monitoring Policy
throughout the remainder of the period of study and registration.
International students considering options for maternity leave should seek
advice as early as possible as possible health reasons may restrict times at
which flying is advisable or even permitted by an airline.
9. Sponsor/Awarding Body
Students should be advised to check any implications of a
suspension/extension of study on their funding with their scholarship awarding
body or provider.
10. Research Councils
Set out below is further advice on arrangements for candidates holding
research council funding.
(a) Research Councils – Doctoral Training and Doctoral Training Centre
Grants (BBSRC, EPSRC, MRC, NERC and STFC)
All suspensions and extensions are managed internally by the
School may wish to take advice from the Postgraduate
Scholarships Office about the implications for
suspensions/extensions of study for individual candidates
holding Research Council awards (enquiries to extn 34007 or
(b) AHRC - Block Grant Partnership Studentship Regulations
All requests to be sent to Research Student Administration (with
a copy to the Postgraduate Scholarships Office). Requests
should be made at the time the problem arises and certainly no
later than the end of July in the year the student is due to submit.
Approval is not required by AHRC, however, AHRC require
suspensions to be recorded on Je-S within one month of their
All requests to be sent to Research Student Administration (with
a copy to the Postgraduate Scholarships Office) no later than the
end of July in the year the student is due to submit.
AHRC will not be grant retrospective extensions and they can
only be approved by AHRC once a student has entered into their
Maximum period of extension 12 months.
Suspension requests do not require prior approval by ESRC and are
handled according to standard University procedures. Total periods
of suspension must not exceed one calendar year during the lifetime
of the award (standard period of study). Please note, however, that
if a student is in the overtime period, ESRC will expect a student to
request an extension to their submission deadline, for which prior
approval from ESRC is required – see below.
Overseas University Visits, Internship Schemes, Difficult Language
Training are treated by ESRC as extensions but do not require prior
approval by ESRC. If successful, the Postgraduate Research Tutor
should submit a request for the appropriate extension to Research
Where a student experiences problems relating to an accident,
illness or exceptional personal circumstances during the course of
study, the ESRC will consider a case for extending the submission
deadline. Extensions to the submission date cannot be considered
in retrospect. Any request for an extension to the submission date
due to illness cannot be considered unless evidence of illness has
been provided at the time of illness. To apply for a submission date
extension, students must apply to the ESRC, via their nominated
contact, 2-3 months before the submission date deadline. Any
request must be supported in writing by their supervisor and be fully
supported by medical evidence if based on illness. If successful, the
Postgraduate Research Tutor should submit a request for the
appropriate extension to Research Student Administration.
JYF/ST, Ext 35778, 22/11/11