Taking a Break in Study or Leaving Your Course

Taking a break in study or leaving your course at university refers to the voluntary decision of a student to temporarily suspend their studies or withdraw from their academic program, often for personal, academic, or health-related reasons.

academicadvice hub

I need some time out of university. How do I take a break in study?

If circumstances mean you are not in a position to engage with your teaching and learning and need to take some time out of university (generally between 6-18 months), you can speak with your Student Support Adviser about taking a break in study. They will discuss the full range of options available to you, including whether other support can be put in place to enable you to continue with your studies.

You might need to take a break in study because of a health problem, because of caring responsibilities or other life circumstances - examples are given in the Break in Study policy. You are advised to read this policy in full, as a break in study is only agreed in certain circumstances and it is important that you understand how it will work in practice.

A break in study has to be agreed in advance with the University. It can't be used if you've already missed a lot of your course; you cannot apply retrospectively.

When you're applying for a break in study, you need to be aware of the maximum duration of your course - will you be able to complete it within the deadline?

You also need to be aware of the possible impact on your student funding. For an undergraduate degree, if you are entitled to funding you should receive tuition fee funding for the duration of your course plus one extra year (minus any years or part-years of previous study). If you take a break in study mid-academic year, this may mean you use two years of tuition fee funding entitlement. For postgraduate funding, the rules about funding for repeat study are different, so please view our guidance on postgraduate funding for more information. If you intend to take a break in study, you will need to contact your funding body, e.g. Student Finance England (SFE). Generally, you will not be able to receive a maintenance loan while you are on a break in study (as you will not be in attendance), so you will need to consider how you will manage financially. However, you may be able to get discretionary funding depending on your reasons for taking a break or if you will be in hardship. Depending on whether you are awarded some discretionary funding, you may incur an overpayment if you take a break part-way through a term, as your maintenance loan will have been paid for the whole term. An overpayment may be taken off your maintenance loan entitlement when you return to study. Information about student funding and finance relating to a break in study, including how to apply for discretionary funding, can be found on Blackbullion's blog and on the Student Finance England website.

If you are on a full-time course you will still be classed as a full-time student during your break in study (as you have not withdrawn from the course), so for most people this will mean they cannot claim welfare benefits (as most full-time students are not entitled). However, some full-time students can claim benefits; contact us for advice. You may also still be able to get a Council Tax Exemption through being on a full-time course.

If you are an International Student on a Tier 4 visa, a break in study may not be possible, or you may need to apply for a new visa - seek advice from the International Experience Team.

If you have a tenancy agreement, you will usually be tied into this - and be liable for the rent - even if you take a break in study. View our tenancy agreements guidance for more information.

Here at the Students' Union Advice Service we can help you explore your options and the implications. In order to be able to advise you, we will need you to first discuss your academic options with your Student Support Adviser and ask them to complete a draft Break in Study form for you to provide to us, so that we can see what your options are academically. We will then be able to advise you how these options would affect the other areas of your life such as your finances.

I’m thinking of leaving my course. What are the implications?

If you have already received funding, you may be asked to pay some or all of this back if you leave the course. It is important for you to inform your funding body as soon as you have withdrawn, to keep overpayments to a minimum.

You are normally only entitled to receive tuition fee funding for the duration of your course plus one year, and previous higher education study you've undertaken will generally reduce your entitlement. Therefore, if you leave your course having completed two years, for example, you might not be entitled to enough tuition fee funding if you wish to study again in the future. However, if you have experienced personal difficulties whilst studying, which lead to you leaving the course, you may be entitled to some repeat funding when you return to study - view our money guidance for information on applying for additional funding on the grounds of Compelling Personal Reasons, or contact us for support.

We can help you explore the impact of leaving university on your current finances and future funding entitlement.


If you have signed a housing contract for accommodation, even if you leave university you will generally still be liable for the rent on the accommodation for the duration of the contract. This may depend on the terms of your tenancy agreement. There are options you can explore which may help you to end the tenancy if this is what you want to do. View our housing guidance for information on contracts and leaving your tenancy.

Why are you thinking of leaving your course? Would another option help you to complete your course?

It could be that you need more support or that a break in study would help you. Or perhaps you could transfer to another course that would suit you better?

The best people to discuss this with are your Student Support Adviser and your Course Leader or Academic Adviser. They will be able to discuss your options.

If you need a break in study rather than a permanent withdrawal, there may be financial implications.