6.  Suspension of Study

6.1      Suspension of studies is defined as the formal introduction of a pause in a student’s studies during which they are not required to engage with their studies.

6.2      On resumption of their studies, students are expected to fulfil the same progression criteria as if they had not suspended their studies.

6.3      This policy does not relate to any suspension instigated or mandated by the University due to misconduct, which is covered in the University’s Student Disciplinary Rules and Regulations, or due to a mental health difficulty, which is covered by the University’s Policy on Fitness to Study.

6.4      Students do not have the automatic right to suspend their studies. The University expects students to normally complete their study in a single continuous period. As a suspension of study will interrupt a student’s progress on their programme, it will only be granted where there are good grounds and supporting documentation (e.g. a report from a registered medical practitioner).

Grounds for Suspension

6.5      A suspension may be granted on the grounds that the student is unable to engage effectively with their studies owing to external factors such as serious and persistent health problems, disability, bereavement or additional sole caring responsibilities, serious financial problems, mandatory military service, or where a part-time student’s employment pattern has changed.

6.6      A suspension may also be granted if it is demonstrated by the student that it would genuinely be in their best academic interests to suspend studies, for example in order to take up employment or other activities that will contribute to their academic development or where the student is transferring to another programme.  

Request for a suspension

6.7      Each request for suspension of study must be considered individually taking into account the particular circumstances of the student.

6.8      Suspension must be for a defined period. The length of the period of suspension granted should match, as closely as possible, the time required by the circumstances that necessitate the suspension. The student’s period of study for the programme on which they are registered, as set out in 22.13 and 33.8, is paused whilst they are suspended and recommences on their return to study.

6.9      A period or periods of suspension should total no more than 12 months throughout a programme of study unless a specific extension to the period of suspension has been agreed (see 6.23).

6.10    Suspensions cannot be backdated by more than one month from the date of the request for suspension of studies.

6.11    A request for a suspension of study must be made by the student or their proxy. The student should notify the School of their intention and submit a completed form (generated by the School Office), accompanied by any relevant supporting documents (medical evidence or correspondence as appropriate).

6.12      In cases where the accompanying documentation are not comprehensive enough to determine the best course of action for a student, schools may wish to request and consider supporting evidence from medical, counselling or other relevant services before agreeing to recommend a suspension of registration.  When doing this, Schools must consider what is reasonable with respect to a student’s particular circumstances.

6.13      There may be additional rules on suspensions from a funding body.  It is the responsibility of the student to confirm that arrangements and approval for the suspension have been secured with any funding sponsor that is involved. Postgraduate students in receipt of a studentship should note that Research Council or UoB studentship funding will cease during a period of suspension.

6.14      Any change to student status, such as a suspension of study, will affect immigration status in the UK. The University is required to report any changes in status to the Home Office. The International Office provides guidance and advice to visa-holding students who are seeking a suspension of study.  Please see the website for further information: www.bristol.ac.uk/international-office/visas-immigration/.

6.15      The completed form will be considered by the relevant faculty education director for approval; any difficulties with the student’s progression that the School might foresee should be reported.Any change to student status, such as a suspension of study, will affect immigration status in the UK. The University is required to report any changes in status to the Home Office. The International Office provides guidance and advice to visa-holding students who are seeking a suspension of study.  Please see the website for further information: www.bristol.ac.uk/international-office/visas-immigration/.

6.16      The criteria for a return from suspension of studies and any change in the status of the student, through transfer to another programme for example, must be set out and agreed by relevant parties (the student, the school and a representative of the faculty) at the point of suspension and the agreement formally recorded and sent to the student. If circumstances change during the period of suspension then it may be appropriate for the criteria to be revisited, in consultation with the relevant parties.

6.17      The Faculty will write to the student notifying them of the suspension of study and any conditions that need to be fulfilled for return.

Return from suspension

6.18      The support arrangements, and the associated responsibilities of the student and the school, should be clarified and agreed by the relevant parties prior to the student’s return such that they are able to engage with and meet the requirements of the programme.

6.19      Faculties may require an accompanying translation where the medical certificate is provided in a language other than English or specify the medical practitioner who should assess the student.

6.20      Schools should make suitable arrangements to accommodate the student if there have been significant changes to the programme during the period of suspension that will enable the student to complete their studies.

6.21      If a student is unable to return on the agreed date, they may seek further approval to extend their period of suspension (see 6.23).

6.22      A student for whom the agreed period of suspension becomes insufficient should withdraw from the programme and, should they wish, reapply at a later date, requesting that the existing credit points are recognised as prior learning (see Section 4).

Extension to a period of suspension

6.23     An extension of up to 12 months to the period of suspension may be granted in exceptional circumstances.Extension to a period of suspension

6.24      Good grounds for an extension to a period of suspension may include: serious and persistent health problems, disability, significant bereavement or additional sole caring responsibilities, serious financial problems, mandatory military service or where a part-time student’s employment pattern has changed.

6.25      Requests should be made on the relevant form and be accompanied by any supporting documents, such as medical evidence or correspondence.

6.26      If applicable, the school should forward written support for the extension to the relevant education director to agree.

6.27    Extensions to a period of suspension beyond the 12 months in a programme also require the approval of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students).