Suspend your studies
You may find that, for various reasons, you need to take a break from your studies. A suspension of studies is an agreement between you and the University, allowing you to pause your studies for a certain amount of time.
When you can request a suspension of studies
A suspension of studies will pause your progress on your programme, so it will only be approved if you have strong reason. You may need to provide supporting evidence.
You can request to suspend for one of the following reasons:
- If you cannot engage effectively with your studies because of medical reasons, disability, bereavement, sole caring responsibilities, financial problems, mandatory military service, or if you are working part-time and your employment pattern has changed.
- If you can demonstrate that it is in your best academic interests. For example, to take up employment or other activities that will contribute to your academic development; or where you are transferring to another programme.
The start date of your suspension and last date of attendance will be recorded once your request is approved. Your start of suspension date cannot be backdated more than one month.
Talk to your senior tutor, personal tutor, or another member of your school (UG/PGT) or your supervisor/supervisory team (PGR) before you submit your request. They will be able to help you make an informed decision and help you consider any other academic support that may be suitable.
If you are thinking about suspending your studies for financial reasons, contact the Student Funding Office to find out about the support they can offer.
Implications of suspending your studies
Study and unit choices
If you are a UG student you will join the next year’s cohort of students and all your teaching and assessment will be with this year group. We cannot guarantee that you will be able to take the same units that you were taking the previous year, as they may not be running. The content, assessment and delivery of units may also have changed.
If you are a PGT you may only suspend for a number of months or a Teaching Block within the same academic year and so would return to the same cohort. Where programmes or periods of suspension exceed 1 year, you may be required to join the next year’s cohort.
If you are a PGR student completing a taught first year, depending on your programme structure and the length of the suspension, you may be required to join the next year’s cohort if returning to complete units.
If you wish to suspend studies in advance of, or during, a placement (i.e. in industry or studying abroad) and take the placement in the next academic year, we will try to allocate a placement to you with the next cohort of students, but a placement cannot be guaranteed.
Fees and funding
Your suspension may impact your funding and any tuition fees that you owe. Find out more about the financial considerations of suspending or withdrawing from your studies.
PGR students should discuss funding arrangements with their faculty office before suspending.
Living in University accommodation
If you suspend your studies, you will need to move out of your University accommodation as you will no longer be classified as a student.
You need to inform your student accommodation that you have suspended your studies by completing the intention to leave form via the Accommodation Portal. If you do not complete the intention to leave form, you will remain liable for the rent of your room.
Living in private-rented accommodation
If you suspend your studies whilst living in private-rented accommodation, this will impact the council tax for your household.
Returning to University accommodation
If you want to live in University accommodation once you return from suspension, you will need to apply for returner accommodation in February 2023. It is important to note that returner accommodation is very limited.
If you are a Student visa holder, find out how suspending your studies may affect your visa.
How to request a suspension
Talk to your senior tutor, personal tutor, or supervisor for advice first, there may be other options available to you other than suspension. If suspension is what you think is best, discuss when you wish to pause studying, and when you think you will be able to return, as well as any requirements for returning.
- Contact your school office; they will produce a personalised suspension request form for you.
- Complete the form and prepare your supporting evidence.
- Include a summary of the reasons for the request on the form. If you are not required to provide supporting documentation, this summary must be a comprehensive account of the circumstances causing you to need a suspension.
- If applicable, include your supporting documentation, e.g. a medical note or a letter of appointment (for internships etc). All evidence must be provided in English.
- Include details of any previous suspensions or other extensions to your study period.
- For PGR students only: obtain the relevant approval from your supervisor/supervisory team.
- For PGR students only: if applicable, obtain the relevant approval from your funding body.
- If you hold a student visa, you must contact Student Visa Services about how suspending your study would affect your visa. The adviser must complete the student visa holder section of the form with you.
- Send your completed and signed form and supporting evidence to your school office promptly as you remain liable to pay for tuition fees and will still be expected to engage with your studies until the process is complete.
Once your school has approved, your request will then be considered by the Faculty Education Director or Graduation Education Director.
If you need a suspension or more than 12 months in total on your programme, this requires additional approval by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education). This will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.
When your request is approved, you will receive a confirmation email from your faculty office. Until you receive written confirmation, you are still a registered student.
During your suspension
During a suspension of studies, you are not required or permitted to engage with your studies.
You will continue to have access to your University IT account, including your email, OneDrive etc, however you will not receive emails from the university specific to your course.
Depending on your individual circumstances, you may still have access to other university support services such as the university’s wellbeing services. We recommend that you contact the wellbeing team to discuss further.
You are still a member of the Student Union and can continue to access the Bristol SU Academic Advice Service while suspending, so any resources provided by them continue to be available to you, such as being part of student groups. Stay up to date with news and events through the Student Union website and contact Bristol SU Academic Advice Service if you have any specific questions.
Find out more about how suspending your studies affect your membership and access to the university’s sports facilities.
Returning to your studies
Before your suspension ends, your faculty office will contact you via your home and university email addresses to start discussing:
- Whether you are able to return to your studies
- Any support that may help you to re-engage successfully with your studies.
You will need to:
- Make sure your contact information is kept up to date on StudentInfo
- Respond to your faculty office when they contact you to discuss your return to study
- Provide evidence of your fitness to return to study if you suspended your studies due to medical reasons
- If you are a PGR student, you will need to discuss your return with your supervisor/supervisory team.
Upon your return to study, you must be aware that:
- If you are not returning within the same academic year of your suspension, you may need to complete registration as a returning student.
See the section on implications for your study and unit choices for additional information.
Fees and funding
Find out more about the financial considerations of returning to your studies or contact a student funding adviser for advice.
On your return to study, you may need to apply for accommodation as a returning student, and accommodation is very limited. If you are interested in university accommodation, you should refer to the accommodation guidance for returning students. Contact the Accommodation services team if you have any questions.
When you have agreed a date to return to study, with your faculty/school, you must email the International Student Visa Advisers to see if you need to apply for a new Confirmation of Accepted Studies. Read our full guidance on what international students need to do to return to study after suspension.
See our guidance for returning students for more information.
How we store your data
Find out how we keep your personal data safe and secure.
For more information on suspensions for taught degree programmes in the University's Regulations and Code of Practice.
Whether you're considering changing courses or suspending your studies, Bristol SU's Academic Advice page will be able to answer any questions you may have.