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Advice and Counselling Service

Interrupting your studies

If you need to take a break or time out from your studies, we call this ‘interrupting’ your studies.

Lecturer looking out from stage to a full lecture theatreYou might want to do this during an academic year or between academic years. During your course, you may interrupt for a maximum of two years in total, normally one year at a time. Interruptions for a period longer than this are only granted in highly exceptional circumstances and with the permission of the Queen Mary Academic Registrar. You can find information about this in the Queen Mary Interruption of Study Policy Guidance is available in the Policy Zone under Academic Policy, regulations and procedures. 

You may be experiencing health, personal issues, or financial issues and these are affecting your ability to study, so get advice as soon as you can about your options. Your academic school, the Advice and Counselling Service, theDisability and Dyslexia Service and the The Library Teaching and Learning Support Team can all offer you support depending on your circumstances. This may result in you being able to continue with your studies at Queen Mary so you would not need to interrupt.  

If you do decide that you want to interrupt your studies, you must get permission from your academic school. Speak to your Personal Tutor or Academic Adviser about why you feel that you need to interrupt, whether it is allowed and if so, when would be the best time for you to return. If you are an undergraduate or a taught postgraduate student, you can only resume at the start of a semester, not part way through. There is a Student Support Officer based in most academic schools who is usually your first point of contact and who can discuss the academic options with you. 

If you receive Student Funding, Interrupting studies can affect your funding entitlement during the year in which you interrupt your study and also the year you resume your studies.   It can affect payments of the Disabled Students Allowance, Student Finance England Postgraduate Loan payments, and, if you are an undergraduate student, it can affect your payments of and entitlement to receive the Maintenance Loan, the Tuition Fee Loan and any grants for dependents.  Interrupting can also affect your tuition fee liability and the amount you are required to pay. Visit our Student Funding Implications and Tuition fee implications page for more information.

If you are an international student in the UK with Student immigration permission, interrupting studies can affect this and you may not be able to remain in the UK. We provide information about visa and fee implications if you make a change to your programme.

Students who are temporarily enrolled at the start of an academic year

Students who are temporarily enrolled at the start of an academic year

If you are enrolled temporarily at the start of an academic year and are not able to pay the tuition fee required or not able to provide evidence of your qualifications to fully enrol, you will have a deadline on which your temporary enrolment will end, at which time your record at Queen Mary will normally be terminated.

If you know that you will be unable to pay the required amount of tuition fee or provide evidence of your qualifications by that deadline, and you are unable to arrange an extension of that deadline, you could apply to your academic school to interrupt your studies, rather than have your record terminated. If you are allowed to interrupt, you can resume your studies the following academic year, without having to apply for a new place. Contact the Schools Student Support Officer to discuss this.  You will need to complete an Interruption of study form

Tuition fees are not normally charged to students who do not fully enrol. 

How do I arrange an interruption of study?

How do I arrange an interruption of study?

For Undergraduate and Postgraduate taught courses that start in September, there are specific interruption deadlines. Most programmes now have two assessment periods, one in January following Semester A teaching and one in May following Semester B teaching. The deadline for submission of the interruption form for most programmes is the day before the start of these assessment periods. 

Arrangements can differ for courses that start in January or for courses that are held outside of the UK or are distant learning programmes.  Therefore, always check the deadline for submission of the interruption form with your Academic School.  

If you are a medical or dental student, the official deadlines for interrupting differ according to which course you are studying and on the academic year. Check with the Student Office at Whitechapel 

If you are a PHD student check with the Research Degrees Office. 

The Queen Mary Academic calendar lists Semester dates and exam periods. 

On the interruption form you need to write your planned date of return.  The date you are allowed to resume depends partly on what point in the year you interrupt. For example, if you sit the Semester A exams in January and then interrupt before the deadline, you will have completed the assessments for Semester A and can therefore normally only resume at the start of semester B the following academic year. Whereas if you interrupt by the deadline before the Semester A exams, you would normally have the option to either resume your studies in September and re-take Semester A or resume the following January to sit your January exams, and continue onto Semester B to continue your course.

You should discuss and decide your interruption and date of return with your academic school and submit an Interruption of Studies form to them. The Student Support Officer for your School is usually able to help with this. You will need to discuss and agree your interruption and date of return with your academic school (or if you are a PHD student contact the Research Degrees office) and submit the Interruption of Studies form.  Your school will then need to sign the form to confirm and approve your interruption of study and your proposed return date. Your school will provide this information to the Registry. Once the Registry have processed your interruption, they will send you written confirmation. You can also check on MySiS that the interruption has been processed. 

Taught Masters students who start their course in September and who want to interrupt after the May exams but before their project period can do this once the exam period is over. The deadline for interrupting in these circumstances is usually towards the end of June.  

You can print the Interruption form from the Queen Mary Academic Registry site or collect a form and guidance notes from the Student Enquiry Centre (Ground floor, IQ East Court, Mile End road, opposite Mile End campus), or from the Student Officeat the Whitechapel campus. If you are a research degree student, visit  the Research Degrees Office website. 

If you have only narrowly missed the interruption deadline and you have evidence of compelling reasons why you could not meet this, for example if you were in hospital or very unwell, you can talk to your academic school about whether they can exceptionally process a late interruption. 

If you miss the deadline but feel that you are unfit to sit your exams or submit coursework due to medical or personal circumstances, you can consider making an Extenuating Circumstances claim. This will involve getting documentation to give to your school as evidence to support your claim.  Student Experience provide a Guide to Extenuating Circumstances.

Student Funding

If you receive Student Funding, Interrupting studies can affect your entitlement to receive this during the year that you interrupt study and the year you resume studies. We explain how this is affected in the Student Funding implications page.

Tuition Fees

It can also affect tuition fee liability in both years. It depends on the date your school use as your interruption date and the date you return to your course. You may also end up paying more tuition fees for your course when you return if you are required to re-take any period of study in attendance or have to restart a Semester as a Tuition Fee is normally charged for this period.  

Have a look at the information about Tuition Fee implications for Undergraduate and postgraduate Home/EU students  International students should look at the tuition fee information in our Visa and fee implications to changes of your programme guidance.

International students

If you are an international student in the UK with Student immigration permission, this permission will be affected.  So it's very important you are aware of the implications before you make a decision. We have information about this in Visa and fee implications to changes of your programme

Interrupting during the summer vacation 

If you are an undergraduate student, you may complete the academic year but decide during the summer vacation that you need to take time out and return to your studies later. You would still need to obtain permission from your Academic School and submit an Interruption of Study form, but the normal interruption deadlines do not apply in this situation.

Will I need to do anything before I return from an interruption?

Will I need to do anything before I return from an interruption?

You should check with your academic school well in advance of your resumption of study date to ask whether they will need you to provide any information before they can allow you to resume. For example, if you interrupted for health reasons, the school might need you to provide medical evidence that you are now well enough to study.  

If you interrupted due to ongoing ill health, a disability, specific learning difficulty, or mental health condition, contact the Queen Mary Disability and Dyslexia Service several weeks before you are due to resume. They can advise you about any extra support you may be eligible for, and if you have contacted them early enough, put this in place in time for your resumption.  

Undergraduate Home Students

If you are an Undergraduate student and receive UK government Student Funding, you will need remember to apply for your Student Finance for the next year of your course - it is advisable to do this several months before you resume. This will allow time to sort out any issues that arise before you re-join your course and allow time for you to consider your options.  For example:

  • a Tuition Fee Loan may not be available for your next year of study if on your return you have to retake the year in attendance and you have done this before or you have previously studied on an earlier degree level course. 
  • If your interruption has caused an overpayment of Maintenance Loan, Student Finance England will usually recover this by reducing the amount of Maintenance Loan available to you when you resume study, usually in the following year.  If this will cause you financial hardship you can ask SFE to delay recovery of the overpayment.  If SFE do not approve this or you do not apply to be considered you will have to plan your budget using your reduced Maintenance Loan entitlement. We have information about what happens if you are overpaid  on our Student Funding Implications page.

If you are resuming studies in January and encounter problems when applying, contact a Welfare Adviser for advice.   In addition,  Further information about this and the options available can be found in the Undergraduate Student Funding implications guidance.

International Students

If you require immigration permission to return to the UK to complete your course, make sure you allow sufficient time to apply for and obtain your new immigration permission. You can find information about immigration and interrupting on the Changes to Studies page and we have helpful guidance to support you to make a student visa application.

What else do I need to consider?

It is very important to understand how your funding, tuition fee liability, student immigration permission (if applicable) will be affected during a period of interruption as well as how you will financially support yourself while you take time out of your studies. Choose from the list below for factors to consider.  You also read our information about other practicalities to take into account while you are no longer attending a course at Queen Mary.

You should check with your School if there are any course related issues, for example will the module options or course structure remain the same when you return to your course.

Research degree students should read the Research Degrees Office information. 

Working

You may need to work to support yourself during a period of interruption. Our Working during your Studies page has information about this.  

International students in the UK with Student Immigration Permission are not able to remain in the UK to work while they interrupt as interrupting normally means your visa will be curtailed.  You can find further information about this in the Immigration section below and also in our Visa and Fee implications and changes to your study information. 

Student Finance England Funding 

Postgraduate funding and Undergraduate funding is affected in different ways.  If you receive Student Finance England Funding , interrupting part way through an academic year will alter your funding entitlement for the remainder of that year and also throughout the period when you will not be attending your course.  It can also affect your funding entitlement when you return to study. So it is very important you understand how you will be affected and the options available to you and we explain this further in the Student Funding implications pages for Undergraduate students and Postgraduate students.

Other Funding

If you are financially sponsored by a government or another external sponsor or you receive a Queen Mary Scholarship, you will need to check how your funding is affected if you interrupt and if this will remain available when you return to study.

Research students in receipt of a Scholarship from Queen Mary, should contact the Research Degrees office to enquire how this will be affected if by an interruption of study.   

State Welfare Benefits

International students in the UK with Student Immigration permission or visitor permission must not claim any welfare benefit as it is a breach of their immigration conditions. Students in the UK with any other type of immigration permission should always seek advice before making any claim.  

The Welfare Benefit Social Security regulations prevent most full-time students claiming any welfare benefits throughout their studies including during any period of interruption. However, the benefit rules do permit certain students to claim: 

Students with dependent children are eligible to claim. For information, visit our page for students with children.    

Students with personal care or mobility needs may be eligible for for  Personal Independence Payment if they meet the eligibility requirements.  We have more information about claiming this on our Extra money: disability or ill health section.

Students with a disability or ill health who already receive Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and who receive other benefits such as Universal Credit immediately before starting a course may be able to continue these claims during their course, including while they interrupt.   However full-time students who do not already receive Universal Credit are not normally able to make a new claim for this benefit during their course,  because the current Universal Credit rules prevent a new claim being approved. This includes during a period of interruption as students remain registered on their course during this time. For information, visit our Extra Money: disability and ill health section. You can also contact a Welfare Adviser to discuss your circumstances.  

However, there is an exception.  If you have interrupted due to ill health or because of caring responsibilities and do not receive your student loan while interrupting, you may be entitled to claim Universal Credit once you are no longer unwell or once your caring responsibilities have ended. You can claim until the date you resume your course, or for up to one year, whichever is sooner. You must be available for and actively seeking work and be able to meet the commitments of your Job seeking agreement.  You do not need to be in receipt of PIP to claim in these circumstances.

There are no specific benefit rules that exclude students registered on a part-time course from claiming welfare benefits during their course, including during an interruption period, although students must meet the general eligibility rules for each Welfare Benefit.   At Queen Mary there are no part-time undergraduate courses, only part time postgraduate courses.

Please note that student loans and other study loans count as income for welfare benefits and this income will reduce the amount of benefit payable. This income should always be declared to avoid overpayments being made.  This counts as income if you are eligible for the funding, even if you choose not to take it out.

You may want to contact a Welfare Adviser to discuss your circumstances. 

Tuition Fees 

Your tuition fee liability may also be affected by interrupting. It depends on the date your school use as your interruption date and the date you return to your course. You may also end up paying more tuition fees for your course when you return if you are required to re-take any period of study in attendance or have to restart a Semester as a Tuition Fee is normally charged for this period.  

Have a look at the information about Tuition Fee implications for: 

Undergraduate Home/EU students

Postgraduate Home/EU students

International students

Students in the UK with Student Immigration Permission 

Once the relevant office at Queen Mary receives your interruption of studies form, they will check to see if you will be interrupting for more than 60 days during term time. Normally, if you will be interrupting for more than 60 days, Queen Mary will report your interruption to the Home Office, your immigration permission should be curtailed (shortened) and you will need to leave the UK and will require new immigration permission to return to the UK. You can find information about this and other immigration implications and considerations in the Visa and Fee implications and  changes to your programme section.

EU Settlement Scheme 

If you intend to spend time outside of the UK while you interrupt and you hold EU Pre-Settled status check how absences from the UK can affect this status and future eligibility for EU Settlement in our information about the EU Settlement Scheme.

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