Leave of absence

If you wish to take time off from the course you're currently enrolled in, you may be able to apply for a Leave of Absence.

Student visa holders are required to enrol in at least 50 points in each half-year period or have an approved Reduced Study Load.

If you are unable to study any subjects in a half-year period due to unforeseen compassionate and compelling reasons you should apply for Leave of Absence.

In 2020, due to the disruptive and changing impacts of COVID-19 on subject offerings and local lockdowns, students were able to use COVID-19 and a personal statement to apply for compassionate and compelling leave. If you took leave in 2020 and will now be unable to complete your course by your original Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) end date, we will provide you with an extended CoE so you can renew your student visa.

In 2021 the normal conditions will apply. COVID-19 or online study would not be considered sufficient grounds in and of themselves for compassionate and compelling leave.  Review the criteria required to be approved for compassionate and compelling leave due to unforeseen circumstances.  All applications will need to be substantiated with independent supporting documentation (not a personal statement).

What is a Leave of Absence?

To remain enrolled as a student at the University of Melbourne, you must have at least one subject recorded for each half-year period (January to June, July to December) or have an approved Leave of Absence. Student visa holders must also meet additional requirements listed in the 'Additional information for student visa holders' section below.

A Leave of Absence means that your course is put on hold for you to re-commence and complete after you've returned from leave. Coursework students may request a Leave of Absence for one or two half-year periods. Graduate research students can apply for a Leave of Absence for periods of two weeks or more.

Coursework students should note:

  • You are not permitted to take a Leave of Absence during the first six months of your course. Instead, you should apply to defer your offer if you are not able to commence your course as planned.  You must apply for deferral before the census date of the first subject in which you are enrolled.
  • You do not require a Leave of Absence after the census date has passed for any of the subjects you are enrolled in. Once the census date has passed for a subject it is counted as part of your study load. Therefore, you can withdraw from all your subjects. As they will all be recorded as enrolled for that study period, you do not require a Leave of Absence. 
    However, this may have significant academic and financial implications. If you withdraw from all subjects in a half year period after the census date, this will affect your academic progress and you may be required to attend an At Risk or Course Academic Progress Committee (CAPC) meeting. There will also be financial consequences of withdrawing from subjects after their census date. For more information see subject withdrawal. If you plan on taking a longer break, you should apply for a Leave of Absence for the next half-year period.

If you wish to take time off from your course but are ineligible for a Leave of Absence, book a course planning appointment to discuss your options.

Taking a Leave of Absence can impact your loans or scholarships. Find out more:

How to apply

Undergraduate and graduate coursework students

If you intend to take a Leave of Absence, make sure you apply before the census dates of any of your currently enrolled subjects to ensure you are not financially liable for any of the subject fees during the study period for which you are on leave.

To apply:

  1. Go to the Leave of Absence page in my.unimelb.
  2. Select the link to the Leave of Absence (Coursework) application or Add New button if you have an existing application.
  3. Complete all mandatory sections (*) consistent with the instructions provided within the form:
    1. You must apply for at least one half-year period (January – June, July - December) of leave at a time, except in special circumstances such as if you are studying overseas. You cannot apply for more than 12 months of leave.
    2. If you're a student visa holder, you will also need to attach a copy of your passport and supporting documentation if you are applying for a Leave of Absence for compassionate and compelling circumstances.
  4. Read the declaration.
  5. Click Submit.
  6. You will be taken to the confirmation screen. Click Done to return to the application home page. You can then navigate to:
    1. eStudent by clicking on Back to eStudent
    2. Form Responses will show all of your Leave of Absence forms (and allow you to cancel a pending application)
    3. If you need to complete another Leave of Absence form for a different period please click on Forms
    4. To exit the system please click on your name at the top right and select Log Off.

If you hold a student visa, please read below for visa implications of taking Leave of Absence for compassionate and compelling or non-compassionate and compelling reasons.

Graduate researchers

Check the Graduate Research Hub for instructions on taking leave.

More information

  • Additional information for student visa holders

    Leave due to compassionate or compelling circumstances

    You can apply for a Leave of Absence if you are unable to continue your studies because of compassionate or compelling circumstances beyond your control. Please read the information on the support for compassionate or compelling circumstances page to see if this applies to you.

    To apply for a Leave of Absence because of compassionate or compelling circumstances, you’ll need to provide any documents which support your application. Examples of appropriate documentation include:

    • A detailed medical statement from a physician or medical specialist (a doctor’s certificate is not acceptable)
    • A detailed statement from a counsellor (for example, the University's Counselling and Psychological Services team)
    • A police statement
    • A copy of a death certificate or death notice for close family member.

    Supporting documentation for compassionate or compelling circumstances must be from an independent source or authority, and clearly indicate:

    • What the special circumstances were
    • When they occurred
    • How long they lasted
    • The level of impact of the special circumstances.

    Overseas medical certificates issued in a language other than English must be translated into English by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) or an overseas notary department with a common seal.

    If you are granted Leave of Absence for compassionate or compelling circumstances:

    • We’ll notify the Department of Home Affairs that your course of study has been temporarily suspended
    • Your visa will remain valid and you are not required to depart Australia
    • We will provide you with an updated Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) with a new end date to cover the period of approved leave. You will receive this with your Leave of Absence outcome
    • You may also need to apply for a new student visa.

    Leave for other reasons

    Other reasons for taking a Leave of Absence may include:

    • Relationship problems
    • Financial difficulties
    • Travel or employment opportunities
    • An increase in hours or duties of paid or unpaid employment
    • Family or customary obligations, such as weddings of a relative or friend
    • Minor medical illness, homesickness or adjusting to living and studying in Australia.

    If your reasons for taking a Leave of Absence are not approved to be compassionate or compelling circumstances, or if you fail to provide documentation which supports your claim for Leave of Absence due to compassionate or compelling circumstances, your CoE will be cancelled and your student visa will be subject to cancellation. You will be required to leave Australia within 28 days of the start date of your leave or make other visa arrangements with the Department of Home Affairs.

    If your leave is approved, we will provide you with a new CoE. This will start on the day you return from leave but will have your original course end date. Before you return to Australia to resume your studies, you must check your visa status online via VEVO. If your visa has been cancelled you will need to apply for a new student visa before you will be permitted to return to Australia

    Please note: An approved Leave of Absence for non-compassionate and compelling reasons will not extend your CoE or student visa duration. This means that you will be required to catch up the subjects you missed while on leave by enrolling in Summer and Winter Term subjects in addition to your normal 50 points per half year period. If this is not possible, you may be able to complete your final subjects from outside Australia (if offered online) once your original CoE end date has passed. You should seek advice and book a course planning appointment before applying for non-compassionate leave as this may impact your ability to complete your course.

    Enrolment requirements and leave (coursework students only)

    International students holding a student visa are required to maintain a study load of 50 credit points (4 standard subjects) for each half-year period, or else have an approved Reduced Study Load or Leave of Absence.

    Refer to the table below to determine the requirements for your situation.

    Note: A subject is counted towards your study load as soon as its census date passes. If you enrol in a full load (50 points) for a half-year period, then withdraw from all your subjects after all their census dates have passed, you will still be recorded as having a full load for that half-year period.

    Enrolment statusExamples of enrolmentAction required

    Full load (50 points) for the half-year period

    • Four 12.5 point subjects in a standard semester (i.e. Semester 1 or Semester 2)
    • Two 12.5 point Summer subjects, two 12.5 point Semester 1 subjects
    • One 12.5 point Winter subject, one 25 point Semester 2 subject, one 12.5 point September intensive

    No Leave of Absence or Reduced Study Load application required as visa enrolment conditions are met.

    Enrolment for the standard semester, but less than 50 points overall for the entire half-year period

    • One 12.5 point Summer subject, two 12.5 point Semester 1 subjects
    • One 25 point Year-long subject

    An approved Reduced Study Load is required, unless you are in the final half-year period of your course.

    No enrolment for the standard semester and less than 50 points overall for the entire half-year period

    • Two 12.5 point Summer subjects, one 12.5 point June subject

    A Leave of Absence for the standard semester with no enrolled subjects is required (e.g. in the example given, a Leave of Absence for Semester 1).

    No enrolment for the half-year period

    • No subjects in January - June period
    • No subjects in July - December period

    A Leave of Absence for the half-year period is required.

    If you plan to apply for a Leave of Absence, you should book a course planning appointment to discuss your circumstances well in advance.

  • Under 18 international students

    Students registered in the Under 18 International Student Supervision Program who take a Leave of Absence must maintain their current accommodation and welfare arrangements to retain their CAAW and student visa until new arrangements are approved or until they leave the country. For more information, see the Under 18 International Student Supervision Program page.

  • Is my leave automatically approved?

    No. Your leave application will be assessed before it can be approved. You can check the progress of your leave application online via my.unimelb. Do not assume that your leave has been approved until you receive formal notification. For more information refer to the University's Enrolment policy.

  • Can I apply for more than one year off my studies?

    Undergraduate and coursework students

    If you would like to request additional leave beyond the standard one-year period or two semesters, this is called 'extra leave'. Extra leave is only approved in exceptional circumstances such as documented ongoing illness, and approval is required.

    You can apply in the usual way following the instructions above, but you will be required to submit supporting documentation when submitting your application.

    Graduate researchers

    Check the Graduate Research Hub for instructions on taking leave.

  • How do I cancel an application for Leave of Absence?

    If your leave has not yet been approved via email, go to the Form Responses page in your leave application, then:

    • Select the relevant 'Submitted' request
    • Click the View button in the top right corner
    • Review the details and click the Cancel button in the top left if you wish to withdraw the application. Your application is now cancelled.
    • Log out in the top right corner of the window.

    If your leave has been approved and you now wish to cancel it, please complete the Leave of Absence supplementary application and declaration form to return to your studies.

  • What do I need to do while I’m on leave and before I return?

    Undergraduate and coursework students

    If you are an undergraduate or coursework student and returning to your studies as scheduled, you are not required to submit a request. If you would like to return early from your approved Leave of Absence, please complete the Leave of Absence supplementary application and declaration form.

    While on a Leave of Absence, you are still considered a current student and will need to complete your re-enrolment in November and December for study in the following year, or your enrolment may be terminated. While on leave, you are required to check your student email account at least twice a week, as this is how the University will communicate with you.

    Ensure you carefully plan your subjects for your return, particularly if you are requesting leave for one semester only, as some subjects are sequential and only offered in one semester each year. Please consult the Handbook for subject availabilities.

    Graduate researchers

    Check the Graduate Research Hub for instructions on returning from leave.

Remember to check your email while you're on leave While on leave you must frequently check your University email account to ensure important University information isn't missed, including information on re-enrolment.