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.
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.
You may request a Leave of Absence for one or two half-year periods. This will mean that your course is put on hold for you to complete after you've returned from your leave. However:
- You are not permitted to take this leave during the first six months of your course. Instead, you should apply to defer your offer.
- 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 and still have them recorded as enrolled for that study period, and so do not require a Leave of Absence. However, you should apply for a Leave of Absence for the next half-year period if you plan on taking a longer break.
If you wish to take time off from your course but are ineligible for leave, book a course planning appointment at Stop 1 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.
- Log into my.unimelb and navigate to the 'Student admin' box on the homepage, click on the 'My study plan' button, then click 'Leave of Absence'. Alternatively, if you are using the beta version of my.unimelb, you can log straight into your Leave of Absence page.
- Fill out the form fields. The Start Year and Study Period is when you plan to start your Leave of Absence. The Return Year and Study Period is when you plan to return to study. 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.
- Click Confirm.
- You will be taken to the Confirm Details screen.
- Click Submit, or Update to change your details.
- You will be taken to the Confirmation screen. Check that the details of your application for leave of absence are correct.
- Click Close.
- You may view your application status by clicking Leave of Absence under Study Plans. You may also apply for leave from another course.
- If you hold a student visa, you must complete the leave of absence declaration form after submitting your leave request.
Check the Graduate Research Hub for instructions on taking leave.
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.
Compassionate or compelling circumstances may include:
- serious illness or injury
- the death of a close family member
- witnessing or being involved in a traumatic experience
- childcare or maternity
- military service in your home country
- failure to obtain a student visa as a currently enrolled student (if you're a new student you’ll need to defer your start date)
- being unable to enrol in any subjects because of the structure of your program.
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 is temporarily suspended. You are not required to depart Australia and your visa will remain valid.
Taking a Leave of Absence will usually change your course duration beyond the expiry date of your visa, so you'll need to request a new Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) and apply for a new student visa before your current one expires.
Leave for other reasons
Other reasons for taking a Leave of Absence may include:
- difficulties adjusting to living in Australia or academic life
- relationship problems
- financial difficulties
- travel or employment opportunities
- family or customary obligations, such as weddings of a relative or friend.
If your reasons for taking a Leave of Absence are not compassionate or compelling, 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.
Before you return to Australia to resume your studies, you must obtain a new CoE and if your visa has been cancelled you will need to apply for a new student visa. You can check your visa status online via VEVO.
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 status Examples of enrolment Action 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 have an approved Leave of Absence and need to extend your Confirmation of Enrolment, request an extension several months before your visa is due to expire.
If you plan to apply for a Leave of Absence, you should book a course planning appointment at Stop 1 to discuss your circumstances well in advance.
Is my leave automatically approved?
No. Your leave application will be assessed before it is 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 from Stop 1 is required.
Complete the Leave of Absence supplementary application and declaration form to apply for extra leave.
Check the Graduate Research Hub for instructions on taking leave.
How do I cancel an application for Leave of Absence?
Complete the Leave of Absence supplementary application and declaration form to cancel your application.
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 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 October and November for study in the following year, or your enrolment may be terminated. While on leave, you are required to check your student email 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.
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.