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Students who receive financial sponsorship, e.g. from an overseas government or a Research Council, should be aware that any changes to their student status will need to be notified to their sponsors and may require their sponsor’s approval before being considered by your College. This includes requests for the following: Interruptions, extensions, change of mode of attendance, changes in supervisors or research topics, withdrawals. Students should be aware that this may delay the consideration of their request, which should be submitted in good time.

Further information can be found on: https://www.exeter.ac.uk/students/finance/studentfees/

Detailed information can be found in our Teaching Quality Assurance Manual Chapter 5 - Periods of registration and changes to registration status for graduate research students.

Am I entitled to annual leave as part of my degree and if so how much can I take? 

All PGR students are entitled to annual leave, and we encourage you to make full use of your annual leave. Full-time PGR students are entitled to take up to 8 weeks of holiday per year, inclusive of bank holidays and University closure days, pro-rate for students studying on a part-time basis. In taking leave you are expected to take active steps to manage your studies, to not take more than four weeks of leave at a time, and to plan your leave to ensure that it does not impact on your studies or upon maintaining regular contact with their supervisory team. You should provide your supervisors with reasonable advance notice of the dates when you plan to take holiday. 

Please refer to the ‘Statement of Procedures: Periods of registration and changes to registration status for graduate research students 6. Annual Leave’ for more information. 

*Students studying on the DClinPsy programme should consult their student handbook for further guidance. 

The Statement of Procedures on transferring from full-time to part-time status or part-time to full-time status is accessible from the link below: 

Periods of Registration and Changes to Registration Status for Graduate Research Students

If you are temporarily unable to engage with your studies, you can apply for an interruption of study. An interruption of study involves taking a complete break from study for an agreed period of time.

The University's Statement of Procedures on interruption is accessible from the link below:
Chapter 5 - Periods of registration and changes to registration status for graduate research students

Why do students interrupt their studies?

Students take a break from their studies for a range of reasons. Some examples of common reasons for interruption include:

  • Health reasons (mental or physical health problems)
  • Maternity/Paternity/Adoption/Family Leave
  • Financial circumstances
  • Military Service

Is it just me?

It might feel like you are the only person interrupting your studies as all of your friends continue but many students take a break and you are certainly not the only one. Taking time away to focus on your health and wellbeing – and any other matters that may be affecting you – can have a positive impact for your academic life when you return. Taking a break allows you time to focus on your wellbeing to help you feel in a better headspace when you resume your studies.

We would encourage you to make the most of your time away by engaging with support and treatment, if needed, so you are better placed to reach your potential when you come back.

Before you apply

It can be difficult to decide whether taking a break from your studies is the right thing for you to do and we would encourage you to speak to first discuss this with your Supervisor, PGR Support team and/or Education Welfare Advisor (ESAW).

Taking an interruption of study may have financial and visa implications. You are encouraged to speak with a member of the PGR Support Team who can provide independent advice about the potential implications of taking an interruption. 

If your interruption is on medical grounds it is essential that you provide a medical certificate that explicitly supports the period you intend to interrupt for.

All students requesting an interruption of study should complete a return to study plan with their Supervisor. You will not be able to receive formal supervision during any period of your interruption. 

How to apply

Once you have followed the advice above, an application form can be accessed via a link on the MyPGR contact diary page. We are unable to directly link to this form on the website, as each form is embedded in each students profile in MyPGR. 

Please ensure that you complete the pre-interruption check list which will give you full details of everything that you need to do prior to interrupting.  

Further Information

If you are funded by a Research Council, you should be aware that the approval of the Research Council should be sought before seeking the approval of the University.

ESRC: Please note that suspensions can only be considered during the funded period of the studentship. Please contact your College PGR Administrator for advice and more information and refer to the Guidance and information for ESRC-funded students. NOTE: If a student interrupts their registration after their ESRC funding has finished a suspension cannot be considered. In those instances, the DTC must submit a submission date extension request to ESRC for approval.

Returning from Interruption

All students who are due to return from interruption should ensure that they complete the Return to Study from Interruption Check List.

Returning from Medical Interruption

In addition to the actions required as part of the Return to Study from Interruption Check List, all students returning from Medical Interruption will need to complete a Self-Certification Form prior to their return which is to confirm that they are fit to resume their studies.

Students who meet the following conditions:

  • Prior to interruption has been supported by HWSS at Level 2 and above and/or Fitness to Practice processes, and/or
  • Has been interrupted for 12 months or more, and/or
  • Has had more than one instance of medical interruption during the last 12 months
  • Any other exceptional circumstances under which it has been deemed necessary for a  student to demonstrate their fitness to return to study

Will also be required to meet with the PGR Education Welfare Advisor either on their return or within 1 month prior to their return date and will be required to provide additional medical evidence that they are well enough to return to their studies (either medical certification or details of their medical practitioner for follow up by the Wellbeing team). 

Documents of Guidance:

Extensions to the maximum period of study are only granted in exceptional circumstances and must be approved by the Dean of Research in your College.  If you wish to apply for an extension you may do so by completing the Postgraduate Research Students Extension form. You are required to submit an outline of work completed and a work-plan and schedule for completion of the remaining parts.  If your request is approved your College will write to you to confirm the new submission deadline for your thesis/dissertation.

AHRC and ESRC students who require an extension to their submission date must submit the extension form to the Doctoral Partnerships Team three months before the submission deadline date, which will then be forwarded to the AHRC or ESRC for approval

For BBSRC, EPSRC, MRC, NERC and STFC please refer to specific Terms and Conditions

For international students, an extension to the length of programme will in most cases require the student to extend their visa. In all cases the student should make an appointment to see an International Student Advisor for the correct procedures to follow.

The University has a Statement of Procedures on periods of study permitted for research degrees which also covers the process for permitting extensions. This is accessible from the link below.

Chapter 5 - Periods of registration and changes to registration status for graduate research students

I am not feeling well enough to study today, what should I do? 

You should advise your supervisor of short term illnesses and complete the PGR Self Certification Sickness form, you should also ensure you contact any other staff you were due to meet with today, e.g. to attend training.  

I have been off sick for more than 7 days, what should I do? 

Absences of more than 7 days should be notified to your supervisor, you should complete a PGR Self Certification Sickness form and a copy of a medical certificate should be submitted in addition to your Self Certification form. 

Students experiencing ongoing sickness should discuss their concerns with a member of their supervisory team or their PGR pastoral tutor, as a period of interruption may be appropriate.  

The PGR Support team can offer advice on your eligibility for sickness pay according to your particular sponsorship arrangements. Please note that it is exceptional for the start date of an interruption to be back-dated. If you are considering applying for an interruption due to illness please ensure you do so as soon as possible, 

Please contact your PGR Support Team for more information.  

If your health and wellbeing is having an impact on your ability to study or studying is creating health problems for you, confidential and non-judgemental support can be provided by the University: 

PGR specific Wellbeing Support (all PGR Students) 
Student Wellbeing (Exeter Campuses) 
Student Support and Wellbeing (Cornwall Campuses) 

Does taking sick leave affect my doctoral funding? 

Sickness Pay 

If you are in receipt of studentship funding through the University, your stipend payment will not normally be suspended or adjusted during short-term periods of sickness or other authorised absences of less than one month.  

If you are absent from your studies for one month or more due to illness, you may be advised to take an Interruption of Study. We will advise you on your eligibility for sickness pay according to your particular sponsorship arrangements. Please note that it is exceptional for the start date of an interruption to be back-dated. If you are considering applying for an interruption due to illness please ensure you do so as soon as possible.

Please contact your PGR Support Team for more information.  

Am I entitled to sickness pay as a student? 

Sickness pay is available to students who are funded from a UKRI Training Grant. For these students they are entitled to 13 weeks (91 days) paid sick leave within any rolling 12 month period.  

*Students studying on the DClinPsy programme should consult their student handbook for further guidance. 

If you are funded by the University of Exeter (even partially), you may be eligible for sickness absence pay, full details of which can be found on our funding webpages. 

Am I entitled to sickness pay if I am working at the University (as a PTA)? 

Please refer to the Human Resources Guidance for more information  

Am I entitled to Maternity/Parental/Adoption Leave? 

Our Parent and Carer webpage, details all the information about what you need to know if you are either/both a parent or carer.  

Please see the ‘Student Pregnancy, Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Policy’ for more information, you might also like to note that annex C of which, covers provision of stipend payments for funded postgraduate research students. 

The University's Statement of Procedures on the withdrawal of students may be found by accessing the link below:

Chapter 5 - Periods of Registration and Changes to Registration Status for Graduate Research Student

The University's Statement of Procedures on Reinstatement may be found by accessing the link below: 

Chapter 5 - Periods of registration and changes to registration status for graduate research students