Time Away - long-term / planned

(For information about handling short-term absence see information on Student Absence and Attendance Management.)

A number of undergraduate students spend time away from their degree programme. This raises particular issues in respect of fees due and can also impact on the student’s entitlement for a Student Loan and eligibility for hardship funds. A guidance is available below about the three main scenarios.

Students spending a full year away - Voluntary Time Out / Leave of absence

Where undergraduate students choose (with appropriate permission) to spend a year away from the University during their programme of study, but the period away is neither a necessary nor optional part of the programme of study, they will be considered to be interrupting their programme and will not be registered at the University for the year in question. No tuition fees will be payable. They will not be entitled to a Student Loan during the year out and will not normally be entitled to apply for Access to Learning Funds.

Students spending a full year away - Year Out as Part of the Programme of Study

Where students spend a year away from the campus as part of their programme of study, the University has an obligation to maintain contact with the student and to assist if the student gets into difficulties. There are good practice guidelines relating to such activities arranged by the University.

The definition of a full academic year for this purpose is nine months, ie term-time plus short vacations. Where undergraduate students spend a full academic year of their programme of study away from the institution, and the year away is a necessary or optional part of the programme of study, approximately half the usual full-time tuition fee is payable. This (50% fees) applies to those students who commenced their studies before 2006. For those commencing studies during or later than 2006, the placement fee is approximately 25% of the usual full-time fee.

This fee applies whether students are spending the year abroad or on a placement in this country. Such students will be registered as ‘intercalating’ students during the year they are away.

Sometimes, students who spend a year abroad at an institution under an exchange scheme believe that the fact that they are ‘exchange’ students means they do not have to pay any tuition fee at all during the year abroad. This is not the case. The only students for whom no fee is payable are students who are on an approved ‘Socrates’ exchange programme for the whole of the year away.

Socrates / Erasmus exchanges can only be arranged through the International Office, and until that office has confirmed acceptance of students onto the Socrates / Erasmus programme, students should be advised that a ‘no fee’ year abroad cannot be guaranteed.

In cases where students are away for the whole academic year but only part of that year is under the Socrates / Erasmus programme, half the usual full-time tuition fee is payable. Similarly, it should be noted that, in cases where students choose to return to the University early and do not therefore complete a full-year Socrates / Erasmus placement, half the usual full-time tuition fee will become payable.

Students spending a year away as a compulsory or optional part of their programme are entitled to apply for a Student Loan. They may also apply for Access to Learning Funds provided that they meet the other eligibility requirements for these Funds. Socrates students will receive a grant which is a contribution towards their costs.

Students Spending Part of a Year away from the University

Where students spend a part year away from the campus as part of their programme of study, the University has an obligation to maintain contact with the student and to assist if the student gets into difficulties. There are good practice guidelines relating to such activities arranged by the University.

Where students spend part of an academic year (ie less than nine months) during their programme of study away from the University, and the period away is a necessary or optional part of their programme of study, the normal full-time fee is usually payable. Where students spend less than 10 weeks in aggregate in full-time study at the University, and the rest of the academic year away as part of their programme, approximately half the usual full-time fee is payable (or 25% for those starting their programme from 2006).

Even where students are on Socrates exchange programmes, the full tuition fee is payable if the period spent abroad on the exchange is classed as ‘part’ of a year (though the same 10-week rule mentioned above will apply). The situation becomes particularly complicated where students spend part of a year on a Socrates exchange and part of the year away but on a non-Socrates exchange or placement. Where the two periods combined make a full academic year away, half the usual full-time fee is payable (or 25% for those starting their programme from 2006). For example, a student who spends seven months on a Socrates exchange and two months on a non-Socrates exchange will be liable for a reduced tuition fee.

All students under this heading are entitled to apply for a Student Loan. They may also apply for Access to Learning Funds provided that they meet the other eligibility requirements for these Funds.

These rules are set by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. Further information or clarification may be sought from Student Progress or Finance Department for general queries, the International Office for specific advice about the Socrates scheme or the Student Financial Support team (Student Wellbeing) about the Access to Learning Fund.