At some point during your studies, you may experience circumstances which mean that interrupting your study could be a good option. This could be due to health or personal circumstances. This page gives information about suspending studies. If there is anything that you would like to discuss further, please get in touch with a Just Ask adviser.
What is suspending your studies?
Suspending studies is defined in the regulations as ‘a formal introduction of a pause in a student’s studies during which they are not required to engage with their studies’. It’s only possible to suspend studies for up to 12 months during one programme of study, although this can be extended in exceptional circumstances.
Students don’t automatically have the right to suspend studies, it will only be granted where there are good grounds and supporting evidence such as a doctor’s report.
What is the process for suspending studies?
The first step is to discuss your options with your personal tutor, senior tutor, or other staff member within your school first, as the University must agree to you suspending your studies. You will be able to discuss your academic situation and explore all the options which might be available to you. It may be that suspending studies is the right option for you, or there might be another way forward that would suit you better.
The next step would be to fill in a Request for Suspension of Studies form which you can ask for at your school office. Your tutor/senior tutor will need to sign it too. You may also need to provide medical evidence to show the reason why you wish to suspend.
Once your request to suspend studies is processed, you should receive confirmation of this from your school office. If you do not receive this confirmation within a couple of weeks, it is advisable to chase it up.
Returning to study
When you suspend, you will be told what criteria you’ll need to meet to be able to return to study. It’s likely that you will need to provide proof that you're ready to return. This could be a letter from your doctor or counsellor.
The timing of your return may also depend on factors such as when particular units are running, etc. so you should think about this carefully and discuss it with academic staff. You will still need to pass all the necessary assessments before you can progress to the next stage of your course.
Students with disabilities
It may be that you need to get disability adjustments put in place ready for your return to study. This can be done via Disability Services.
Suspending your studies is likely to have an impact on your finances. If you suspend part way through a term you may need to repay some of your student funding for that term. The Student Funding Office can provide detailed advice on this.
If you are exempt from Council Tax you should retain your exemption as you will remain registered as a student, but you may like to double check this with the Student Funding Office.
If you are no longer studying full time, you are likely to be entitled to welfare benefits. What you may be entitled to depends on your situation. Detailed benefits advice is available from Bristol Citizens Advice Bureau
It is possible to access the Careers Service while you are suspended from study, and for up to 3 years after leaving the University of Bristol. They can give advice about finding work during your period of suspension.
If you are living in University managed accommodation and you leave University for health reasons, you will need to complete an Intention to Leave form which is available from the Accommodation Office. You will remain liable for rent up to the date that you complete the form or the date that you physically leave your accommodation, whichever is later. If you leave University for reasons other than health, you will remain liable for rent for two weeks from the date you submit your Intention to Leave form.
If you are living in private rented accommodation, you are likely to have signed a tenancy agreement taking you up to the end of the academic year. If you want to leave this accommodation before the end of the contract, you should seek specialist advice from the private sector adviser at the Accommodation Office.
If you've already signed a housing contract for the next academic year and you decide that you don’t want to be in Bristol, you may be able to get the contract amended before it starts if you can find someone to take your place in the house. Again, the Accommodation Office can advise further on this.
Access to University services
While you are on suspension you are not expected to engage in your studies at all. After your suspension is processed (usually 2-3 weeks after submitting the form), you will lose access to Blackboard, the library, etc. as you will lose your student status.
If you suspend studies, you will not be entitled to one-to-one counselling sessions or closed groups at the Student Counselling Service but you will still be able to access supported self-help sessions and open groups.
As long as you remain living in the catchment area, you will be able to remain registered with the Student Health Service.
If you have any questions or would like further information about anything on this page, get in touch with Just Ask.