SOAS University of London


Leave of Absence

You may apply for a Leave of Absence if you wish to take a period out of your studies for medical or personal reasons, for a whole year (September to September or January to January).

Interruptions to re-start the year of study: If you wish to take a Leave of Absence part way through the year to re-start your year of study from the coming September, please consult Repeat Study.

Interruptions following non-progression: You do not need to apply for a Leave of Absence if you are not progressing to the next year of your degree and do not wish to repeat study. You will be automatically put on a year’s Leave of Absence by the Exams Office. Please contact for more information on re-entry options.


  • A Leave of Absence is discretionary and must receive regulatory approval from the Registry.
  • A Leave of Absence will not be approved if it would result in the end date of your degree going beyond your time limit for completion. For calculating your time limit, the clock starts when you first joined the School (Reg. 3.1 Taught Degree Regulations 2019/20 (pdf; 534kb) ).
  • You may take a Leave of Absence from anytime in a Term, but you can only come back at the beginning of Term 1 or 2.
  • Your Leave of Absence will take effect either from the date that the application is received in the Registry, or from the start of the following academic year, if you are applying for a Leave of Absence for the following year.
  • You must ensure that you contact the relevant local authority Council Tax Office for advice regarding your Council Tax exemption. If applicable, you must also inform those you share accommodation with about the change of your status as it may affect any student discount that they have applied for.

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Deadline for application:

You can apply at any point in the year but no later than the first day of term 3.

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  • Taking a leave of absence will still leave you liable for fees accrued up until the point you submit the form. Charging starts two weeks from the day you enrol. Please see our charging policy for leave of absences.
    Undergraduates funded by Student Finance follow a different charging system.
  • You are not eligible for a student loan during the period of the Leave of Absence.
  • No tuition fees are due for a period of Leave of Absence.

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Tier 4 visa:

If you require a visa to study in the UK, taking a Leave of Absence may affect your permission to remain in the UK. If you were issued with a CAS by SOAS to obtain your Tier 4 visa, and you decide to stop studying temporarily, the School is required to report this to the Home Office and you will be required to leave the UK. You are strongly advised to make an appointment to discuss your situation with the International Student and Welfare Advisor ( Please be aware that you will have to apply for a new CAS before you return.

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Library access and resources:

While on a Leave of Absence your library access is restricted to Reference Only. Please contact the Library Customer Services team (email: for more information. 
Your SOAS email account willl remain active during your Leave of Absence.

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Coming back:

Nearer the start of next academic year, we will email you to your SOAS account with more details about enrolment for returning students.
You must register for your return year or apply for a further Leave of Absence (with good cause). Failure to do this will result in your withdrawal from SOAS.

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