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Leave of Absence

Please note. This content is from the 2018 Research Student Handbook and should only be used as a guide. Please refer to the 2019 Research Student Handbook PDF for current information.

It is preferable to progress your research program without interruption as far as possible and this is particularly true in the final stages of candidature. However, in some circumstances such as in case of illness, financial or family difficulties, it may be sensible to take a leave of absence until the problems have been resolved

When leave of absence is granted, the ‘clock’ stops ticking, which means that precious candidature and scholarship time are not being eroded during a period when you are not able to work at full capacity. During periods of approved leave of absence you are not covered by insurance, therefore you must not continue to work on your research.

Is there a limit on when and how much leave I can take?

Yes. Irrespective of full-time or half-time status, you may take a maximum of 12 months of leave of absence during your candidature with the endorsement of your school. However, (for students commencing in or after 2015) leave is not permitted except in exceptional circumstances, during the twelve months immediately prior to your candidature expiry date, or, during an extension of candidature, or, during a candidature reactivated for the purposes of revising and resubmitting a thesis for re-examination.

The Research Education and Development Committee will consider applications for leave beyond 12 months, or in the final stages of candidature (≥2015 commencers), only where there are exceptional circumstances that are beyond your control.

It is important to note that if you are granted exceptional leave, the University will endeavour to ensure, but cannot guarantee, that it will be possible for you to resume the project you were pursuing prior to taking leave. On your return from leave, several factors will need to be considered: for example, is your research still current, or, have advances in the field superseded the work that you were doing? Are the same supervisor(s) still available to supervise your research? Because of staff departures, study leave and/or work load issues, it may not be possible for you to be placed with the same supervisor(s) on returning from leave and in extreme cases, particularly in very specialised fields, there may be no staff in the Discipline who are equipped to supervise your research. Regrettably, in these cases, you should be aware that continuation of your candidature may not be possible.

If you wish to apply for leave of absence, first discuss your situation with your supervisors and then complete the form ‘Application for leave of absence’, attaching a medical certificate if you are applying for leave on medical grounds. Your supervisors and the head of school or postgraduate coordinator must support your application.

It is important to note that, except with the written approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies, if you are enrolled in both a higher degree by research and another program(s), you will only be granted leave of absence from your research higher degree if all other programs in which you are enrolled are also intermitted. When leave of absence is approved, your candidature will be extended by the period of time for which the leave was granted.

Note that students are entitled to take four weeks of annual leave per year. Annual leave does not affect your milestone due dates, or candidature/scholarship expiry dates and any scholarship payments will continue as usual. Domestic students are not required to complete an application form for annual leave; however, it is important to discuss your plans and negotiate any time that you will be absent from the University with your supervisors.

Scholarship Holders

Continuation of a scholarship after a period of leave of absence exceeding the maximum entitlement will be subject to the approval of your School and the Dean of Graduate Studies. Some scholarship holders may be entitled to receive additional paid sick leave during the term of their(major) scholarship for periods of illness lasting longer than ten days and for which a medical certificate has been provided. If you are unsure of your entitlements, please contact the Adelaide Graduate Centre for advice.

As your scholarship payments will be suspended whilst you are on leave (excepting paid medical leave), it is advisable to apply for leave of absence at least two weeks in advance of the commencement date of the leave, where possible, to ensure that your scholarship payment can be adjusted before an overpayment is incurred. You will be required to reimburse the University in the event of a scholarship overpayment.

International Students

Annual Recreation leave

Taking annual leave does not affect your student visa in any way. However, as an international student if you are planning to travel interstate or overseas during your recreation leave, you will need to complete the form ‘Application for Leave of Absence and/or Recreation Leave for International Research Students' to ensure that the University has your current contact details in the event of an emergency e.g. natural disaster.

If you do not plan to take recreation leave interstate or overseas, you simply need to negotiate the time you will be away from the University with your supervisors (to a maximum of four weeks per calendar year).

Leave of absence

If you plan to take a leave of absence from your studies, you need to be aware of the implications this will have on your visa status.

  • As a student visa holder, you are expected to study while you remain onshore in Australia. This is because study is the main condition of your student visa. Research students are allowed to take a leave of absence for up to 28 calendar days (i.e. including weekends) in any given calendar year (i.e. from 1 January until 31 December) without it affecting their student visa. If you need to take a Leave of Absence for longer than 28 days in a given calendar year, please contact International Student Support and ask to speak to a Compliance Officer about your leave options.

Note that if a research student takes more than 28 days Leave of Absence in a given calendar year, the University of Adelaide is required to report this to the Department of Home Affairs.

Depending on the circumstances, this may result in the cancellation of your CoE and subsequently your student visa. To allow time for any visa/sponsorship issues to be addressed and for any scholarship payments to be adjusted, it is important that your application for Leave of Absence should be lodged with the Graduate Centre at least 10 working days in advance of the planned leave or 15 working days in advance if you are a scholarship holder.

Return From Leave of Absence

On return from leave, it is important that you notify the Adelaide Graduate Centre so that your enrolment and any scholarship payments can be reactivated.

Note that:

  1. within two weeks of your expected date of return, you are required to notify the Adelaide Graduate Centre of the resumption of your candidature by completing and lodging the 'Return from Leave of Absence' form.
  2. if you do not intend to return from leave on the date previously approved by the University, you are required to apply for an extension of leave of absence at least one week prior to the originally approved date of return.

Failure to comply with the conditions specified above will result in the suspension of your candidature.

International Students

Under the provisions of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000, the University must notify the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) if a student breaches his/her visa conditions. Failure to return from leave of absence on the approved date constitutes such a breach and following notification of Department of Home Affairs (DHA), is likely to result in the cancellation of your student visa.


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