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Course changes and periods of absence for Student visa holders

What to do if you want to change your studies, request an absence or withdraw from your studies, or complete your course early on a Student visa.

Changing your course of study

Changing your course (including adding or dropping a placement) may affect your Student visa. You might have to apply for a new visa overseas before the change can take place.

If you wish to change your programme at Bath:

  • first discuss the matter with your personal tutor, postgraduate tutor or supervisor
  • your tutor or supervisor will then submit a Change of Circumstance form to the Student Immigration Service
  • the Student Immigration Service will check whether your course change is permitted by the immigration rules, and advise you of any impact on your Student visa

Authorised absence

If you are studying on a Student visa, you must be studying your course from within the UK and regularly attend on campus sessions, whether you are studying an undergraduate, a postgraduate taught or a doctoral programme.

If you hold a Student visa but need to be absent for longer than seven calendar days, you must request a period of authorised absence. You do not need to do this if your absence is for up to seven calendar days, such as if you are ill.

Your request will be authorised at the discretion of your department, based on your ability to:

  • engage with your course / study / placement
  • submit assessments or coursework
  • progress normally on your course

Fees are not refunded for periods of authorised absence.

Undergraduate students

You will not normally be permitted an authorised absence during designated teaching weeks.

During vacation weeks, you do not need to be on campus and do not need to request an authorised absence.

Postgraduate taught students

You will not normally be permitted to take authorised absence during designated teaching and examination weeks, unless your teaching and assessment pattern of the programme permits this.

During the summer vacation, you are expected to study for your dissertation. If you plan to complete your dissertation from outside the UK, you will be required to request an authorised absence.

Doctoral students

You are expected to study throughout the year, including breaks between semesters and summer vacation, and must request an authorised absence when requesting a vacation.

To do this please request an authorised absence under the 'vacation' category in SAMIS. lf you would like to request a vacation after you have submitted your thesis and you are awaiting your viva, please use the 'post submission' category. If you wish to undertake a work placement, use the 'PGR placement' category.

You must request a period of authorised absence if you plan to complete fieldwork away from the University. This is to ensure the University holds an up-to-date record of where you are.

Maximum period of absence

The maximum continuous period of absence that can be granted without suspending your studies is 60 days (with the exception of doctoral fieldwork, or, exceptionally, when awaiting a viva voce examination after thesis submission).

If you are unable to return to your studies by the expected date, you should make a request to extend your absence, as long as this does not exceed 60 days.

Frequent and successive short periods of absence will not normally be permitted.

Requesting an authorised absence

To log an authorised absence, go to SAMIS on the web, Student Home>Student tasks>Request/View authorised absences. Once received, we will pass your request on to your Director of Studies (or doctoral supervisor) for approval. You will receive an email to let you know the outcome of your request.

Suspending your studies

If you intend to suspend your studies, please make sure you talk to a Student Immigration Adviser before you make your final decision.

If you suspend your course, the University is legally obliged to inform UKVI and:

  • you will need to leave the UK as soon as possible, and within 60 days
  • you may be able to apply for a tuition fee refund
  • your course end date is likely to change
  • your visa is likely to be cancelled and you will need to apply for a new visa before returning to the UK
  • any time you spend in suspense may count towards the Student visa time limit for degree-level study

Withdrawing from your studies

If you wish to withdraw from your course:

  • the University is legally obliged to inform UKVI
  • you will need to leave the UK as soon as possible, and within 60 days
  • your visa is likely to be cancelled
  • you must tell the Student Immigration Service the date you plan to leave the UK

Finishing your course early

Some students finish their course earlier than the course end date listed on their Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). This can include where you have removed a placement year from your course, or doctoral students who have submitted their final thesis earlier than expected.

If your course ends earlier than the course end date listed on your current CAS, we will report this to UKVI. Your Student visa will then be cancelled and will expire early. Your new visa expiry date will likely be four months after your new course end date.

If you are intending to apply for the Graduate visa, and have finished your course early, please contact us for advice.

Visa cancellation and travel outside of the Common Travel Area

If your Student visa is cancelled and you leave the Common Travel Area (CTA) during the remaining time left on your visa, your visa will be cancelled with immediate effect after you have left the CTA. This means that if you want to return to the UK again, you will need to secure an alternative visa. If you try to re-enter using your Student visa, you will likely be refused entry at the border.


If you have any questions, please contact us.