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University of Bath

Course changes and periods of absence (Tier 4 students)

What to do if you want to change your studies or request a temporary or permanent period of leave from the University on a Tier 4 visa

Changing your course of study

Changing your course (including adding or dropping a placement) may affect your Tier 4 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

Authorised absence

If you are studying on a Tier 4 visa but need to be absent for longer than 7 calendar days, you must request a period of ‘authorised absence’. You do not need to do this if your absence is for up to 7 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 and examination 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 are on a non-Pilot visa (courses lasting more than 13 months, excluding duration of pre-sessionals) and 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 you must request an authorised absence under the 'vacation' category in SAMIS. lf you have submitted your thesis, are awaiting your viva and would like to request a vacation, use the 'post submission' 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, which can be more than 60 days).

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 curtailed
  • you will need to apply for a new visa before returning to the UK
  • any time you spend in the UK while your studies are suspended may count towards your visa's 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 curtailed
  • you must tell the Student Immigration Service the date you plan to leave the UK

Finishing your course early

If your course ends earlier than expected we will report this to UKVI. Your permission to stay will then be curtailed (shortened) to your new end date, plus the additional time granted on your original visa (usually 4 months).

Visa curtailment and travel outside of the Common Travel Area

If your Tier 4 visa is curtailed and you leave the Common Travel Area during the remaining time left on your visa, your visa will lapse. This means that if you leave the UK and want to return again, you will need to secure an alternative visa. If you try to re-enter using your Tier 4 visa, you will be refused entry.