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Absence procedure for students with a Student Route visa

Information on why and how students should request absence.

The information below applies to those students on a Student visa studying on a taught programme.   

Research Students please refer to information here. To discuss/request absence please contact the Research Administrator at your Doctoral College 

Why do we record absence for students on a Student visa?

We monitor attendance for all our students. However, Home Office policy states when absence will affect a Student visa. This is why there is a formal process for requesting absence for those students on a Student visa.

When should I request an authorised absence?

Requests must be submitted for an absence of more than 5 working days during term time.

Term time includes all periods outside of official University vacation periods where you are expected to be studying. This includes during reading weeks, induction weeks and when working on your dissertation/project, deferrals/referrals etc.  Different programmes will have different vacation times.  Please check with your School or in your programme handbook if you are not sure when yours are.

Reasons for absence may include:

  • Religious/cultural reasons.
  • Personal reasons e.g family emergencies, attending ceremonies overseas or short term ill health.

Think carefully before asking for any absence. Please make sure that any period of absence will not affect your studies and that you can catch up on any missed study time. Periods away from study can not only can affect your results they could also affect your ability to apply for another visa including the Graduate Route visa. Absence requests should be exceptional. You will have plenty of time time to go on holiday once your studies have ended.

What is not a valid reason?

  • Those on a taught programme cannot request absence to study from overseas. This includes conducting research or collating data from overseas.
  • You cannot request absence so that you can work full time.

If you are returning to your home country to complete your studies as an online distance learner, you do not need to complete an absence form. However, visa sponsorship will be stopped, and you will not be able to re-enter the UK on your Student visa.

Can my request be refused?

Yes. If your Programme Leader does not authorise the absence, you must attend all studies as usual. 

Any absence must not impact your ability to complete your studies by your visa end date.  If you cannot complete on time, then any request must be refused.  In this situation, you need to defer your studies, leave the UK, and apply for a new visa to return.

Please note that your Programme Leader approves the absence request, not the Student Immigration Team (SIT).   All SIT can do is advise you of the impact on your visa.

How to request absence. 

  1. Complete the first section of the Absence Request Form
  2. Take or email the form to your Programme Leader.
  3. The Programme Leader will complete Section 2 and confirm if the absence has been granted (or not).
  4. The Programme Leader will email the completed form to SIT Compliance 

Please note that HIC students should also contact HIC as they may also require you to complete their own absence form.

When do I need to make my request?

  • A request for absence should be submitted at least 5 working days in advance of the absence.
  • You should leave enough time for the request to be approved before you start the absence.
  • A form must be completed for every period of absence requested. Once approved it will only cover the dates on the form. Once approved, if you need a longer absence than the one originally requested, then you need new approval before the current approval expires (see Can I extend my absence?).
  • Requests made during or after the absence will be treated as unauthorised absence.

Can I extend my absence?

In some exceptional circumstances, yes.

If, due to unforeseen circumstances or an emergency, you need to extend your absence period after it has already begun, you must submit a new absence request form before your current authorised absence period ends.

Your school will decide whether they can allow you to extend your period of absence for the length of time that you have requested on the new absence request form.

If your school decides that cannot authorise this absence extension, you will be required to return to study at the end of your original authorised absence period.

You must receive confirmation that the absence extension is authorised before you take the absence. If you extend your absence period without authorisation, this will be counted as an unauthorised absence.

What is unauthorised absence?

This is where someone on a student visa is absent for more than 5 working days during term time without getting prior approval from their School (in accordance with the absence request process). 

Unauthorised absence can result in withdrawal and cancellation of your visa.

If you need to extend your visa at a later date, then no new CAS will be issued to support an in-country visa application. 

Please speak to your School if you have taken a leave of absence without prior approval.

Further important information

  • Please remember to start swiping your physical ID card again as soon as you are back on campus.   Any misuse of your student ID will be referred to the Dean of Students and could result in the cancellation of your student visa.
  • If you left the UK, you must provide proof of your return (e.g. passport entry stamp or boarding pass). Please email proof to  If you fail to provide proof of your return, your visa sponsorship will be withdrawn.


Contact Us

Student Immigration Team (Compliance)

Student Immigration Team (Advice & Compliance)

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