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Suspend your studies

Suspending your studies allows you to take a break from studying while keeping your place in the course.


If you've started your studies but would like to take a break, you can suspend your studies for a semester, research period or for a full academic year. Student visa holders may have additional requirements and/or limitations when applying for a suspension.

If you want to suspend your course for longer than one year, your application will be forwarded to the relevant associate dean for approval.

If you haven't started your studies (and have not enrolled in your course) and would like to postpone your start date you will need to request a deferral.


Research students

If you're a research student wanting to suspend, you should read our Request leave from your research page.

Before you suspend

It is important that you seek academic advice from your faculty/school or course director before you suspend, to help understand how this may impact your studies.

If you are planning to suspend your studies, be aware of the time limits for completing your course requirements, outlined in the Coursework Rule (pdf, 484KB). All students need to complete their course requirements within 10 years, including periods of suspension.

If you’re in a course with a shorter time period, periods of suspension will not count towards your course time limit unless the degree resolutions in your handbook state otherwise. You will still need to complete your course requirements within 10 years.

It is important for you to make any necessary changes to your study as early as possible. If you’re receiving government payments you also need to tell the Australian Government about any changes to your study.

Check the census date before you apply:

  • if it’s before the census date, you’ll be able to apply in Sydney Student
  • if the census date has passed, follow the instructions on our How to apply page.

If you have a scholarship or are receiving any financial assistance from the University, you will need to notify us about your decision to suspend your course. Visit our Scholarships page for more information.

You should also check your scholarship’s terms and conditions for how your scholarship scheme counts periods of suspension.

If you are unable to continue with your studies due to compassionate or compelling circumstances you can apply to suspend your studies using the documents listed below as your supporting documents.


'Compassionate or compelling' circumstances are generally those beyond your control and which have an impact upon your progress or wellbeing. These could include, but are not limited to:

  • serious illness or injury
  • death of a close family member
  • childcare/maternity
  • military service in your home country
  • if your faculty or school is unable to offer any units of study because of the course structure
  • major political upheaval or natural disaster in your home country which has impacted your studies
  • a traumatic experience, which could include:
    • involvement in, or witnessing of a serious accident; or
    • witnessing or being a victim of a serious crime, which has impacted you (these cases should be supported by a police or psychologist report).

Circumstances where you cannot suspend your studies

These include but are not limited to:

  • career reasons
  • work arrangements or an internship which is not part of your course structure (outside your studies)
  • waiting for credit application to be finalised.

Supporting documents

You will need to upload all supporting documents when you submit your request through Sydney Student. Your faculty or school may require additional documents. We will not assess any requests without the required documents.

Documents issued in a language other than English need to be translated into English by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI). Both documents in original language and NAATI translation must be provided in the request. 

Reason for application

Type of documents needed

Serious illness or injury

A signed medical certificate/report with appropriate letterhead from a doctor/psychologist stating that you are unable to attend classes.

Medical certificates should:

  • be issued within three months of the suspension start date
  • have a clear duration of recommended time away from studies
  • include a treatment plan if applicable
  • indicate that you will be impacted for a substantial period of the semester.

You can provide a detailed statement from a counsellor from the University’s Student Counselling Service team who has been involved in your assessment and/or treatment.

A Professional Practitioner Certificate (PPC) is not acceptable for suspension requests.

Death/serious illness of a close family member Death certificate/medical certificate and proof of relationship. 
Childcare/maternity reasons The medical certificate with the expected due date or birth certificate of the child
No units of study are available because of the structure of your course Supporting documents not necessary
Military service in your home country
  • Passport
  • Formal conscription letter that is less than three months old, with translation
Compelling circumstances that have resulted in you missing study

Relevant documents such as medical certificates, death certificates, proof of relationship, birth certificates or police reports.

If you are unable to provide the documents required, you may complete the general student declaration form (docx, 52KB) outlining the reasons for not being able to obtain the documents.

If your suspension is approved, the University will notify the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), and your eCoE will be cancelled. A new eCoE with the new recommencement date will be issued. Your student visa may be affected, therefore you will need to liaise with the Department of Home Affairs for advice. Please refer to the information about changes to your study situation on the DHA website.

Documents and eligibility

You should review the information on suspension in your faculty or school handbook. Your faculty or school may need you to provide supplementary documents as part of your request to suspend, for example, a recommencement study plan. If there are additional requirements, this is outlined below.

All students are recommended to seek Academic Advice well in advance of any suspension requests. If you are an undergraduate coursework student and would like to have a third or fourth semester of suspension, you should provide any supporting documents relating to your reason, such as medical or other circumstances, for the Associate Dean's consideration. If you do not provide relevant documentation to support your request, this may lead to a delay in consideration of your request.

Fifth semester suspensions and onwards also require the completion of a study plan detailing your plan to complete the remainder of your course within the 10-year time limit.

Students in the Sydney School of Education and Social Work in all circumstances should acquire a study plan with assistance from the School directly – please refer to their Canvas page for contact details.

If you are completing honours and would like to suspend your studies, you need to get written permission from your supervisor and honours coordinator. Submit a suspension request through Sydney Student and upload a copy of the written permission. You can only suspend for one semester. If your suspension is approved, you'll need to complete your studies within five consecutive semesters.

If you are a postgraduate coursework student and suspend your studies for one or two semesters, the same length of time will be added to the maximum time in which you are normally required to complete your studies.

If you are an undergraduate student or undertaking the Master of Teaching, you can be granted a suspension for a period of one year (two semesters). Suspensions of only one semester are not permitted due to the structure of your course.

You cannot be granted a suspension to undertake other study.

Make sure you have spoken to a Program Support Officer in Sydney School of Education and Social Work before submitting a suspension request. You need to attach the relevant supporting documents as part of your application. Not submitting the relevant supporting documents may cause delays in processing your application.

Bachelor of Laws

You are only able to suspend your Law studies for one year, except in cases where you are planning to undertake honours in your first degree or in exceptional circumstances. Check the course resolutions in the Sydney Law School handbook for more information.

If you decide to take a break from your studies, it’s important that you apply for a suspension before the census date rather than fail to enrol, as this will result in a lapse of candidature. As the Bachelor of Laws doesn’t exist as a standalone degree, a lapse of candidature means that you will not be able to re-apply for admission to the degree.

It is important to note that you need to complete your combined degree requirements within 10 calendar years. This includes any semester(s) of suspension.

Juris Doctor

If you are studying full time, you are not able to suspend your studies in Year 1 of the program. If you are studying part time, you are not able to suspend your studies in Years 1 or 2 of the program.

You can suspend your studies for a maximum period of two calendar years in total.

It is important to note that you need to complete your degree requirements within 10 calendar years. This includes any semester(s) of suspension.

You should discuss your intention to suspend with the program director for your degree before submitting an application. If you have not completed your principal study (instrumental and vocal students), you may need to organise a diagnostic audition before recommencing your studies.

Undergraduate coursework students

If you would like to take a third or fourth semester of suspension you will need to provide supporting documents in your application.

Postgraduate coursework students

If you are a postgraduate coursework student (except for Graduate Diploma in Psychology students) you will need to provide approval from your course director to support any period of suspension that you wish to take.

Graduate Diploma in Psychology students

If you would like to take a third or fourth semester of suspension you will need to provide approval from your course director to support your suspension.

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Last updated: 29 May 2024

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