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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.

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.

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 as a result of COVID-19 impacts, such as health or well-being issues, financial impacts or challenges associated with remote learning, you can apply to suspend your studies using a student declaration form as your supporting document.

If you are unable to continue with your studies due to compassionate or compelling circumstances, and these are not COVID-19 related, you can apply to suspend your studies. 


'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).

Supporting documents

You will need to provide the following supporting documents with your application. Your faculty or school may require additional documents. Requests without supporting documents may be refused. 

An overseas medical certificate issued in a language other than English needs to be translated into English by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI).

You will need to upload all evidence when you submit your request through Sydney Student. We will not approve any requests without the required documents.

Reason for application

Type of documents needed

COVID-19 impacts

The University wishes to avoid placing an additional burden on the health care system during the COVID-19 crisis. As an alternative to a medical certificate or other medical documents, you can submit a student declaration form (docx, 52KB), with any available supporting evidence, that describes the misadventure, illness or injury that you suffered and for how long.
The form needs to be signed and include the following information:

  • full name and student ID number
  • an explanation of how the COVID-19 circumstances have affected your ability to study or enrol in a full-time load
  • the potential duration of the impact caused by the COVID-19 circumstances.

Serious illness or injury

A signed medical certificate with appropriate letterhead from a doctor 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 and 
  • should indicate that you will be impacted for a substantial period of the semester.
Mental health issue

Report issued by psychologist with a clear treatment plan. Report should be less than three months old. If you are unable to obtain the required medical documents and/or if your condition is a result of COVID-19 related circumstances, please complete the student declaration form (docx, 52KB) outlining the reasons for not being able to obtain this documents.

Compelling circumstances that have resulted in you missing study

Relevant documents such as medical certificates, statutory declarations, death certificates, birth certificates or police reports.

No units of study are available because of the structure of your course

Confirmation letter from your faculty or school
Military service in your home country
  • Passport
  • Formal conscription letter that is less than three months old, with translation

If your suspension is approved, the University will notify the Department of Home Affairs and your eCoE will be cancelled. A new eCoE with the new recommencement date will be issued. Your student visa may be affected due to this suspension, therefore you will need to liaise with the Department of Home Affairs for advice.

You can contact our Compliance team for general advice relating to your suspension such as, eligibility, supporting documents, or eCoE duration.

Documents and eligibility

Your faculty or school may need you to provide supplementary documents as part of your request to suspend, for example, a recommencement study plan. You should review the information on suspension in your faculty or school handbook.

If you are an undergraduate coursework student and would like to have a third or fourth semester of suspension, you will need to provide supporting documents or a supporting statement for the Associate Dean's consideration.

If you are completing honours and would like to suspend your studies, you need to get written permission from your supervisor or 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: 27 August 2021

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