Interruption of study information and guidelines.
Interruption of study 'stops the clock' when a student is unable to continue with their studies due to illness or absence. It is important to note that students who fail to submit a thesis on time, and who have not been granted an interruption or extension, may be deemed to have withdrawn and will have their registration recorded as lapsed.
What is an interruption?
An interruption of study concession is applicable where a student is unable to work on the thesis for a significant period of time due to circumstances that are largely beyond their own control. Periods of interruption do not count towards the student’s total permitted period of study and do not incur any additional fees or charges. These circumstances might include:
- Health reasons (mental or physical health problems)
- Maternity/Paternity/Adoption/Family Leave
- Employment opportunities/internships
- Financial circumstances
- Military Service
PGR degree regulations state that the maximum authorised interruption of study period will not exceed 100% of the Prescribed Period of Study (e.g. 36 months for full time PhD students). Any single period of interruption should not be shorter than one month and must not exceed 12 months.
However, if you are in receipt of funding from an external funding body (e.g. UKRI/EPSRC) or external scholarship provider, the terms and conditions of your funding may place different restrictions in terms of duration and maximum interruption periods permitted during the course of your study. See section below "Before Applying - Funding" for further information.
When is an interruption not appropriate?
Interruptions are not appropriate where the student is able to work on the thesis but is not progressing at the expected rate where the reasons are foreseeable or to allow a student to undertake long-term periods of paid employment. In addition, interruptions are not available to permit students to take extended annual/holiday leave or to effectively extend the period available to the student to complete their thesis. In some circumstances an Extension to the Maximum End Date may be awarded.
Interruption to Study Form
Before applying , it is important to check whether there are any implications of interrupting your studies.
If you receive funding for your studies, it is really important that you check the rules of your funding body before submitting the interruption of studies request form. This is because the following could be affected:
- The length of time permitted - some funders have tighter restrictions about the total length of time that will be permitted than the University has.
- The reasons permitted for granting an interruption
- Whether stipend payments will stop. In some circumstances, there might be a requirement to pause the stipend payments during the interruption. This is the case for interruptions to undertake paid internships.
If you receive funding administered by the School of Informatics, please contact the Graduate School Office at firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance.
If you receive external funding you should read the Terms and Conditions of the relevant training grant. If you are unsure what is permitted under the conditions of your individual funding, please contact your programme administrator e.g. IGS for non-CDT students, and CDT Administrators for CDT students. If you are in receipt of funding that is not managed by the University (e.g. external scholarships) then it is your responsibility to ensure you are conforming with your individual terms and conditions of your scholarship. You will be asked to confirm that you have done this when completing the request form.
If you are applying for an interruption, please be aware that if we need to pause your funding, we would need a minimum of 4 weeks notice prior to your interruption starting, to ensure we can process your interruption and make sure your funding is paused on time. If we do not receive the required notice period then you will likely receive a stipend payment while you are on interruption, as stipends are paid in advance. If your interruption was to start, for example, on 1 September 2020, you would require your 28 August 2020 payment to be paused, and the deadline for finance paperwork would be 1 August 2020 in that case.
If you are a full-time student and you interrupt your studies, your Council Tax exemption may be affected. Please check this with Student Administration.
A student's PhD funding source will be stated on their EUCLID offer letter, which was issued at the time the offer of admission was made. If unsure of your funding source(s), CDT students should contact their CDT Coordinator or Administrator for advices. All other students should contact the IGS admin team at email@example.com
Applying for an interruption of studies
Requests for interuptions should occur only once a discussion between the student and the principal or lead supervisor has taken place and an interuption of studies is deemed appropriate.
Applications may be made by submitting the application form to the Informatics Graduate School Office:
- the form should be completed by the student and approved by their principal or lead supervisor (please note that forms that are sent from a University email address do not require a physical signature, just a typed name in the signature box). Please ensure that you either submit a request form which has been signed by your supervisor or send a copy of an email from the supervisor which states that the interruption request is approved by them. Failure to provide the complete information will slow down the process of approving your request.
- the exact start and end dates should be stated on the form.
- a proposed return to study plan should be included
- please submit as soon as possible after the problem has emerged or been discussed as retrospective interruptions cannot be granted.
- the form and supporting documents should be submitted electronically to the Graduate School Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- all applications are subject to the approval of both the Deputy Director of Graduate School and the College Office
- Once the request has been approved, a notification will be sent to confirm and the student's programme details will be amended accordingly in EUCLID; this will then be visible through MyEd.
An application for an AIS should normally be made prospectively i.e. before the period of a programme interruption is to begin. It is recognised, however, that there may be extenuating circumstances where this cannot happen e.g. medical emergencies. In these cases, programme AIS should be requested as soon as possible and when appropriate to do so. Approval of retrospective programme interruptions, however, are not guaranteed.
The request for a AIS should be made in sufficient time that, when appropriate, monthly stipend payments can be stopped for the relevant period. Stipend payments are made in advance (not arrears) so if the IGS receive insufficient notice and cannot stop payments in time, students will be required to return the overpayment. Payments will recommence when students return to active study.
Please be aware that as well as your end date being pushed back in line with any AIS, this is also the case with any upcoming annual review due date. If the annual review is already open when the interruption is approved this will not happen automatcally so please inform IGS to amend this.
Where a programme AIS is being requested and the period of AIS will be unpaid (e.g. stipend payments will stop due to being on internship or a student wishes to take an unpaid AIS due to illness), then it is up to the student to decide if they wish to provide any supporting evidence at the point of submitting their AIS request. In the College of Science and Engineering, it is the PGR Board of Examiners (chaired by the Dean of PGR Studies) who will determine whether or not an AIS will be granted. If the committee decides they need to see appropriate supporting evidence to support approval of the request, then they will inform the IGS and student accordingly.
Where a programme AIS is being requested and stipend payments are expected to continue under the UKRI terms and conditions of sickness absence, then the UKRI expects Research Organisations to satisfy themselves that there is sufficient evidence to support a period of paid medical absence. The AIS request, therefore, should normally be supported by appropriate medical evidence e.g. a fit note from a GP, or a supporting letter issued by an appropriate medical professional (e.g. Consultant, registered psychologist), which states the start and end dates that a student has been assessed to be medically unfit to study.
Students studing on a student visa, who receive an interruption of more than 60 days duration (applies also to successive periods of interruption adding up to more than 60 days), are required by UKVI regulations to leave the country. If you are on a student visa then you must seek advice from the Student Immigration Service about any impact that an interruption of studies might have on your visa. You will be asked to confirm that you have done so when completing the form.
Absence pay entitlements
All UKRI-funded CDT students, including incorporated students (i.e. those on a CDT programme but not funded by non-UKRI sources) and Informatics PhD students who are funded by an EPSRC DTA, iCASE or CASE scholarship are entitled to periods of paid period of programme interruption e.g. medical absence, maternity, paternity and adoption leave.
Students are advised to refer to the UKRI/EPSRC Terms and Conditions of the training grant for detailed information on each of these absence entitlements.
Please refer to the IGS webpage for more detailed information on PGR sick pay entitlements and request process: https://web.inf.ed.ac.uk/infweb/student-services/igs/phd/pgr-sick-pay-entitlements
All Postgraduate Research students should make sure they have appropriate travel insurance in place before going on a trip. Please note that travel insurance provided by the University will not cover you for personal travel. For more information and where to apply please click here: Travel Insurance