You can apply for program leave if you want to:

  • Take a leave of absence from your program of up to 1 year and come back to your studies after taking leave.

If you want to discontinue your studies completely, and not resume them at a later date, please instead see Program Discontinuation.

Please Note:

When you take a break from studying by taking program leave, it's important to plan your enrolment for your expected return date. Some programs have specific requirements about the order in which courses can be taken and not all courses are offered every term. Therefore, it may take you longer to finish your program and to graduate if the courses you need aren't available in the term of your return to study.

For help with your progression planning and enrolment, contact The Nucleus: Student Hub before you take program leave.

Who can take program leave?

Program leave is for enrolled domestic undergraduate or postgraduate students. It is available to International students with certain conditions. See below for further information.

Domestic students

A domestic undergraduate or postgraduate student enrolled in their second or later semester/term of a program may apply for program leave. (A new student enrolled in their first semester/term would apply for a deferment, no later than the relevant census date.)

You can apply for program leave no later than the relevant census date. Program leave sought after census date will be subject to UNSW's rules for course withdrawal and may result in failures being listed on your academic record.

Postgrads: If you are on a scholarship (e.g. APA), check that it is deferrable.
Also, check that your chosen supervisor is available during your return semester/term.

International students

International students on student visas can apply for program leave; however, certain conditions may apply.

Important advice for student visa holders

Notification of program leave/cancellation

Under Commonwealth Legislation, the University is required to notify the Australian Government Office of changes in the enrolment of student visa holders. Cancellation and leave of absence (program leave) will in most cases lead to the cancellation of your student visa, and you will be required to depart Australia, or transfer to another visa type. Provided that you report to the Australian Government Office as required, your visa cancellation should be 'without prejudice', and should not prevent you from reapplying in the future. 

Granting of program leave to student visa holders

As required by Commonwealth Law, student visa holders will be granted Leave by UNSW, conditional on complying with immigration requirements. In all but exceptional circumstances (e.g. Serious personal/health problems requiring you to remain in Australia), student visa holders granted leave will be required to depart Australia for the duration of their leave. If you believe your circumstances are exceptional, please provide documentation to support this claim. In all cases, student visa holders granted leave by the University must report to Immigration authorities to clarify their visa status. 

Reapplying for your student visa

You may find it easier to apply for a new student visa before leaving Australia. Whether you choose to apply in Australia or overseas, you need to fill in a New Confirmation of Enrolment Request.

How long can I take program leave for?

Program leave is generally restricted to no more than 1 year of your enrolment in a program. Applications for leave of more than 1 year will be approved only in exceptional circumstances, at the discretion of the Program Authority.

How to apply

Please complete the following online form:

Apply for Program Leave

Once your request has been processed, you'll be notified of the outcome by email to your UNSW email account. You'll also be able to view and print your approved leave letter online.

Are you under 18 years of age?

If you are under 18 years of age, you must complete this form (PDF, 189kb) and your parent or guardian must also sign the form. The form should be returned to Student Lifecycle, The Nucleus: Student Hub, Level 2 Library or submitted via email to [email protected]

Can I apply for program leave after the census date has passed?

If you are enrolled in the current term:

  • If you are still enrolled in a term after the census date and you no longer want to continue studying, then you do not need to apply for program leave for the term. You can drop courses via myUNSW up until the end of the teaching period, but depending on when you drop there are implications for your enrolment status, academic record and/or fee or contribution liability. You can view the impacts here: 
  • Because you are still enrolled after the census date, you retain an enrolment record for the term and therefore program leave is not required to hold your place in the program.

If you are not enrolled in the current term:

  • If you are not enrolled in a term after the census date then you must apply for program leave to hold your place in the program. See How to Apply above for further instructions. 

How can I cancel a program leave request?

If you have applied for program leave and decided to return early, you can submit a request to cancel your program leave below. 

You will need to include the term you wish to return to studies in your request (e.g. Term 2 2024).

Cancel program leave request

Re-admission and cross-institutional study

Program leave and re-admission

  • If you aren't enrolled at the relevant census date, and you haven't applied for and been granted approved program leave for that semester/term, you will be discontinued from your program. You'll have to formally apply for re-admission if you want to enrol in a future semester/term.
  • If you withdraw from courses with or without failure after the census date, you retain an enrolment record for that semester/term and are subject to the rules of re-enrolment.
  • If your application for leave is rejected, or you don't resume study at the end of the approved leave period, you must formally apply for re-admission to the program.

Cross-institutional study

If you want to undertake study at another institution while you're on program leave from UNSW, you must obtain permission from your Program Authority before you commence your studies at the other institution.

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