Policy Leave of Absence from Study Policy

Leave of Absence from Study Policy


This policy specifies:

  • how and under what circumstances a student may take approved leave from a course of study,

  • the consequences of discontinuing a course of study without formally applying for leave, and

  • transitional arrangements for coursework students not enrolled in 2007.


This policy applies to all students except:

  • those admitted to courses of less than six months duration, and

  • study abroad, cross-institutional and miscellaneous students.


Definition of terms for this policy are as per those listed in the Policy Glossary found in the JCU Policy Library.

Policy and Procedures

1. Approved Leave

1.1 Students who wish to take an extended period of leave from their study must apply for ‘Leave of Absence’ (LOA).  For research students, this is also known as ‘Suspension of Candidature’.

1.2 Students must apply for Leave of Absence where their planned leave is in excess of one teaching period or trimester for undergraduate or postgraduate coursework students, or in excess of one month for research students.

1.3 Effect of Leave of Absence

a. Leave of Absence guarantees a student a returning place in the course for which leave has been granted.  Any enrolled subjects that overlap the period for which leave has been granted are withdrawn.  Students retain access to email, StudentsOnline and eStudent for the duration of the leave, but entitlement to some services will be suspended.  Further details may be found in the Student Information Access Policy.

b. For research students, any enrolled coursework subjects that overlap the period for which leave has been granted, are withdrawn.  The enrolled thesis subject remains enrolled with a status of ‘leave of absence’.  Consumption of a research student’s load ceases during leave and the ‘maximum allowed time’ for completion of the course is extended accordingly.

1.4 International students

a. International students studying in Australia on student visas are not normally eligible for Leave of Absence, other than in compassionate or compelling circumstances.  In these instances, students should contact the International Student Centre in Townsville or Cairns, or the administration centre at other campuses, regarding any requirement for Leave of Absence.

International students studying in Australia must obtain approval from the International Student Centre for any period of absence greater than one week’s duration during the study period of enrolment.

The International Student Centre has an obligation in certain circumstances to advise the Department of Immigration and Citizenship where an international student studying in Australia takes Leave of Absence.

b. International students studying outside Australia are eligible to apply for Leave of Absence and are covered by the provisions of this policy.

1.5 Application for Leave of Absence must be made using the appropriate application form.  Students will be advised in writing whether or not an application for leave has been approved.

1.6 Leave of Absence must be granted for a period of time in the future. In exceptional circumstances, leave that has a start date in the past and continues into the future may be granted. Under no circumstances will leave be granted that is entirely in the past.

1.7 The maximum period of approved leave is determined by the award rules for each course. For research students, the maximum leave allowed is usually twelve months in total, other than in exceptional circumstances.

1.8 The minimum period of approved leave is:

a. One teaching period or trimester for an undergraduate or postgraduate coursework student; or

b. One month for a research student.  (Research students are entitled to take up to 4 weeks recreation leave per year, without approval.)

1.9 Eligibility for Leave of Absence

a. Coursework students are eligible to apply for leave of absence once they have been enrolled in at least one subject until the census date for that subject has passed.  Students are eligible to take leave of absence from the day after the results for any previously enrolled subjects are released.

b. Research students should not normally apply to suspend their candidature before completing the confirmation of candidature process.

1.10 Approval for Leave of Absence is granted by:

a. the Manager, Academic Administration and Enrolment for undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students, or

b. the Dean, Graduate Research, under the advice of the College Dean, for research students.

1.11 Return from Leave of Absence

a. Upon the return date of the approved period of leave, the student is able to enrol in subjects.

b. For research students, enrolment in the thesis subject will be re-activated at the same study rate (part-time or full-time) as before the commencement of leave.  A student wishing to recommence at a different rate must apply to do so in writing.

c. Access to services withdrawn (refer to clause 1.3) is restored upon return from Leave of Absence.  Further details may be found in the Student Information Access Policy.

d. A student may apply to return from Leave of Absence early.

1.12 Extension of Leave of Absence

A student may apply in writing to have a leave of absence extended up to the maximum time permitted under the relevant award rules.

1.13 Change of course.

Students who wish to change course after a Leave of Absence need to apply to change course in the usual way.  Leave of Absence does not guarantee a place in any course other than the course for which the leave is granted.

2. Absent Without Leave (AWOL)

Undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students who are not enrolled in subjects for a period of twelve months, or have not had any status changes to subjects already on their study plans (eg a change of result or a  late result recorded) for twelve months, and who have not been granted Leave of Absence, will be declared ‘Absent Without Leave’ (AWOL).

2.1 Effect of AWOL status

a. A student who is AWOL is not guaranteed a returning place in his/her course.

b. A student who is AWOL remains admitted but all email, eStudent and internet access is suspended.

2.2 Return from AWOL

a. A student who is AWOL may apply to continue enrolment in his/her course, by submitting the appropriate application form.

3. Transitional Arrangements for Coursework Students Not Enrolled in 2007

The requirement for coursework students to apply for Leave of Absence will be introduced from 21 October 2007, and will not apply retrospectively.

Coursework students who were not enrolled in 2007, but who were enrolled for some period in the two years prior to 21 October 2007, and who wish to resume their studies, should contact the University for advice regarding enrolment procedures.  Every effort will be made to offer such students a returning place in their most recent course.

Coursework students who have not yet completed their course, and who were not enrolled in any subjects for a period of two to five years prior to 21 October 2007, will be declared AWOL as of 21 October 2007.  Such students who wish to resume their studies are strongly encouraged to apply directly to the University to return to study.  Every effort will be made to offer these students a returning place in their most recent course.

Coursework students who have not been enrolled for a period of five years or more will be required to re-apply through QTAC for entry to the University.

Related documents, legislation or JCU Statutes

Admissions   Policy


NOTE: Printed copies of this policy are uncontrolled, and currency can only be assured at the time of printing.

Approval Details

Policy Sponsor

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Student

Approval Authority

Academic Board

Date for next Major Review (in accordance with the Policy Handbook)


Revision History

Approval date - the date the approval authority approved the establishment, minor or major amendment or disestablishment

Implementation Date - the date the policy was published in the Policy Library and is the date the policy takes effect


Approval date

Implementation date



18-104/10/201804/10/2018Administrative amendment to correct review date and align with organisational structure.Quality, Standards and Policy Officer



Minor amendments to align with Council approved Academic and Student Delegations Register

Associate Director, Enrolment and Client Services




Policy sponsor and approval authority amended to reflect approved policy framework

Quality, Standards and Policy




Roles amended to reflect organisation re-structure

Policy Officer




Formal approval granted by Academic Board on 14/04/2008.

Interim approval granted by Vice Chancellor on 04/02/2008.

<Title of policy author>


Conduct, behaviour, discipline, absence, AWOL