Authorised absence for international students

The University has an obligation under its Tier 4 Sponsor Licence to monitor and keep records of academic attendance of international students.

A Tier 4 (General) student visa is issued for the purpose of full-time study at the University of Birmingham. The University recognises that there are times when you need to be absent from the University either due to unforeseen circumstances (such as a bereavement or illness of an immediate family member) or to undertake a period of study in or outside the UK, not based at the University of Birmingham (e.g. fieldwork or to work on your thesis or dissertation).

In instances where you need to take a short break from your studies, the University may approve a period of authorised absence for a maximum period of 8 weeks without the withdrawal of immigration sponsorship. In some circumstances a leave of absence may be more appropriate. Please see the Code of Practice on Leave of Absence Procedures for more information.

Where you are continuing to engage with your programme of study during the period of authorised absence, the University may approve a period of authorised absence longer than 8 weeks, without the withdrawal of immigration sponsorship.  In these circumstances, the University must fulfil its Sponsor Licence obligations and continue to monitor your academic engagement and progress with your fieldwork, thesis or dissertation. Acceptable methods of contact during this period include email and Skype.

 Valid reasons for an authorised absence

to travel home unexpectedly, for example having had a close personal bereavement;

to leave the UK to carry out fieldwork;

to attend a conference;

to complete your dissertation/thesis outside the UK;

to take a holiday - postgraduate researchers only

Please note: For some absence reasons, we require evidence to be provided (see guidance notes for details). Evidence that is not in English must be translated into English by a certified translator.

 Holiday

Undergraduate students- you are not expected to be absent from teaching sessions during term-time for the purpose of holiday, tourist travel and social occasions (e.g. weddings). You do not need to apply for authorised absence during vacation time if your programme follows the standard University vacation calendar.

Postgraduate Taught students only - you are not expected to be absent from teaching sessions during term-time for the purpose of holiday, tourist travel and social occasions (e.g. weddings). You do not need to apply for authorised absence during the Christmas and Easter vacation periods if your programme follows the standard University vacation calendar.

If you are on a twelve month full-time Masters programme and will be working on your dissertation/research project over the summer you must apply for authorised absence if you require an absence during this time, even if it is during the University summer vacation period. Whilst you will not normally have any teaching sessions scheduled, you are required to be academically engaged on a full time basis. We would therefore not expect absence for the purpose of holiday to be taken during this time.

If you are on a twenty four month full-time Masters programme, you do not need to apply for authorised absence during the summer vacation period between year one and year two. In your second year, if you will be working on your dissertation/research project over the summer you must apply for authorised absence if you wish to take holiday during this time, even if it is during the University summer vacation period.

Postgraduate researchers - supervision is expected to be carried out throughout the whole academic year including July and August. Postgraduate researchers may, with the prior agreement of their Supervisor, take up to 8 weeks holiday in each academic year, including public holidays.

If you are planning to be absence from your studies for the purpose of holiday, you should then submit a request for authorised absence at least 10 University working days in advance of your departure date.

 How to apply

You are required to submit an Authorised Absence Request by completing Step 1 of the online request form whilst providing all mandatory information and evidence. Please read the authorised absence for international students guidance carefully.

Authorised absence for international students online request form 

Authorised absence for international students guidance notes (PDF - 423KB)

 Authorised absence request processing

Step 1: Student Form

You will complete step 1 of the Authorised Absence Request form and provide all mandatory information and evidence to support your request. At the end of step 1, you will provide the name of your authorised signatory and Programme/PGR Administrator and submit your request. The request will then be forwarded to the named authorised signatory for the completion of step 2.

Please note: If you are unsure of the person’s name to enter as your authorised signatory, please contact your Programme/PGR Administrator before submitting your authorised absence request. 

Step 2: Signatory Form

The named authorised signatory will review your request and provide confirmation of any relevant monitoring conditions and approval. At the end of step 2, the authorised signatory will provide the name of their Programme/PGR Administrator and submit the request. The completed request will then be forwarded to the Programme/PGR Administrator.

Step 3: Administrator

The Programme/PGR Administrator will receive the completed online request via email and forward the request to Registry for processing.Please note that once the authorised absence request has been received by Registry, the standard processing time is 10 working days (maximum). Therefore, you should submit a request for authorised absence at least 10 University working days in advance of your departure date. Exceptions to this would be where students need to travel at short notice due to unforeseen events, such as illness or death of an immediate family member.

 Authorisation letters

If your authorised absence is approved and you are to travel outside the UK, the University will provide you with a scanned copy of a letter (which will be emailed to you) for you to carry in your hand luggage when you leave and return to the UK. This can be shown to the Immigration Officer should they ask for proof that you are a student and have permission to travel outside the UK.

 Returning from authorised absence

At the end of your period of authorised absence, you must report in person to your Programme/PGR Administrator to confirm that you have returned by the agreed date.

If you are unable to return by the date provided on your request form, you must notify your Tutor/Programme Director/Supervisor and e-mail staff in Registry at registrypbsqueries@contacts.bham.ac.uk to advise of your new date of return and the reasons why you are unable to return by the original agreed date. Failure to do so may result in the withdrawal of immigration sponsorship.

 Can't find what you're looking for?

If you are unable to find the information that you're searching for on our site, you can submit an Online Enquiry to Student Administration who will be able to answer your questions.