If you are enrolled in an award course and need time away from your studies, you have the option to apply for a leave of absence (LOA) if you want to keep your place in the course.

Leave of absence is for higher education students only.

Taking leave

A leave of absence (LOA), for students enrolled in an award course, is usually granted for a maximum of 12 months, based on assessment of your circumstance and the study sequence of your course units.

LOA can be taken for a number of reasons, for example:

  • if there are no units available for you to select in a current study period, or
  • you need to take time off to reprioritise your current life circumstances.

If you need more time away, you will need to consult with your college.

Other than in exceptional circumstances, LOA can only be granted prior to census date. Applications that are submitted after census date, which don't meet the exceptional circumstances criteria, will be subject to academic and financial penalties.

Before your LOA has expired, you will be contacted by the University with instructions on how and when to re-enrol. Therefore it is important that your contact details are up to date on MyVU. If you do not enrol by the deadline you may lose your place in the course and may incur a late enrolment fee.

Should you decide not to return to study after your LOA, or go on an unauthorised LOA, your enrolment will lapse. This means that should you wish to continue your course at a later stage, you will need to re-apply and be subject to course entry requirements at the point of application.

Health & Biomedicine and Engineering & Science students

You are encouraged to discuss any planned leave with your Course & Unit Advisor to ensure that you follow the correct study sequence for your course.

Domestic student leave

Higher education students

Apply online to take a leave of absence via MyVU.

If you experience any difficulties applying, please contact us by phone, chat, or in person at VUHQ.

Research students

Complete the  leave of absence application form and submit to the Graduate Research Centre via gradresearch@vu.edu.au.

International student leave

International students on a student visa must complete their course within the expected course duration as specified on their Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) and are subject to student-specific visa conditions and ESOS requirements.

For any short term leave of absence of up to 10 days, the student needs to consult their college prior to leaving. The college will evaluate if the leave will have an impact on the study progress or group work for that study period. No application is required for a short-term LOA of up to 10 days.

LOA for a whole study period or a year will impact the course duration and can have implications on the student visa. For this reason, LOA can only be granted on compassionate or compelling grounds that are beyond the student’s control.

Compassionate or compelling circumstances are situations that are beyond a student's control, affecting their wellbeing and course progress in the current study period.

All claims must be evidenced with accompanying relevant official documentation.

If the document is in a language other than English, it must be translated into English by an accredited Translator or Interpreter, or an overseas notary department with a common seal.

Acceptable reasons and evidence may include, but are not limited to:

  • serious illness or injury (Evidence: Detailed medical certificate outlining severity of illness)
  • death of a close family member (parent, sibling, spouse, or child) (Evidence: Death certificate)  
  • involvement in a traumatic experience (e.g being a victim of, or witnessing, a serious crime or critical incident) (Evidence: Police report)
  • political upheaval or natural disaster in home country requiring emergency travel (Evidence: Notification from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Airline Ticket)
  • unavailability of pre-requisite units due to unusual course structure or provider default (Evidence: College email confirming unusual course structure or provider default)
  • military service in home country (Evidence: Official notice from the Home Government department managing conscription)
  • an academic progress decision resulting in an intervention strategy (Evidence: Academic Action plan and recommendation from the Student Advisor).

The supporting documentation for compassionate or compelling circumstances must be from an independent authority or source, and clearly indicate:

  • what the compassionate/compelling circumstances were, and
  • when they occurred, and
  • how long they lasted (or are expected to), and
  • the level of impact the circumstances have had (or are likely to have) on your studies.

Invalid reasons for an LOA application may include, but are not limited to:

  • timetable clashes
  • financial hardship
  • retrospective LOA due to neglecting to enrol by the published deadlines
  • dislike of the available unit(s) on offer, including major electives
  • employment reasons
  • failure of non-requisite units
  • dislike of students or study group you are working with (group work)
  • missing classes or not submitting assignments on time (for non-compassionate or compelling reasons)
  • unavailability of elective units (you are expected to enrol in available elective units that form part of your study plan).

Please be aware that taking a leave of absence can affect your visa.

Before requesting leave, you are encouraged to discuss your options with one of our International Student Support advisors.

To apply for a leave of absence (LOA):

  • complete the  leave of absence application form, including all signatures and college recommendation, and
  • write and sign a personal statement outlining your reason for wanting to take a LOA, and
  • provide certified or original copies of any relevant supporting documents.

Submit your completed application form along with supporting documentation for assessment to the Enrolments team either by email via AskVU or in person at VUHQ.

Scanner facilities are available in all VU libraries if required.

Until your application has been assessed and approved, you must:

  • remain enrolled for the relevant study period, and
  • pay your fees by the payment due date, and
  • attend all classes, and
  • participate in any class/external group work, and
  • submit all assignments, and
  • complete all online quizzes, tests and exams.

Submitted applications are assessed against Enrolments Policy/Procedure and ESOS guidelines. You should receive an outcome letter within 5 working days, informing you of our decision.

If your application has been approved, the LOA is entered against the enrolment record and approval reported via PRISMS to the Department of Education and Training and the Department of Home Affairs

If your application has been denied but you still wish to take the LOA, you can submit an application for an internal appeal and attach any new evidence to substantiate your claim.

If the appeal decision is not overturning the previous decision, you have the opportunity to apply for an external appeal within 20 days.

Unauthorised LOA is not permitted. If you are taking a LOA for other than compassionate or compelling reasons, or if you fail to supply the relevant evidence, or withdraw from the course, your CoE will be cancelled which may result in your student visa being cancelled.

You will be then required to leave Australia within 28 days of the start date of your leave or make other visa arrangements with the Department of Home Affairs.

Before you return to Australia to resume your studies, you must obtain a new CoE by re-applying for the course, and, if your visa has been cancelled, you will need to apply for a new student visa. You can check your visa status online via VEVO.

For advice, please contact the Department of Home Affairs by phoning 131 881.

Check the International Student Refund policy to see if you are eligible for a refund of your tuition fees if you take a LOA.

Returning to study after a period of leave

Before your LOA expires, you will receive a letter and/or email advising you of re-enrolment and deadlines.

After the LOA has expired, you are expected to return to study and commence in the next mandatory study period.

If you don’t wish to continue with your studies, you must officially withdraw from your course.

It is important to note that if you do not enrol in compulsory study periods, or do not return from an agreed study break, the university can cancel your enrolment and CoE on grounds of inactivity. This means that, by not re-enrolling when you are required to do so, you do not want to study with us anymore. If you are cancelled for inactivity, you cannot appeal the decision.