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Can I take a break from my course?

If you’re finding it hard to cope at university, you don’t have to drop out. Read on to find out about taking an intermission.

What is an intermission?

Taking an intermission – or ‘intermitting’ – is when a student is allowed some time off before returning to complete their course. Students take an intermission if they are very ill, or are having severe financial or personal problems, although in some cases you might be allowed to intermit for work experience. During this time you are still enrolled at the university, so will not have to apply for your course again.

Universities don’t have to give you an intermission, so if you think you need time off, you need to discuss it with your tutors to get their permission. It’s important to bring any issues you’re having to their attention, rather than just stopping going to lectures and seminars. You should also talk to student services, as they could be able to find other ways to help.

How long does an intermission last?

This depends on the reasons you need the intermission, but most universities will arrange for you to take a semester or a year off, as this makes it easier to repeat the parts you missed. The maximum you can take off is two years.

How will it affect my student finance?

If you take an intermission on health grounds, you will be entitled to your usual maintenance loan (and grant, if applicable) for up to 60 days. If you need longer than this, you will normally have to apply to the Student Loans Company for additional funding.

Students who take an intermission for other reasons are normally not entitled to any funding during their time off. This means that if you take an intermission halfway through the year and have already had some of your maintenance loan (and grant, if applicable) installments in advance, you are supposed to pay back the amount that would have covered your time away immediately. However, since many students take an intermission because of illness or stress, the Student Loans Company won’t want to add to your worries so you should speak to a student finance adviser who will help you to deal with this. You should not have to pay back any other parts of your loans during your time off.

Your student finance adviser will also be able to provide advice on tuition fees. If you take a full year off you do not have to pay any tuition fees for that year, but if you take an intermission for a semester you may have to pay some or all of your tuition fees for that year depending on when your intermission begins.

You will be eligible for up to one year’s funding when you return to repeat the parts of the course you missed, provided this is your first degree. However, if you are away for two years you will have to fund your tuition fees and living costs for the second year you repeat yourself. Again, your student finance adviser can give you more information about this.

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