Taking leave

Leave of absence is a period of non-enrolment that may be granted for reasons such as sickness, family or carer responsibilities, which temporarily hinder your studies. When leave is approved, your expected thesis submission date and progress review due dates will be adjusted. You should check the terms and conditions of your scholarship and/or student visa for information on leave of absence restrictions, if relevant.

Please note: If you are travelling for research related activities you should apply for Study Away rather than take leave.


How much leave can I take?

Only in compelling or compassionate circumstances may leave additional to the allocations mentioned in the table below be approved.

Minimum period

2 weeks

Except in the case of a partner leave application of five days; see additional entitlements.

Maximum period

12 months

Consecutive leave applications can total more than 12 months.

Accumulated maximum

12 months

24 months

Applies to you if you commenced your degree or were confirmed after 1 January 2017.

Applies to you if commenced your degree or are confirmed before 1 January 2017.

Additional entitlements

Both parental leave and recreational leave are considered to be separate entitlements and will not diminish your entitlement to other leave. Recreation leave is negotiated with your supervisor, but not recorded on your student record.

Parental leave (maternity, adoption leave and partner leave)

12 months for primary carer

8 weeks for partner of primary carer

Parental leave is available to you if:

  1. You're pregnant (maternity leave).
  2. You're a primary carer of your newborn child or a newly adopted child under sixteen years of age.
  3. You're the partner of the primary carer of a new born or adopted child (partner leave).

You must submit a parental leave application with a doctor's or adoption certificate.

Recreation leave

4 weeks per calendar year (pro-rata)

Recreation leave is not recorded on your student record and will not alter your expected thesis submission date. You are not required to submit an application for recreation leave via my.unimelb, instead it is by arrangement with your supervisors and graduate school.


For more information, view the Graduate Research Training Policy.


How do I get my leave approved?

Leave of absence approvals are at the discretion of your graduate school. Sometimes a leave of absence application may not be considered the most appropriate variation of your candidature. You should discuss any planned leave of absence with your supervisors.

You are unlikely to be approved for a leave of absence if you are:

In the first half of probationary candidature

Leave of absence will only be approved in exceptional circumstances or for compassionate reasons.

In the last month of candidature

Leave of absence will only be approved in exceptional circumstances. You should apply for a leave of absence while also applying for an extension to candidature.

Applying for retrospective leave

Leave of absence must be applied for in advance, except in unavoidable circumstances. Your retrospective leave application must be submitted within 2 weeks of the date you returned to study and you must provide appropriate documentation (e.g. medical certificate).

Currently enrolled in coursework

You're not able to take leave while enrolled in coursework subjects. If leave is required, you'll be withdrawn from any enrolled coursework subjects. Making changes to your enrolment after the subject census date listed in the Handbook can impact your fee liability and your Academic Record.

What supporting documents do I need?

In order for leave applications to be approved, supporting documentation is required to be submitted with all applications:

  • Backdated applications
  • Maternity leave
  • Sick leave
  • Students who have had a total of more than 12 months LOA previously
  • Students 'at risk' or with a 'formal warning' of unsatisfactory progress
  • Students applying for leave where leave is not normally approved
  • International students on a student visa.

The supporting documentation (such as medical certificates) needs to include relevant dates for the leave application. Documents in languages other than English require a certified translation.

International students on a student visa must also attach the following documents to the application:


Apply for leave

You will need digital copies of your supporting documentation.

Apply for leave


Return from leave

When you return from a leave of absence, you're required to notify the University. This is especially important if you are studying with a scholarship.

Return from leave