Temporary withdrawal (TWD)
Where a student encounters problems that are affecting their progress, it may be appropriate for them to withdraw on a temporary basis from their course of study. A period of TWD ‘freezes’ a student’s registration, so that the time spent away from their studies will not be lost.
Students need to apply for this suspension of their registration using the TWD request form, available on the Graduate School website. Reasons for taking TWD can include medical, personal/family related, or financial, amongst others.
The supervisor’s role
Whilst it is the Director of Graduate Studies who signs the TWD form to indicate departmental support for a student’s request, the supervisor is the likely first port of call for a student who is encountering problems and looking for advice on how to proceed. The availability of TWD should be brought to a supervisee’s attention at the earliest possible opportunity, once it becomes apparent that their progress is being affected by personal issues. Requests for retrospective temporary withdrawal will only be considered in exceptional circumstances, therefore students should be encouraged to apply when a problem arises, rather than wait to see if it resolves itself.
Careful consideration needs to be given to TWD for international students sponsored under a Tier 4 visa. This change to their student status means that the University has to cease sponsorship and the student’s right to remain in the UK will be affected. Such students should be referred to an International Student Adviser at the earliest opportunity. The University has strict obligations to report changes to Tier 4 students’ status in a timely manner; it is therefore not possible to authorise a retrospective TWD beyond a period of one month. This period should provide sufficient time for a problem to be identified and the decision that TWD is the most appropriate course of action to be taken. Delays in reaching this conclusion will disadvantage the student, who may not be able to recoup all of the time they have lost.
Further guidance on the policy relating to TWD for PGR students is available on the Graduate School website here.
An Authorised Absence allows a Tier 4 student to take a short period of time away from their studies without having to take a period of TWD. This removes the need to make a report to the UKBA. Students will not have the lost time added to their registration period, and so this option is only appropriate where there is a very good reason not to take TWD, and will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. Advice should be sought from an International Student Adviser before a request for authorised absence is directed to the Graduate School.
Permanent withdrawal (PWD)
Students wishing to withdraw permanently from their course of study need to complete the PWD form, available on the Graduate School website. This needs to be signed off by the Head of Department or Director of Graduate Studies, but supervisors should also discuss this course of action with their supervisees in order to ensure they have fully considered their options. For example, it may be that a period of TWD would be more appropriate but the student may not be aware of this option. A student may benefit from referral to other support services within the University before they make the decision to withdraw permanently from their course of study.