3.4 Interruption of studies

A student can apply to interrupt their studies for a documented medical or personal reason. Interruption allows the student to take an authorised break in their studies for one calendar year, commencing from the beginning of a term. To set up an interruption of studies the student needs to get an Interruption of Registration form from the Student Services Centre (SSC), complete it and have the break authorised by both the academic adviser and the departmental tutor. The form should then be returned to SSC by the student. Decisions to authorise are made on the basis of properly supported reasons such as medical or financial problems.

Further years of interrupted study are normally only granted on strong medical/disability related grounds, and require further permission from the Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

Interruptions are not normally granted retrospectively. The interruption is processed from the stt of the term of study when the request is submitted. Unless it is received close to the end of term, in which case it can be processed from the start of the following term.

Sometimes academic advisers and departmental tutors will see students who need to interrupt their studies as they have experienced ongoing difficulties which has meant that they have not benefited from the teaching before their application for interruption. These students can be advised to apply to the Student Progress Panel for repeat teaching; furthermore, granting of the interruption can be made subject to a successful application to repeat additional terms.

Two case studies

One year interruption

A student comes to see the departmental tutor as her mother has passed away suddenly at the end of the Michaelmas Term and she wishes to return home to spend time with her family. She has completed the first term with good class reports and has provided evidence to support her situation. The departmental tutor agrees to authorise an interruption of one year, allowing her to return at the start of the Lent term in the next academic year. The student pays one third of her fees in the current session, and the remainder in the next session when she returns.

One year interruption plus repeat teaching

A student comes to see the departmental tutor at Easter, explaining that he has attended most of his classes but has not been able to keep up because of family pressures. He was expected to look after his siblings when not at LSE studying and had also had to work at weekends to supplement his loan and could not afford to live in LSE Halls of Residence.

A deferral would not be appropriate in this case as there is nothing immediate affecting the student's ability to sit the examinations, and his difficulties relate to a failure to benefit from the teaching over the course of the year.

The departmental tutor (DT), having consulted the academic adviser (AA), agrees to interrupt the student's studies from the end of the Lent Term, allowing him to take a break and work full time for a while to build up some finances for next year. However, it is clear that the student has not benefited fully from the teaching and would therefore need to have repeat teaching to have a reasonable chance of passing his exams in the next year. The DT, therefore, makes the interruption subject to an application to the Student Progress Panel (SPP) to repeat the Michaelmas and Lent terms. The DT also asks the student to see the Dean about whether a halls place could be found for him next year, allowing him to move away from the family environment which had put so much pressure on his studies. The student is also advised to go to the Financial Support Office for advice about accessing support from LSE funds, and to make an appointment with the Students' Union Advice & Support Service for assistance in applying for full-time repeat funding next year.

The student completes the Interruption of Registration and also the Application for Repeat Teaching forms from the Student Services Centre (SSC) and these are processed by the SSC. The student will have to pay again for the repeat teaching, but, as a home student, he could apply to Student Finance England for repeat funding, with the help of the Students' Union Advice & Support Service.

In short, if at all in doubt DTs and AAs should consult with the SSC Advice and Reception Team and the Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

One departmental tutor highlighted the key decision when discussing this matter with students:

'The important thing to find out is what is going to change ... how is it going to be different next time if we do allow an interruption?'