Taking time off from study – international students

You may be able to take time off your course by taking a leave of absence or deferring. To be granted either a leave of absence or deferral, you need to apply and have the application approved.

Wherever possible consideration of a period of leave should be applied for before the Census Date of the study period. If you are unsure whether time off is the best option, or how it will affect completing your studies in future, you can discuss your thoughts with an International Student Adviser.

How taking time off may affect your visa

If you defer or take a leave of absence, it may affect your student visa. Swinburne must let the Department of Immigration and Border Protection know whenever it approves a deferral or leave of absence application. 

You can read more about visas in Applying for your visa and on the Department of Home Affairs.


You may be able to delay the date you start your course for up to one academic year.

If you have started studying but need to take some time off, you may be able to ‘defer’ if you are a new student and you apply before the census date.

If you are in Australia and have already enrolled, you can apply to defer by completing an application to defer course form below and returning it to the Swinburne International Student Counter located Hawthorn Library, LB Building, Level 2Staff there can help you complete your application and, if necessary, arrange for you to meet with an international student adviser for further support

If you are still in your home country and have not enrolled, and you have applied to Swinburne via an agent, you should contact your agent to arrange a deferral.

Leave of absence - studying onshore

Leave of absence is available to international students studying onshore in Australia who have completed at least one semester of study under certain circumstances. You need to have a good reason for applying for a leave of absence. The most common reasons are a serious and long-lasting illness, or an injury that stops you from studying.

Mild illnesses, holidays and work commitments are not considered acceptable reasons to apply for a leave of absence.

If you hold an international student visa, you must remain enrolled and attend classes until you receive confirmation that your leave of absence has been granted.

Failure to remain enrolled in subject/s in each semester or half year, or failure to apply for and be approved for an official Leave of Absence for any semester in which you do not intend to study, may result in cancellation of your course. If this happens, you will need to re-apply for admission into the current version of the course. Please note, if the course structure has changed since your original course admission, some of the units you have completed may not be included in the new course structure.

If you're having trouble attending classes, contact an international student adviser to get help and find out about your options.

As an international student, you can usually take a leave of absence for six months at most. If the reason you are on leave persists for more than six months, you need to speak to an international student adviser.

Apply for a leave of absence for medical reasons

If you're applying for a leave of absence because of a serious illness or injury, you need to provide one or more of these documents, depending on your situation:

  1. Medical Impact Statement ‌ [PDF 225KB]
  2. medical certificate
  3. specialist report, such a psychiatrist's or surgeon’s report
  4. treatment plan
  5. personal statement that explains how the treatment plan will put you back on track to study.

If you’re a sponsored student, you also need to provide an approval letter from your sponsor.

Before we can process your application you need to give us original documents or certified copies. We can only accept documents in English. If one or more of your documents is in another language, you’ll need to submit them with a NAATI-accredited translation.

How to apply for a leave of absence

To apply for a leave of absence you need to submit the online form along with documents that support your reason for applying.

The documents you need to give us depend on your individual case. We recommend that you contact an international student adviser to find out exactly which documents you need to provide.

You must remain enrolled in your course, and must continue to attend classes, until the university approves your leave of absence.

When to apply for a leave of absence

If you are a continuing student, try to submit your application for a leave of absence before the census date, as you’ll be liable for fees and academic penalties after this date. Note: if you are a new student (in your first year and first semester of studies), you should apply for a deferral rather than a leave of absence.

To check the census date for your course, view your current enrolment online in My Enrolment

Checking your application status

An email confirmation will be sent to you when your leave of absence (LOA) has been approved or declined by StudentHQ. Please read the information provided in this email carefully.


Leave of absence - studying offshore*

*Not studying in Australia or holding an international student visa

If you are an international student studying through Open Universities Australia you can apply for a leave of absence online using My Enrolment.

For more information about taking time off, download our help guide My Enrolment: How to apply for a Leave of Absence online [PDF 250KB]