Registration, Attendance, Off campus and Change of Status

The University regulates the amount of time that students have to complete their studies according to the type of qualification being sought and whether students are full or part-time. The University recognises, however, that in exceptional circumstances students may need to interrupt their studies and that they may need to apply for extensions etc. All of this is governed by the University's framework of regulations on the registration of research students. 

The University expects that you will make good progress in your research and writing, and lays down a series of goals that need to be achieved in order for you to continue each year. The University also requires that all Colleges have mechanisms to monitor the progress of students on an annual basis, and to make decisions about their future registration as a result. 

Only registered students may have access to the facilities of the University, including supervision. Each student is given a Registration Status that reflects the qualification they are registered for, their ‘mode of attendance’ (full-time, part-time, continuation status) and other circumstances. 

Registration is automatically terminated when the maximum period of study has been reached and no thesis has been submitted for examination. In such circumstances students will not be allowed to submit a thesis and will not be eligible for the award of a degree.

 

Full-time students are expected to work full-time on their research for at least 44 weeks of the year, and part-time students for half that amount of time. You are expected to be present at the campus at which you are based unless you have the agreement of your supervisors or have specific permission from the PGR Support Team to undertake research and writing as an off-campus student. 

The PGR Support Team can require students to attend the University if this is felt to be necessary for research training or supervision purposes. Students who are researching as off-campus students will normally be asked to spend some time in the University, typically at the beginning and end of their research and writing, for meetings with your whole supervision team, upgrade, and/or the PGR Conference. 

International students should note that attendance monitoring is now a statutory requirement of the Points Based visa system and unauthorised absence from 10 compulsory academic activities will be reported to the Home Office and will result in the termination of your student visa.  The University has a duty to inform the authorities if a student is away from campus without agreement. Your attendance will be monitored via MyPGR so it is essential that you keep your supervision records up to date.

Students normally resident near their campus who intend to be absent (for data collection for example) from the University for two or more weeks must inform their supervisor and the PGR Support Team. International students in the UK on a Tier 4 student visa who intend to be absent from the UK for a period of research must inform the University’s International Student Advisors, their supervisor and the PGR Support Team.

 

You are encouraged to maintain an appropriate work/life balance during your studies and periods of study for research therefore make allowance for periods of annual leave. Taking a period of annual leave does not alter the end date of your programme. 

You are expected to actively manage your studies, to take no more than four weeks of leave at a time, and to ensure that any periods of leave do not impact on your studies, or upon maintaining regular contact with your supervisory team. You must therefore discuss, in advance, any absence for periods of leave with your supervisory team. You must also ensure that you comply with any requirements of your funding body with regard to taking leave.  

You are allowed to take up to 8 weeks of annual leave a year, pro-rata for students studying on a part-time basis, inclusive of public holidays and University closure days. 

Please note that if you are intending to be absent from your studies, for any period of up to 4 weeks, for events such as getting married/honeymoon or to visit relatives we expect this to be covered by annual leave, rather than an interruption of studies. 

International students who are Tier 4 visa holders should be aware that if a period of leave is followed or preceded by a period of interruption the International Student Support Office may be required to report your absence from your studies to the Home Office.

Acceptance as an Off-Campus student

Off-campus students will only be admitted if the relevant discipline DPGR is satisfied that the applicant can meet any specific study requirements pertaining to periods of attendance at Exeter, supervision arrangements, skills training, access to appropriate library and IT facilities, and shows a commitment to devote sufficient time to study.

Annual attendance at Exeter

Off-campus students are expected to be present on campus at least once a year for the equivalent of a minimum of one week.

Time commitment for off-campus students

Off-campus applicants will only be admitted if they commit, in writing, to devote over the course of a calendar year to study for 35 hours per week over 44 weeks per annum, in the case of those intending to study on a full-time basis, or to 20 hours per week over 44 weeks per annum for those intending to study on a part-time basis.

University Codes of Practice

All provisions in University Codes of Practice and Statements of Procedures pertaining to research students fully apply.

College of Humanities’ Code of Practice

All provisions in the Code of Practice fully apply for off-campus students except in respect of the following sections of the Code. Although alternative arrangements or requirements may apply in respect of these sections, the principles in these sections of the Code must be adhered to. 

1.1 Students will receive, or be directed to, induction material relevant to off-campus study by email to their Exeter email address.

2.1 If a personal meeting between the student and the supervisor(s) is not possible then the supervisor(s) will contact the student for the initial supervision using one of the communication methods listed (above) in2.3. A supervision agreement and a training needs analysis must be completed.

3.1 If a personal meeting between the student and the mentor is not possible, the mentor will contact the student for an initial discussion using one of the communication methods listed in 2.3.

4 Students shall take, if available, online versions of the University’s Researcher Development Programme sessions, and any discipline-specific research training, as advised by their supervisor. They are required to attend any discipline-specific research seminars that are running whenever they are in attendance the University.

9 Students are expected either to attend and give presentations in accordance with the specified requirements or to give at least two research presentations at equivalent university seminars or, in the case of split-site students admitted to the University through a partner institution, to give two presentations to an academic audience organised by the partner institution and attended by the student’s supervisors. 

In the case of split-site applicants being considered for admission through a partner institution, study and attendance requirements will be specified in the agreement between the College and the partner institution.

There are occasions when students wish to change the status of their registration in order to respond to changes in personal circumstances. The PGR Support team and College Director of Postgraduate study  will consider all requests and facilitate requested changes where appropriate. Information and forms are available from the PGR Support team, or MyPGR as appropriate, and in the University’s Statement of Procedures: Periods of Registration and Changes to Registration Status for Graduate Research Students.

Full-time to part-time (and vice versa)

Requests to change from full- to part-time status (or vice versa) will be considered on their merits by the PGR Support team. In some cases the PGR Support team, or your supervisors, might also recommend a change of status, if we think that it is to your benefit. 

Please note that any request to change mode of attendance will only be considered if the change will result in a change to your maximum period of study, once the relative equivalence has been calculated. Therefore requests to change from full-time to part-time (or vice versa) will not normally be considered after three years of full-time, or six years of part-time study. 

Requests to change your mode of attendance must be discussed with your supervisor(s) and if supported will then be considered by the College Director of Postgraduate Research. 

International students only

Please note that under immigration rules it is a stipulation that international students on a student visa study full-time. A change to part-time study can have a serious impact on your prospects of remaining in the UK or returning to the UK to study at a later date. There are however a few instances where international students on non-student visas are allowed to study part-time but this must be checked and confirmed with an International Student Advisor. It is a requirement of the Immigration Office that only authorised University personnel in the International Student Support Office interview and sign off forms for students who wish to change their mode of attendance, so you must make an appointment with the International Student Support Office to see an International Student Advisor (ISA) for approval. Please note that this rule does not apply to students changing to continuation status.

Continuation Status

Students may be permitted to apply to transfer to continuation status when we are sure that they have completed their research and will not undertake any significant additional research. Such students are considered to be writing up their thesis, and are not charged normal full- or part-time fees. There is however a small administrative fee for students who are registered on continuation status after four months and who have not yet submitted their thesis for examination. 

Continuation status is not an automatic right and an application will only be considered if a student is near to submission of the thesis, has the support of their supervisor, can show that they no longer need full-time supervision and demonstrate that they can submit within six months of transfer to continuation status. We would normally expect you to have submitted a full first draft of your thesis to your supervisor before they will agree to you transferring to continuation status. Students who have transferred to continuation status will be expected to make minimal use of University resources. If a student needs further supervision during the period of continuation status, the PGR Support team will require them to re-register as full- or part-time – and to pay full tuition fees accordingly. There should however continue to be contact between student and supervisor, but this contact will be significantly reduced, with minimum frequency of supervision meetings dropping to three a year (one a term). 

Requests to transfer must be discussed with your supervisor(s) and if supported will then be considered by the College Director of Postgraduate Research who should consider the resource implications of the request. 

You should apply to transfer to continuation status via MyPGR, and email a timeline of work completed and work still to complete to the PGR Support team to support your request.

Interruption

An interruption of your studies means an entire cessation of academic work for a specified period, usually granted when you are suffering from personal or other difficulties which make it impossible for you to continue with your research for that period. Fees are not payable during periods of interruption and the period does not count towards the timeframe for completion of your degree.  During a period of interruption you will not undertake academic study, and will not receive supervision. Your registration will be suspended until you re-register and resume your studies. 

If you do experience any serious difficulties outside of your control that affect your studies, and feel that you would benefit from an interruption please discuss this with your supervisor(s) or Pastoral Tutor, and the Humanities PGR Support Officer before completing a formal request on MyPGR. It is essential that if you think that you may need a period of interruption you talk to your lead supervisor and/or the PGR Support team in a timely manner as interruptions can only be granted retrospectively in very exceptional circumstances. 

Please note that any request to interrupt your studies on medical grounds must be supported by a medical note from your doctor and, when you are ready to return to your studies, you will also need to provide a doctor’s note to confirm that you are fit to return before you will be allowed to re-register. 

The minimum period of interruption is one calendar month, and the maximum total period is two years, with a maximum of one year at any one time. 

Interruption does not imply a termination of registration but is a period of voluntary suspension of study. During any period of interruption you will remain a student of the University and be subject to the normal student regulations, including the completion of Annual Monitoring Review reports. Your individual circumstances will however be taken into account, and necessary processes will be handled in an appropriate way. Student services are not normally accessible during any period of interruption with the exception of the Chaplaincy, Students’ Guild and the Health Centre. 

During an interruption you will normally retain access to Library facilities (including any books that you may have currently on loan) and your IT account will remain active. 

When an interruption request is received in the PGR Support office you will receive an acknowledgment from the team within two working days. We aim to have interruption requests approved as quickly as possible and normally within two working weeks of request. If however there is likely to be any delay to the approval of your request you will be notified by the PGR Support team within one working week of receipt. 

Requests are sent to your lead supervisor for approval in the first instance. For those students in receipt of Research Council funding, the University’s Research Council liaison administrator will also be asked to approve your request and for international students, the International Student Support Office is required to approve all requests. Final approval for an interruption of study is given by the College Director of Postgraduate Research on the recommendation of your supervisor. 

Students who do not re-register after the end of the interruption period will be deemed to have withdrawn and their registration terminated. 

Subsequent requests for re-instatement of registration will be considered as per the regulations.

Specific guidance for funded students

If you are in receipt of a studentship which provides you with a maintenance stipend please note that your maintenance payments will be suspended during periods of interruption. If your maintenance allowance is paid to you for a period of time during which you are not registered on the programme of study we will normally seek reimbursement for any overpayment that has occurred. If you have any concerns about the possibility of being asked to reimburse any overpayment please discuss this as a matter of urgency with the PGR Support Officer in the first instance. If you are considering requesting an interruption you must therefore ensure that you have the means to support yourself during this period. 

You may be able to claim benefits whilst you are interrupted, however this will depend on your individual circumstances. Further information is available from your local Jobcentre Plus or Housing Benefit office. 

If you are a Research Council funded student you should also be aware of the specific Research Council regulations regarding interruptions of study. Research Council rules will take precedence over University regulations so it is essential you read the relevant funding guide and talk to the PGR Support Officer for advice before requesting an interruption. 

For AHRC funded students please see the Training Grant Funding Guide 2015-16 (under Suspensions). 

For ESRC funded students please see the ESRC Postgraduate Funding Guide (under Suspensions).

Specific guidance for international students

Interruption or withdrawal is always a difficult choice, but for international students who hold a Tier 4 visa it can also have serious immigration implications of which students are often unaware. The immigration rules are strict, and very rarely make allowances for extenuating circumstances. It is therefore vital that you are aware of the ramifications of any decision to interrupt before it is finalised, and understand what actions you must take after your interruption to ensure that you are allowed to study in the UK in the future.  

When an international student holding a Tier 4 visa takes an interruption of study, the University is required to withdraw its immigration sponsorship and report this to the Home Office. As a result the student’s visa will be curtailed and they will be required to leave the UK. When it is time to return to studies the University will issue a CAS and the student can apply for a new visa. 

The Home Office does however allow institutions to grant Tier 4 students periods of ‘authorised absence’, where immigration sponsorship is continued with during a period of absence from study. 

You should be aware that you can take a period of authorised interruption of up to 60 days and remain in the UK, if you can show good cause, such as ill health or personal difficulties. 

Tier 4 students can interrupt for a total of four months during a programme of study without the University withdrawing its immigration sponsorship. No individual period of interruption however can be longer than two months (60 days).

Where there are particularly strong mitigating factors the University can grant a period of authorised interruption of more than 60 days. This will however only be in cases where there is clear proof that a student cannot return to their home country, normally due to severe ill health, and this must be approved by the Immigration Compliance Officer or Manager, and the Head of Student Support and an appropriate representative from the College.

In all cases requests for interruption by international students must be approved by the International Student Support Office who will advise the student and the College on whether or not their request will be treated as an authorised absence.

Withdrawal

You are permitted to withdraw from your programme of study at any time and for any reason, but any fees or fines that you have outstanding must still be paid. Once you withdraw from a programme, your registration is terminated, and you cease to be a student of the University.  To request withdrawal you will need to complete and submit a withdrawal form, available from the PGR Support team. 

Should you wish to return to your studies at a later date, you can apply to be re-registered, subject to the approval of the Associate Dean for Research and Knowledge Transfer, so withdrawal does not necessarily mean that you must give up your studies forever. To apply for re-registration you will have to produce a suitable work plan and timetable to submission.

Extension of period of study

Extensions to the maximum period of study are only granted in exceptional circumstances and must be approved by the College Director of PGR or the College Associate Dean for Research. Such extensions are, however, very rare. If you think that you may not make your deadline, you should discuss the implications of this with your supervisor at the earliest opportunity. 

If you wish to apply for an extension you may do so by completing an extension form, available from the PGR Support team. You must also submit an outline of work completed to date (including word counts) and a work-plan and schedule for completion of the remainder of your thesis. Please note that requests will not normally be considered earlier than 3 months before your completion deadline. If your request is approved you will receive confirmation of the new submission deadline for your thesis/dissertation from the PGR Support team.