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The University of Southampton
Student ServicesVisa and immigration

Tier 4 attendance and absence

The information on this webpage is about attendance requirements for students who have a Tier 4 visa, including:

  1. When you must attend
  2. How you can show attendance and how the University monitors attendance
  3. What to do if you cannot attend your studies
  4. Leaving the UK before you complete your studies

If you have a Tier 4 visa for a full-time programme of study, you must attend your studies full-time during term dates.

Attendance: study activities, assignments and using University systems
Attendance: study activities, assignments and using University systems

1. When you must attend

Term dates are the time during which you are expected to be in the UK studying and attending your course activities. Term dates include exam periods and the time during which you are expected to be writing your dissertation or thesis.

Vacation dates are different for each level of study. Please read the information for the relevant level of your course in the sections, below.

Undergraduate students

The vacation dates for undergraduate students are the Christmas and Easter vacation dates and University closure dates, as stated on the University key dates webpage plus the summer vacation from the end of the summer term until the beginning of spring term for the next academic year.

Postgraduate taught students

The vacation dates for postgraduate taught students are the Christmas and Easter vacation dates and University closure dates, as stated on the University key dates webpage. At all other times postgraduate taught students must show attendance full time in the UK up to the end of their programme end date as specified on their CAS, including during the summer.

Postgraduate research students

The vacation dates for postgraduate research students are University closure days, as stated on the University key dates webpage. When you are writing up your thesis or when your status is nominal you must continue to show attendance full-time in the UK.

In addition to University closure days and Bank Holidays, postgraduate research students are permitted to take 26 working days of annual leave each academic year (01 August – 31 July). Any annual leave you do not take within the current academic year cannot be used in the next academic year. If you start part-way through an academic year, after 01 August, you will only get a pro-rata (reduced) annual leave entitlement for the first year. For example:

  • If you start on 01 February (six months into the academic year) you will only get 13 days of annual leave up until the 31 July in the same year. You will then receive 26 days of annual leave from 01 August to take within the next academic year. 

To apply for annual leave, you must complete an absence request form which must be authorised by your Faculty Graduate School in advance of the dates you wish to be absent. You can find Tier 4 annual leave request forms on PGR Tracker or on the University's absence request form webpage.

 

2. How you can show attendance and how the University monitors attendance

How you can show attendance

You must show attendance by:

  • Attending all scheduled study activities such as: lectures, exams, meeting with your tutor or supervisor, labs and workshops; and
  • Submitting all assessed work; and
  • Using the University electronic systems which are monitored for attendance.

How the University monitors attendance

The University of Southampton uses an electronic attendance monitoring system, which enables you to show attendance easily when you study online or on-campus. The electronic systems used to monitor attendance are:

  • Blackboard
  • Door entry points across the University e.g. Library. Swipe your student ID card.
  • E-Assignment
  • EDUroam wireless system
  • PGR Tracker (postgraduate research students only)
  • Remote study link during data collection/fieldwork/placement
  • University desktop computers (except ECS, NOCS and WSA)
  • University network printers. Swipe your student ID card

Please note: no data can be seen apart from a record that you have accessed the system.

If you do not use any of the electronic systems listed here, during term dates, you will receive electronic attendance reminder emails from the Visa and Immigration Student Advice Service (VISAS). If you are not actively studying and your absence from studies is not authorised, the University cannot continue to sponsor your Tier 4 visa.

If there is a reason why you cannot attend your studies during term dates, you can find more information about what to do in the next section: What to do if you cannot attend your studies.

3. What to do if you cannot attend your studies

If you need to leave the UK or will not be actively studying during term dates you have a few options:

  • Apply for an authorised absence.
  • Suspend your studies and return to complete them later.
  • Withdraw from your studies.

If you are considering leaving the UK to complete your thesis or dissertation, you can find more information in the next section: Leaving the UK before you complete your studies.

Apply for an authorised absence

You can apply for an authorised absence to take a short time away from your studies or leave the UK for a short time for any of the following reasons:

  • Remote study
  • Compassionate/medical leave

Your authorised absence must be approved before you take time away from your studies. You can find forms for either of these reasons on the University’s Tier 4 authorised absence request form webpage: 

Tier 4 absence request forms

 

Remote study

This type of authorised absence is available for postgraduate students only. Remote study may include: data collection, field work, attending a conference or other research which is necessary to your current programme of study. Leaving the UK to write up your dissertation/thesis is not considered remote study. You can find more information about leaving the UK before you complete your studies in the next section. 

To be able to approve your absence, your supervisor must confirm:

  • This period of remote study is essential to the student’s course.
  • The work the student is doing must necessarily be done outside of the UK, and could not be completed on-site at the University of Southampton.
  • The amount of the time the student has requested is proportionate to the work they are undertaking.
  • This student will remain in regular contact with the university (i.e. supervisor or other appropriate member of staff) throughout this period of remote study.

If your supervisor cannot confirm all of the above, they will not be able to approve your absence and you will need to discuss alternative options with them, which may include completing your study activity in the UK or suspending your studies.

Compassionate/medical leave

This type of authorised absence could be for reasons which include a family emergency, a wedding of a close family member or a serious health condition which requires a short absence from studies. Requests for compassionate leave are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

If you are not sure if the reason for your absence will qualify for compassionate leave, you can speak to a visa advisor at our drop-in service or book a visa advice appointment.

In all requests for compassionate leave, your tutor or supervisor must confirm that they:

  • do not consider that this absence will have a detrimental effect on the students’ academic studies

This means that you must still be able to successfully complete your current programme of study before your current Tier 4 visa expires and your absence must not directly result in you having to extending your stay to complete your studies. 

You may be asked to provide evidence to support your request for authorised absence.

If your absence is for a medical leave, you must provide a letter from your doctor at the hospital or medical centre on official headed paper which includes all of the following:

  • the name, address and phone number of the hospital or medical centre
  • details of your medical condition
  • the signature of your doctor
  • the official stamp of the hospital
  • the date the letter was printed

If your evidence is not in English, you must provide a certified translation which contains all of the following:

  • confirmation from the translator/translation company that it is an “accurate translation of the original document”
  • the date of the translation
  • the translator’s full name
  • the translator’s signature
  • the translator or translation company’s credentials (qualification or registration as a translator)
  • the translator or translation company’s contact details

Suspend or withdraw from your studies

You must contact your Faculty Office to find out the process to apply to suspend or withdraw from your studies. 

When you suspend or withdraw, you will no longer be actively studying so the University cannot continue to sponsor your current Tier 4 visa. On the date you are suspended or withdrawn, the University will remove sponsorship of your Tier 4 visa and report your change of circumstances to UK Visas and Immigration. We will email you the same day to explain that: 

  • Unless you submit a new immigration application to remain in the UK, you must leave the UK within 60 days.
  • You cannot work or study in the UK during this 60 day period.
  • The end date printed on your visa is no longer relevant. 
  • You can use your current visa to leave the UK to go home but you cannot then use it to re-enter the UK. 

If you suspend your studies, you will need a new visa to return to your studies. When you know the date you are planning to return, you must prepare to apply for a new visa. Visit our webpage about applying outside the UK for more information.

4. Leaving the UK before you complete your studies

Writing up your dissertation or thesis outside of the UK

If you are considering writing up your dissertation or thesis outside of the UK, you must discuss this with your Faculty Office and supervisor before you leave the UK. If your Faculty and supervisor are able to approve your decision to leave the UK, you must inform the Visa and Immigration Student Advice Service (VISAS) using our online enquiry form. When you inform VISAS that you will complete your dissertation or thesis outside of the UK, the University will remove sponsorship of your Tier 4 visa on the date you plan to leave the UK. 

When the University removes sponsorship of your Tier 4 visa, we will report your change of circumstances to UK Visas and Immigration and we will email you on the same day to explain that:

  • Unless you submit a new immigration application to remain in the UK, you must leave the UK within 60 days.
  • You cannot work or study in the UK during this 60 day period.
  • The end date printed on your visa is no longer relevant.
  • You can use your current visa to leave the UK to go home but you cannot then use it to re-enter the UK.

Repeating externally

The University will remove sponsorship of your Tier 4 visa when we are informed about your decision to repeat externally. 

If you need to return to the UK during the academic year when you are repeating externally to complete any study activities, you will need to apply for a new visa.

If your study activities can be completed within 6 months, you would normally need to apply for a short-term study visa. You can find out if you are eligible for this visa type and how you can apply on the University's short-term study visa webpage

If you need to return to the UK after the academic year when you are repeating externally to continue your programme of study, you must apply for a Tier 4 visa outside the UK. You can find more information on the University's webpage about applying for a Tier 4 visa outside the UK

Useful External Links

Please note: The University of Southampton cannot accept responsibility for the content of external websites.

(UKCISA) - Attendance and Participation

Useful Internal Links

University of Southampton Key DatesTier 4 absence request forms
Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are uncertain about anything or you have a query, then our comprehensive frequently asked questions (FAQs) page may have the answer.

Visa Drop-in and Appointments

Visa Drop-in and Appointments

You can talk to one of our visa advisors by either coming along to one of our visa drop-in sessions, or you can book an appointment for an in-depth discussion.

Enquiry Form

Enquiry Form

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