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The University of Southampton
Student Services

FAQ Attendance and absence

This page features frequently asked questions about attendance and absence at the University of Southampton for students using a Tier 4 visa.

It is important that you carefully read the questions on this page before contacting the University's Visa and Immigration Student Advice Service. However, if your question has not been answered then please contact us through our online enquiry form.

What are the term dates and vacation dates for my course of study?

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. 

Please note: if you are travelling outside the United Kingdom without permission (if you have not applied for an authorised absence or annual leave) during term dates when you are supposed to be studying OR if you are travelling after the end date of your course as shown on your CAS then you may have problems returning to the UK. For more information, please read the FAQ: Leaving the United Kingdom

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 up to the end of their programme end date as specified on their CAS.

Postgraduate research students

The vacation dates for postgraduate research students are University closure days, as stated on the University key dates webpage. In addition to University closure days and Bank Holidays, postgraduate research students are permitted to take a further 26 days annual leave pro rata. This should be agreed in advance with your Faculty Graduate School and an absence request form must be completed.


Is my attendance monitored?

Yes. As a Tier 4 sponsor, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) expects the University to monitor your attendance. Your attendance is monitored electronically and your Faculty may also keep records of your attendance of course activities.

You are expected to show attendance electronically as well as attending your course activities during term dates.

To help you protect your place to study in the UK, the University has developed an electronic attendance monitoring system called SUMMs; this system has the full support of the University as well as the Students' Union. The system uses a number of existing data sources to put together a report which shows your attendance on campus. 

It is really important that you attend your timetabled classes and that you regularly access as many of the electronic systems listed as possible to avoid problems with your Tier 4 visa. If you do receive any emails regarding your attendance then you should log onto the following systems as soon as possible:

• Access to Blackboard

• Access to the EDUroam Wireless system

• Access to any University PC

• Access to any of the door entry points across the University

• PGR Tracker (Just PGR students)

• E-Assignment

Please note: no data is kept apart from recording that you have accessed the above systems.

If you hold a Tier 4 visa, you should know that UKVI requires the University to show that you are attending your studies. If you do not attend your timetabled sessions and do not log into some of these systems then you may be risking your Tier 4 sponsorship and therefore your ability to remain in the UK.

How do I apply for authorised absence or annual leave during term-time?

To apply for an authorised absence or annual leave, please complete an absence request form by following these instructions:

1. Print an absence request form from the University website which best describes the reason for your absence. Valid reasons for absence in term-time include:

annual leave (postgraduate research students only)

remote study (postgraduate students only)

compassionate leave

2. Complete sections 1 and 2 of the absence request form.

The ‘date from’ and ‘date to’ should be the full dates you will be outside of the UK.

The reason for absence should be explained in detail, for example, if you are requesting absence to attend a conference please write the name of the conference or provide a URL to the conference website.

3. Scan and send the form to your tutor.

Your tutor will decide if your absence is necessary, proportionate in length and will not affect your ability to complete your studies within your current visa. If your tutor agrees to your absence, they will sign section 3.

4. Send the signed form to your Faculty Office.

Your Faculty will send the form to the University VISAS Team.

5. The VISAS Team will contact you if we need any further information or evidence for your absence.

6. You will receive an email from your Faculty to confirm if your absence has been approved or refused.

If your absence is for an event which has been planned in advance, you should apply for an authorised absence or annual leave at least 2 weeks before the date you plan to leave the UK.

Do I have to apply for an authorised absence during vacation dates?

To find out what the vacation dates are for your course, please read the FAQ: What are the term-dates and vacations dates for my course of study?

If you plan to leave the UK BEFORE the vacation starts or return AFTER the vacation ends, you must apply for an authorised absence. Please be aware, the University can only approve absence during term-time if there is a strong academic or compassionate reason for your absence.

If all of the dates that you plan to be outside the UK are within the University vacation dates for your course, you do not have to apply for an authorised absence.

Can I apply for authorised absence or annual leave to write up my dissertation outside the UK?

No, we cannot approve an absence for you to write up your dissertation outside the UK. You can find more information on the Tier 4 attendance and absence webpage and in the FAQ: Can I leave the United Kingdom to write up my dissertation?

How much annual leave can I take?

Annual leave is only available to postgraduate research students, it cannot be taken by students studying a course at any other level.

The annual leave allowance is 26 days pro rata for each academic year.

Each academic year starts on 01 August and ends on 31 July. Annual leave does not accumulate from year to year. If you do not take the full allowance that you are entitled to within the current academic year, the remaining days are not available for you to take in the next academic year.

Annual leave is pro rata, which means that if you start your course or return from suspension after 01 August your annual leave allowance will be reduced in proportion to the length of that academic year. For example, if you start on 01 February you are entitled to 13 days of annual leave to take before the 31 July in the same year. You will then receive the full allowance of 26 days of annual leave from 01 August to take within the next academic year.

Can I take parental leave if I have a Tier 4 visa?

If you have a Tier 4 visa and you have a question about maternity, paternity, adoption or any kind or parental leave, please book a visa advice appointment as early possible so we can give you information to help you to plan in advance.

Emergency situations

An approved absence should be in place before you travel.  However, if an emergency situation arises, we recognise that you may need to leave the UK immediately without being able to seek prior approval for your absence  (eg critical illness/death of close family relative).

If you have to leave the UK before applying for an authorised absence then please contact your Faculty office as soon as you are able to seek an authorised absence from your study. If the length and/or timing of your absence affects your ability to complete your programme of study within your current visa your absence will not be approved.

Please note that you may be questioned by Border Control as to why you are travelling during term-time.

Useful External Links

UKCISA: Attendance and Participation

Useful Internal Links

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 advisers by coming to a visa drop-in session, or you can book an appointment for an in-depth discussion.

Enquiry Form

Enquiry form

You can contact us through our online enquiry form. We strongly encourage people to contact us through the online enquiry form rather than to directly email us.

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