Intermitting from your Studies

For a variety of reasons, students sometimes need to take a break from their studies.  The information below is not exhaustive and is not intended to be so – feel free to drop into the Tutorial Office or contact your Tutor at any point if you would like clarification on anything.

Undergraduates: Application to Disregard Terms

The regulations for Tripos Examinations only allow students to be candidates for examinations providing certain conditions (such as number of terms) have been met.  However, under certain circumstances the Examination Access and Mitigation Committee of the University may give leave for a student to ‘disregard terms for the purpose of standing’ (thereby allowing you to sit the relevant part of the Tripos examination, or graduate).   Disregarding terms is sometimes referred to as intermission and the two terms are often used interchangeably.

An application to disregard terms, if successful, allows a student, to repeat all (or part) of an academic year where practically speaking studying has not been possible. Leave to disregard terms is intended to alleviate a disadvantage and not to confer an advantage.   If you feel you have a case the first thing to do is to discuss the matter with your Tutor.  The College will write on your behalf to the Examination Access and Mitigation Committee to seek permission.  Students may not apply directly. Please note that the precise outcome is not assured and you should discuss the matter fully with your Tutor to ensure that all relevant information can be included.  It is worth noting that, particularly where leave is asked for just before exams, permission is sometimes granted to ‘allow the examination’ or for a candidate to be ‘put in standing’ instead of intermission.  Permission for terms to be disregarded does not change either the number of terms kept or examination results.

Reasons why students may wish to consider applying to disregard terms. 

  • Illness or extenuating circumstances which are having a negative impact on your studies /requiring you to be away from Cambridge.
  • Illness or extenuating circumstances that have interrupted your studies.
  • Severe financial hardship that cannot be resolved.

What is included in an application?

  • Supporting statement from the College Tutor
  • Any comments from the Director of Studies (particularly if the Course is liable to change)
  • Supervision Reports (prepared by the Tutorial office)
  • Contemporary Medical Evidence
  • Any other relevant information

Things to consider:

Will the courses you would like to take still be available? Are there any planned changes?

Are there any financial implications? Students disregarding terms are not students and therefore not exempt from Council tax.   Will your sponsor support an intermission?

If you have a visa please contact International Students Team for further information

If you and your Tutor agree that intermission is the most appropriate course of action, you will need to confirm in writing, (please see attached form) that you would like the College to apply for a period of intermission on your behalf.  Please include a signed Student Declaration form and advise the office on when your medical evidence will be submitted.  No application can be submitted without full supporting evidence.

The Tutorial Office will (where applicable) advise the Accommodation office, reception, Finance and the University card representative that you are no longer in residence and card access will be revoked. Depending on your circumstances, you will have up to two weeks to vacate your accommodation but will not able to use the library, attend lectures, supervisions or events during this period.   Please be aware that no student who is intermitting is able to live in College or attend College events and you should leave Cambridge, unless your family home is here, or you are undergoing ongoing medical treatment in Cambridge.  If this is the case please speak to your Tutor so that this can be noted in your application and permission sought from the Senior Tutor.

If you leave within 21 days of the start of term, you are not liable for the University Composition Fee for that term, or during the period of absence from Cambridge.  After 21 days, you are liable for the fees for that term. You are liable for your accommodation costs but may apply, if you are living in College, to the Bursar for a reduction in rent for the term.

Student loans: your entitlement ceases for the terms of intermission and you must notify the SLC.  Entitlement to University fee loans is limited to the number of terms of the original course plus an additional year.

Once formal approval has been received from the Examination Access and Mitigation Committee

The Senior Tutor will write shortly after the relevant meeting of the  Examination Access and Mitigation Committee advising of any University conditions and any College conditions.  You will be asked to sign a form to confirm that you have understood the conditions and accept them, which you will need to return to the Tutorial Office.

Returning into residence

You may not return to Cambridge and resume study without satisfactory medical evidence that you are fit to do so, or that any earlier problem has been resolved / is under treatment.  Your Doctor (preferably the one you saw originally) will need to write a letter answering the questions noted here. If you have been seen by a specialist following the original period of intermission, the assessment should be by that practitioner.  The College reserves the right to seek a further independent assessment.

The College and the  Examination Access and Mitigation Committee must be fully satisfied that you are now fully recovered, or that the condition is under control with appropriate support measures in place, and that you are in a position to successfully complete the course. The College can request up to two years of intermission as a general rule and it may be appropriate for you to consider a further year.

Returners Group, University Counselling Service

The College strongly encourages all returning students attend the University Counselling Service’s Returners’ Group sessions.

If your reason for intermitting is financial, you will need to provide relevant and unambiguous evidence to show that you are able to meet the financial commitments involved in returning into residence.


Graduates: Application to Intermit

If you are considering intermission, please speak to your Tutor as soon as possible so that any additional information can be included in the College’s statement.  These University pages explain the process fully but we hope the following is of help.

It is normally possible for PhD students to apply to intermit for up to 3 full-time or 5 part-time terms at any one time. If you are studying for a one or two year programme, there may be restrictions to the number of terms you can intermit for.

Intermission should be applied for via your CamSIS Self-service pages, and a medical statement uploaded. If the reason for intermission is financial or because of family problems, relevant evidence must be submitted. Please do speak to your Tutor, who will inform the Tutorial Office, and notify your sponsor and International Students Team (if applicable).

Applications are considered by your Supervisor, College, Department, Faculty Degree Committee and the Student Registry and you will be notified by email from the Student Registry.

While intermitting, you remain on the register of graduate students.  You may therefore continue to use the University Library and certain other facilities. However, students who are intermitting are not expected to carry on studying through the period of intermission and are normally expected to be out of residence.

Returning From Intermission (authorised absence)

Intermission on non-medical grounds means you are expected to return into residence following the agreed period, but should get in touch with the Tutorial office to confirm this is the case.

If intermission is on medical grounds, the Board will have attached a condition of your fitness to study and you are expected to provide relevant documents before this date.   If you have any queries about this procedure please contact the Tutorial Office or Board.

This means that in advance of your return, you will need to complete the required forms and return them to the Student Registry – Secretary of the Board of Graduate Studies for consideration.