Research program leave


Higher degree research (HDR) candidates are expected to engage with their HDR program of studies for 48 weeks per year and are enrolled for 48 units within a calendar year (pro-rata for part-time candidates [24 units]).

Candidates may apply for the following types of research program leave where circumstances prevent them from continuing with their research studies:

  • personal leave
  • medical leave
  • parental leave

Please note that medical certificates must be original or certified copies and the dates on the certificates must coincide with the leave request period. International candidates on a Student Visa must check their visa conditions prior to applying for research program leave.

Program leave is considered by the Delegated Authority and also requires approval from the college Associate Dean for periods of leave exceeding 96 units for a full-time candidate (2 years) or 48 units for a part-time candidate (this includes previously approved leave periods).

Adjustment of key dates

  • Minimum leave periods. Research program leave periods must be for a minimum duration of at least one week for full-time candidates or two weeks for part-time candidates.
  • Adjustment of the Maximum Enrolment Period End Date when program leave is approved prior to the Maximum Enrolment Period End Date. Periods of approved research program leave taken prior to the Maximum Enrolment Period End Date will alter the Maximum Enrolment Period End Date by pushing out the date by the number of weeks associated with the period of approved leave.
  • Adjustment of the Maximum Enrolment Period Extension Date when program leave is approved whilst on an extension. When research program leave is approved and the leave period is post the Maximum Enrolment Period End Date, while the candidate is on an approved extension, the Maximum Enrolment Period Extension Date will be adjusted for the period of approved research program leave.
  • Adjustment of the Maximum Period for Completion of Program Date for approved research program leave. The Maximum Period for Completion of Program Date is also adjusted for any periods of approved research program leave.
  • System access whilst on research program leave and recreation leave. While candidates are on approved program leave (including recreation leave), access to ANU email, ISIS, library borrowing, and other ANU systems is retained, however, candidates will not be covered by the University insurance policy.

Recreation (annual) leave

In addition to research program leave, candidates may take up to four weeks of recreation leave each 12 months (plus public holidays), pro rata for part-time candidates. The approval and recording of a HDR candidate’s recreation leave is managed by the candidate's Research School or College, typically approved by the candidate's Chair of Panel and/or Primary Supervisor.

Candidates are not required to submit an application for recreation leave through ISIS Manage My Degree HDR; however ANU College or Research School procedures may require the completion of a recreation leave form or other alternative method of application. Candidates are enrolled in 48 units per year as opposed to 52 units per year as this takes into consideration 4 weeks of annual recreational leave. Recreation leave taken will not alter the expected Maximum Enrolment Period.

Other absences

HDR candidates may be absent from the ANU campus for other reasons which do not change the duration of their candidature or the expected Maximum Enrolment Period End Date due to:

  • undertaking fieldwork
  • conference attendance
  • undertaking approved internships or placements

These absences from normal attendance on campus are considered part of your candidature and you remain enrolled during the absence. However, please check with your College or School regarding any additional requirements or approval processes for travel. There are minimum requirements for on-campus attendance within a HDR program and if you need to undertake your program away from campus please seek approval from your Research School or College to be externally based.

Step 1
Supervisor approval

Candidates must discuss research program leave with their Chair of Panel/Primary Supervisor prior to applying and are strongly encouraged to apply for leave well in advance of the start of the proposed period of absence to allow sufficient time to assess and process the application. If there are circumstances that mean you are not able to apply before taking research program leave (such as an illness) then you should contact your Chair of Panel/ Primary Supervisor and School/College administrator as soon as possible and complete a manual application for research program leave. See step 4 for further details. 

Step 2
Review scholarship

Candidates who are in receipt of a scholarship should read their scholarship Conditions of Award before applying for research program leave to check their leave entitlements.

Step 3
International candidate procedures

Visa arrangements

International candidates on a Student Visa should be aware that there are requirements that must be satisfied to be granted leave and that they will be expected to be outside of Australia during the leave unless the leave is deemed by the Department of Home Affairs as ‘compelling or compassionate’.

Candidates should contact the Department of Home Affairs (previously the Department of Immigration and Border Protection) about any potential visa implications in regards to taking research program leave for their particular situation.

If a candidate wishes to remain in Australia during their leave of absence they must provide evidence of exceptional circumstances to the Department of Home Affairs. The decision to allow a candidate on a Student Visa to remain in Australia whilst on research program leave is at the sole decision of the Department of Home Affairs. If a leave of absence changes the expected duration of the research program the Graduate Research Office will issue the candidate with a new electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) with a revised end date.

Before returning to Australia to resume their research program, candidates must obtain a new eCoE and may need to apply for a new Student Visa. Student Visa holders may need to renew their Student Visa before it expires if the duration of their research program is extended beyond the expiry date of their Student Visa.

Step 4
Submit application

Applications for research program leave (except those that are retrospective) are completed using the Manage My Degree eForm, via ISIS .

If for any reason you are unable to use the ISIS Manage My Degree Application for Program Leave form or if any or all of your leave period dates are retrospective, please use the HDR manual leave application form link under ‘Related Websites’.

Retrospective applications for research program leave should only be made in exceptional circumstances. Candidates should note the consequence of a retrospective application of leave could be the incursion of debt for any scholarship payments made during the period of leave where no paid leave provisions were available.

Step 5
Return from research program leave

Candidates returning from research program leave must confirm their return by completing the Return from Program Leave eForm in ISIS. Candidates will need to navigate to the Degree Management tab and go to Manage My Degree - HDR.

Candidates will need to ensure they click the arrows to proceed past the information page until they arrive at the menu, where they will select "Return from Leave".

Your College HDR Administrator will be automatically advised once you submit this form. Candidates are encouraged to promptly complete this form upon resuming their research program enrolment to ensure a smooth re-enrolment process and to minimise any potential impact on the re-activation of applicable scholarship payments.