The information below is for all undergraduate students and students on the following postgraduate courses: EMBA, LLM, MASt, MBA, MCL, MEng, M.Fin, MMath, MMus, MSci, PGCE.

The Examination Access and Mitigation Committee (EAMC) considers applications for intermission from undergraduate and certain postgraduate students. The EAMC’s ‘Guidance Notes for Disregarding Terms’ provides information relating to applications for intermission and is referred to throughout this guide. The official guidance notes can be found here.

Guidance notes on the intermission process for Postgraduate students are available on the Cambridge Students pages.

 

What is Intermission?

Intermission, also known as ‘disregarding terms’, allows students to take time out of their studies for reasons of medical or grave cause. This could include physical or mental illness, bereavement or unforeseen financial difficulties.

The purpose of intermission is to allow students to take a complete break from their studies and alleviate any academic disadvantage they may face as a result of an illness or grave cause.

Intermission is usually granted for an academic or calendar year and allows students to remain in standing so they are able to return to study and take their examinations in the subsequent year.

 

PDF: information guide on intermission

  1. Implications
  2. Process
  3. Before & After
  4. Personal Statement

 

As intermission is a complete break from your studies, usually away from Cambridge, you may have questions or concerns about the implications of intermitting, such as the impact on accommodation and finances.

For some students, the choice to intermit can be difficult; there are often a number of factors to consider. If you are unsure whether intermission is right for you, you might want to explore alternative options that may be available to you before making a decision. Some of those options could be reasonable adjustments, exam access arrangements or adjusted modes of assessment. Further information on these options can be found here.

 

ACCOMMODATION

If you are a student considering a period of intermission, you may have concerns about where you will live during your break from studies. When students intermit, they are generally required to leave College residence. This would usually mean that a student returns to their permanent home address for their period of intermission.

However, this is not always an option for students. In some exceptional circumstances, students can return to or remain in College accommodation. Exceptional circumstances may include where a student does not have a permanent address beyond their College residence, or where a student is receiving specialist medical treatment in Cambridge that would be sacrificed if they returned to their permanent home address. This is an option that you might wish to explore with your College Tutor.

Where there are no exceptional circumstances, but you wish to remain in Cambridge, the University Accommodation Service might be able to assist you in finding privately rented accommodation, including house shares. To use this service, you would usually need to ask your College for a letter confirming you can access support from the University Accommodation Service during intermission. You can access further information about what the University Accommodation Service offer here.

The national charity Shelter can also provide independent advice and support for anyone experiencing housing issues. You can contact them or get help through their website, which can be found here.

If you have concerns or you are worried about your accommodation choices during intermission, you can contact an Advisor who can provide support and help you explore your options.


FINANCE

If you have concerns about the financial implications of intermission, you could speak with your College Tutor to see if there are any funds available from the College.

You could also discuss with the College when you can expect any refund for accommodation or fees that you may be owed in advance of your intermission and departure from College accommodation.

Further information on finance for intermitting students can be found in our Finance section here.

 

Fee remission

You become liable for fees in any term where you have been in residence for longer than 21 days.

In exceptional circumstances, the EAMC may consider remitting the fee for a term if you have resided a little over the limit of 21 days before going out of residence and where it is clear that you intend to return to repeat that term.

Fee remission is not usually possible if you apply to disregard terms retrospectively or if you have been in residence for a full term that you are required to repeat.


ACCESS TO COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY

During a period of intermission, you would be expected to take a complete break from your studies. You would, therefore, under most circumstances, no longer have access to any College or University premises or facilities.

This would include social events organised by the College or University as well as sporting events where you would represent the University.

You will remain free to visit the city and friends.

This is to mitigate the possibility of any academic advantage gained from accessing College or University facilities.

There may be some circumstances in which you could continue accessing support from the College and/or University.

If you are required to pass an academic assessment in order to return from intermission, you may be allowed limited access to accommodation or facilities to prepare for this.

You may also be able to access continued support from individuals such as the College Nurse or College Counsellor during a period of intermission.

This is something that could be discussed with your College Tutor before you go to ensure you know what you can and cannot access during intermission.


TIER 4 VISA

If you are an international student, intermission might mean that your visa would no longer be supported by the University. You would therefore be required to leave the UK for your period of intermission.

For more information about visas, you can contact the International Student Office: international.students@admin.cam.ac.uk

 

THE PROCESS

Other than in exceptional circumstances, an application to intermit will need to be made by the College on your behalf. Your application will be submitted to the EAMC.

You may wish to meet with your Tutor to discuss the application. You can also contact the Student Advice Service for information and advice.

An application must include all of the following:

  1. a completed and signed application form
  2. a statement from the College; usually in the form of a letter from your Tutor or the Senior Tutor
  3. a completed declaration form from you giving permission for medical evidence to be disclosed to medical members of the Committee
  4. evidence of medical circumstances or other grave cause
  5. your SSD if appropriate
  6. all supervision reports available for the academic year(s) to which a period of intermission would apply

Where an application concerns an undivided two-year Part I, reports for both years should be provided.

For courses where supervision reports are not routinely available (e.g. the LLM), the College should supply whatever testimony of the student’s industry and ability it can.

Supervision reports should be provided in chronological order, most recent first.


APPLICATION SUBMISSION DATES

The EAMC meet at certain points throughout the year to consider applications for intermission. The meeting dates can be found at the bottom of this page.


MEDICAL EVIDENCE

You will need to provide evidence that is relevant, contemporary, self-explanatory and specific. The Student Advice Service’s Guidance on Medical Evidence outlines the specific requirements for medical evidence relating to an application for intermission.

The evidence you provide should be from a relevant medical professional, preferably a GP or other medical professional based in Cambridge.

The evidence should also be obtained as close as possible to the affected period of time and relate to the time in question. It should clearly explain the nature of your health issue and the impact it has on your day-to-day life and/or studies.


EVIDENCE OF GRAVE CAUSE

A grave cause is considered to be something that is unanticipated and entirely beyond your control, among other characteristics. Examples include death or serious illness of a close family member or partner.

Evidence of grave cause will need to be obtained from a relevant, independent professional and should corroborate details given in the application.

Evidence from a family member, friend or individual with a close personal connection to the student or family will not be considered by the EAMC.

Examples of evidence of grave cause could include a hospital note or a doctor’s letter confirming a loved one is unwell; evidence confirming a student is the sole carer of a family member or a police report.

If the grave cause is bereavement, the EAMC would accept a statement from a student’s Senior Tutor; no other proof of bereavement would be required.


COLLEGE STATEMENT

Your Tutor or Senior Tutor will be required to provide a statement as part of the application. This is an opportunity for the College to highlight any important matters that they would like the EAMC to take into consideration.

It might be helpful, in some cases, to have a further statement provided by a Director of Studies (DoS).

The EAMC will pay close attention to the care taken by the College when preparing a statement.

As such, it would be a good idea for you to discuss with your Tutor or Senior Tutor the information you wish to be included in the statement. The College should share the application and statement with you before submitting it. This is so you are aware of how your case is being presented and ensure that your situation is accurately represented.


YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT

In addition to the College statement, you can provide your own personal statement in support of your application.

If you decide to submit your own statement, it should be clear and concise.


FURTHER SUPPORTING EVIDENCE

Along with your own statement, you are able to submit any other supporting evidence that you feel would be relevant to your application but may not fit into the categories listed above.

If you have further questions about relevant evidence, you can contact your Tutor or Senior Tutor. The Student Advice Service can also help discuss what evidence could be included with your application.


CONDITIONS OF RETURN FROM INTERMISSION

Before the College submits the application on your behalf, it would be helpful to discuss with your Tutor which conditions will be set to enable you to return after your period of intermission.

Conditions of return may include:

  1. Medical evidence that demonstrates you are fit to return to study
  2. An academic assessment
  3. Evidence that financial concerns have been resolved

Having this information will make sure you are aware of what will be required of you before your return so you are able to prepare appropriately.


WHAT HAPPENS AFTER MY APPLICATION  HAS BEEN SUBMITTED?

Your application will be submitted to the EAMC for consideration. Your application will be submitted by the College on your behalf.

Incomplete applications will be sent back, which could delay the process.

The EAMC will take into account all the evidence and statements provided as well as your academic performance throughout the year.

The outcome of the application should be communicated to you in writing by your College Tutor. They should also provide you with a copy of the EAMC’s letter.

If your application is not approved, you are able to request a review of the decision.

A request for review should be submitted within 14 days of the formal decision being communicated to you.

Information about the process can be found in the Procedure for the Review of Decisions of University Bodies.

 

BEFORE YOU GO

As previously highlighted, it is important that you know what conditions need to be met to allow you to return from intermission before you commence a period of intermission.

This is something that could be discussed with your Tutor or Senior Tutor before your application is submitted. It should also be clearly set out in writing at the point at which your application is approved.

If you are still unsure, you could contact your Tutor or Senior Tutor for further information. The Student Advice Service can also provide support.

You should also meet with your Tutor to discuss your return and what can be expected during your absence.

For example, your Tutor should set out what you can and cannot access during intermission. You could discuss at this point whether you can continue to access support from your College Nurse or College Counsellor.

Your Tutor can also discuss with you how often they will be in contact with you.

You may want to prepare for a meeting with your Tutor by listing the questions and concerns you have relating to a period of intermission.


RETURNING

EXTENDING A PERIOD OF INTERMISSION

For many students, a period of intermission allows them the necessary time to recover or resolve issues they have faced.

You may feel that you are unable to return as your period of intermission comes to an end.

In exceptional circumstances, a period of intermission can be extended beyond three terms.

Under very exceptional circumstances, a period of intermission can be extended beyond two years.

If you do not feel ready to return, a new application to disregard terms can be made by the College on your behalf to extend the period of intermission.

If you find yourself in this situation, you might want to discuss this with your College Tutor or Senior Tutor as far in advance of your return as possible.

You can also access support from the Student Advice Service at any point during the intermission process.


WHAT DO I NEED TO DO BEFORE I RETURN?

When your period of intermission is coming to an end and you are ready to resume your studies, your College will need to apply to the EAMC for permission for you to return.

At this point, your College will need to submit any required medical evidence to show that you are fit to return.

Ideally, this evidence should be obtained from the same medical professional who provided the initial evidence and should clearly outline that you are fit to return.

Evidence from a current GP or practitioner can be obtained if this is not possible. They would need to have seen the initial medical evidence in order to make a judgement about your fitness to return.

Evidence satisfying any other conditions imposed, such as an academic assessment or evidence that a financial difficulty has been resolved, should be obtained by you and sent to your College before the EAMC’s deadline.

The deadline for a College to apply for a student to return for the academic year is 24 August; for the calendar year is 24 November; and for return in the Easter term is 24 March.

Further information about applications to resume study can be found on the Student Registry’s website.


SUPPORT FROM THE ADRC

Support from the Accessibility and Disability Resource Centre (ADRC):

If you are a disabled student, it might be useful to contact the ADRC in advance of your return.

Consulting with the ADRC can help to ensure that any support you need upon returning from intermission can be put in place.

Any changes to existing health issues or new health issues can also be accommodated by the College and University if communicated in advance of your return.


WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN I RETURN?

When you return, you should meet with your College Tutor to discuss any changes that might have happened whilst you were away.

You can use this opportunity to discuss updated adjustments following support from the ADRC. This might be in the form of an SSD or a summary email.

You could also discuss further support that might help you to readjust to University life. This may include support from the College Nurse, Counsellor or Chaplain.

The University Counselling Service (UCS) runs a number of groups and workshops specifically for students returning from intermission. Further information about the workshops and how to book a place can be found on the Student Support web pages. They can also provide individual counselling.

The Student Advice Service are also able to provide support. You can email advice@cambridgesu.co.uk or use our website contact form to make an appointment to speak to an Advisor. Appointments can be conducted in person, over the phone or via video call. Our Advisors are also able to communicate via email, if this is what you would prefer.

Personal Statement

Other than in exceptional circumstances, an application for intermission will need to be made by the College on your behalf.

You can, however, submit your own personal statement in support of your application.

Before writing your personal statement, it is important you read the University’s Guidance Notes for Disregarding Terms and/or the information on this page.

Your College Tutor or an Advisor at the Student Advice Service can advise you on the process and answer any questions you may have.

A personal statement is a short piece of writing about yourself and your circumstances in your own words. This is your opportunity to let the University know about your circumstances; how your circumstances have impacted your studies, and may continue to impact your studies, and why intermission would be best for you.

The University recommends a student's personal statement should be concise and no longer than one-two A4 pages.

You could consider the following points when writing your personal statement:
 

  • Describe your circumstances and the reason/s for your application for intermission. E.g. illness, family bereavement, financial concerns.

  • Describe how your circumstances have affected, or you anticipate will affect, your ability to study and engage with aspects of your course. E.g. attending supervisions and/or completing work for supervisions, attending lectures, engaging and completing group/project work, studying.

  • Describe how your circumstances affect your day-to-day life and the impact they have had and may continue to have on your wellbeing. E.g. eating, sleeping, concentrating, engaging with your academic and social life, feeling anxious, depressive, etc.

  • Explain how a period of intermission will benefit you in your situation e.g. to give you time to recover, to access support and what support you will access, how this will help you get better, provide a treatment plan if one is available, etc.

  • Explain how long you feel you need for intermission and why you believe this would be long enough.

  • Give details of the support you have sought. E.g. you have shared your circumstances with your Tutor, College Nurse, GP or another medical professional.

  • If you have not sought support and do not have any evidence to provide, it would be a good idea to explain why. If the issue you are experiencing is medical, you could still consider speaking to a medical professional to obtain evidence. You could explain to them what you have been experiencing and ask them to write a letter. A professional opinion from a GP could help to explain how your medical issue impacts your studies, or continues to impact your studies. Any delay in seeking medical evidence could also be explained in this letter.

  • You could give examples to illustrate your situation.

  • Be specific about your extenuating circumstances.

  • Be clear, concise and provide the right amount of detail.

  • Include dates in chronological order to outline your circumstances.

Example of a personal statement

Template for a personal statement