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Failed to Apply for a Suspension of Studies - Feel Like Quitting Now


User: Amaryllis427 - 16 February 2021 09:49

Hi Everyone.

I'm a PhD student in my 2nd year. I have a disability support plan because of chronic fatigue. A month before Christmas, I began to feel worse than usual because of severe vitamin deficiencies. I told my Supervisor, and he suggested I suspend. I asked the PGR coordinator for advice, and he told me to apply for a suspension through TULIP.

I wasn't well at the time - the deficiencies severely impaired my cognition - and thought it would be OK if I gave my medical evidence later. I now find this is not the case, I should have suspended, and they rarely allow a retrospective suspension of studies.

The question is: what shall I do now? I feel so stupid and think it might be best if I quit.

User: bob86 - 16 February 2021 13:22

Are you being asked to terminate your studies because you took an unauthorised leave of absence due to your illness? You are in your second year so presumably still within your registration period which is typically 3-3.5 years here in the UK. If so, technically you still have 1-2 years before you need to submit your thesis, i.e., you haven’t failed to meet the thesis submission deadline. Can you please provide further clarification?

User: Amaryllis427 - 16 February 2021 14:53

Quote From bob86:
Are you being asked to terminate your studies because you took an unauthorised leave of absence due to your illness? You are in your second year so presumably still within your registration period which is typically 3-3.5 years here in the UK. If so, technically you still have 1-2 years before you need to submit your thesis, i.e., you haven’t failed to meet the thesis submission deadline. Can you please provide further clarification?

Hi Bob, Thanks for responding. To clarify, my Supervisor advised me to apply for a suspension of studies two months ago. Instead, I assumed that because I had sick notes, and had informed my primary Supervisor of my illness, I could provide medical evidence when I was well again. Unfortunately, that is not the case. You have to apply for a suspension before you take leave - I'm funded by the ESRC.

Because I did not go through the correct procedure, the system did not record my absence, and now I am behind with my supervisions. The PGR Code of Practice states that students who fail to maintain contact with the university are deemed withdrawn after one month.

No one from the university has mentioned anything to me, yet. I discovered my mistake yesterday when I went to apply for my suspension. I don't know how to explain such a stupid error to my Supervisors.

My thesis is due 2024

User: Nead - 16 February 2021 16:05

First thing I would do is contact your supervisor. It might not be a big deal. Explain the mistake and see where you stand.
If no one has said it, it's likely they haven't noticed it- have you missed a reporting period etc?
You will get great advice on this forums-however in this instance the best thing to do is contact your supervisor asap- any see where you go from there.

User: rewt - 16 February 2021 16:17

Quote From Amaryllis427:
I don't know how to explain such a stupid error to my Supervisors.

Don't worry about explaining it to your supervisors. They recommended you to take a leave and will understand that you broke the letter of the rules but not the spirit. They will be more concerned about how you are feeling and trying to help you in anyway they can. Yes the suspension process is now a bit more awkward, but common sense usually prevails in these situations, especially if your supervisors support you in the process. I doubt the university will kick you off the course because of this, you just have 2 months less time to do your PhD.

I understand this is stressful and you are coming back from a serious illness but don't stress about not filling out the correct paperwork. This is a minor issue that can be easily made so don't beat yourself up. Stressing over something minor will you make you fell worse.

I hope you get better soon and wish you all the best!

PS: At my uni we are supposed to fill in a form every time we talk with our supervisors but I didn't fill one out for a year (11 months) despite still having regular meetings (I am lazy). The graduate school flagged it to which my supervisor just replied saying that everything was fine and nothing more was said. What I am trying to say is that the admin department/student handbook can seem scary but a lot of issues just get ignored for better or worse.

User: Amaryllis427 - 20 February 2021 11:07

Many thanks, Nead and rewt; I Took your advice and explained the situation to my supervisors. They were incredibly supportive about the situation and keen for me to continue with my project. They said they would help me catch up on my supervisions, too. I overthought the problem and sent myself into panic mode. All's well that ends well. Thanks again :)

User: bob86 - 23 February 2021 14:09

Quote From Amaryllis427:Many thanks, Nead and rewt; I Took your advice and explained the situation to my supervisors. They were incredibly supportive about the situation and keen for me to continue with my project. They said they would help me catch up on my supervisions, too. I overthought the problem and sent myself into panic mode. All's well that ends well. Thanks again :
)

Glad to hear this. As rewt so eloquently put it, you broke the letter of the rules but not the spirit. You have a legitimate medical condition that necessitated you take a break from your studies; you didn’t invent that story and even obtained a doctors certificate as evidence to back that up. The only mistake you made was not follow the prescribed procedure for taking a leave of absence. There’s no need to apologise or feel stupid for any of that. Good luck with the rest of your studies!





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