Management of StudiesLeave of absence

There are a variety of reasons why you may need to interrupt your studies for a semester, or a maximum of two consecutive semesters. To do this, you will need to apply for a leave of absence. 

As part of the application for a leave of absence (please see deadline for applications), you will be required to demonstrate the grounds for interrupting your studies.  It is generally not possible to take a leave of absence in the first semester. Exemptions to this can be found in the Admission and Immatriculation Regulations of Heidelberg University (Zulassungs- und Immatrikulationsordnung, ZImmO). Students do not lose their place to study at Heidelberg University during their leave of absence and may subsequently continue their studies without reapplying. 

The semester for which a leave of absence is taken counts as a university semester. The semester is therefore counted in the total number of semesters spent at the University. It is not, however, counted in the total number of academic semesters. This means that leaves of absence are indicated as such in students’ records. This is also the case where students spend a period of time abroad. Leaves of absence therefore count as a semester spent at a university, but not as an academic semester. You shall remain a full student of Heidelberg University throughout the leave of absence. You may not, however, participate in the governance of the University; your passive and active voting rights are suspended. In addition, you are not permitted to attended lectures and courses or use university facilities during the leave of absence. You may use the University Library only. You may not sit examinations during the leave of absence and you cannot gain credits. 

Exemptions: If you have taken leave of absence for maternity or parental leave, or to care for a close relative, you are entitled to attend lectures and courses, to complete course and examination components, and to use the University’s facilities. 

During the leave of absence, the administration costs and the social contribution for student services must be paid. In addition, the fee for the constituted student body must also be paid. 

Further information on the consequences of taking a leave of absence is available from BAföG (German Federal Training Assistance Act), from the child benefit agency and health insurance providers. 

International students with a residence permit for study purposes who wish to take a leave of absence are strongly advised to seek advice from the International Student Advisory Service beforehand.

Grounds for the Leave of Absence

  • Study abroad 
  • Working as a language assistant abroad 
  • A work placement of several months abroad (a minimum of eight weeks full-time employment during the lecture period) 
  • longer-term illness 
  • Military or civil service 
  • Caring for close relatives 
  • Maternity or parental leave 
  • Custodial sentence 
  • A number of additional, fully justifiable reasons which students are not required to plead a case for.

Leave of absence may not be granted for the following: 

  • Completion of a compulsory practical semester in a school 
  • Examination periods 

Writing a dissertation does not constitute a reason for leave of absence.