Any student who wishes to interrupt his or her studies during the next semester or is unable to participate in a regular course of study is required to apply to the Student Records and Registration Office for a semester-long leave of absence (Urlaubssemester) (also see Sec. 14 of the Bylaws on Academic Matters (Satzung für Studienangelegenheiten (pdf-file)) of Freie Universität Berlin). Students are not typically granted leave during the first and second semesters within their subject.
Leave is generally granted for only one semester at a time. A student can typically obtain leave for no more than two consecutive semesters, and in any event not longer than one-half of the regular period of study within the program in which the student is enrolled (for example, the total permitted within a bachelor’s program would be three semesters). In certain isolated instances where there is good cause to do so, these upper limits may be exceeded by one semester. Leave granted due to illness, maternity leave (Mutterschutz), leave to care for a child up to the age of three years, and leave granted to students to care for family members who require care are not affected by these regulations.
A semester spent on leave is not counted as a semester within a particular subject (a Fachsemester); instead, it is only considered toward the total number of semesters spent at the university (Hochschulsemester), so it does not count toward the regular period of study in the student’s program (the Regelstudienzeit), which is used as the basis for various factors, including examination deadlines. When a student is placed on leave, that status always applies simultaneously to all subjects studied (including in the case of multiple enrollment) and is noted in all student records.
During a student’s leave for illness or full-time employment, the student is not permitted to attend courses or earn course certificates or credits. All of the student’s other rights, particularly the right to take tests and examinations, continue in force. Special rules apply to students who have children (see Family Support Center).
Students who wish to apply for a semester-long leave of absence are required to have completed the re-registration process (see above). Applications are available at the Student Records and Registration Office and online. This application, together with a statement of the reasons for the request for leave and documentation, must be submitted no earlier than together with the student’s re-registration and no later than six weeks after the start of classes. Please submit your semester papers in case we have already sent them. After processing the application we will send a new letter with semester papers that will include a notification of your absence.
Students are initially required to pay the re-registration fee (Rückmeldegebühr) in full for semesters spent on leave as well. For information on possible exemption from the social contribution (Sozialbeitrag) in case of leave due to internships outside Berlin, study abroad or maternity leave, please see the Student Records and Registration Office. For information on exemption from the costs of the semester ticket transportation pass (Semesterticket), please contact the Semester Ticket Office. Because it may be possible for students to receive reimbursement for some fees or charges, it is a good idea to provide your bank account information when applying for leave. Please be aware that the reimbursement may only be issued to the bank account of the original depositor.
With leave of absence for reasons of illness, study abroad, completing an internship outside of Berlin, a written power of attorney to a third party is recommended.
Reasons for leave:
- Study abroad
- Maternity leave
- Caring for a child up to the age of three years
- Caring for a family member who requires care
- Full-time employment
Students are required to present documentation of these reasons to the Student Records and Registration Office.
Please be sure to investigate beforehand the impact that a leave of absence will have on scholarships/student aid, insurance premiums, tax exemptions and deductions, child benefits (Kindergeld), supplements and allowances (Beihilfen), etc. Your statutory health insurance should remain in effect while you are on leave. Students do not receive BAföG student aid payments during a semester-long leave of absence (Further information to Auslands-BAföG). Anyone who works during a semester-long leave of absence is fully obligated to carry social insurance.