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Leave of Absence

Students who wishes to interrupt their studies or are unable to participate in the regular course of study during the upcoming semester may apply for a semester-long leave of absence `Urlaubssemester´ (Section 14 of the Bylaws on Academic Matters "Satzung für Studienangelegenheiten" of Freie Universität Berlin).

Leave semesters do not count as study semesters ´Fachsemester´; therefore, they do not count toward the standard study period in a degree program ´Regelstudienzeit´, which is used as the basis for examination deadlines. They are solely considered toward the total number of university semesters ´Hochschulsemester´. A leave of absence status applies simultaneous to all your study subjects (including in the case of multiple enrollment) and is recorded on your certificate of enrollment.

The application form is available at the Student Administration office or online (pdf format).

All applications must be submitted no earlier than re-registration and no later than six weeks after classes have commenced.

Reasons for leave of absence are listed below:

  1. a study period abroad, including internship
  2. an internship within Germany
  3. illness
  4. maternity leave
  5. care for children younger than four year of age
  6. nursing relatives in need of care
  7. full-time employment
  8. voluntary service

During leave of absence semester fees and contributions are generally due in full. However, information on possibilities of exemption from the social contribution by reason of internships abroad, studying abroad or maternity leave and exemptions from the public transportation VBB ticket fee can be obtained through the Student Administration office.

Since there may be a refund in contributions you should consider submitting your bank account details with the application for leave of absence. Please note that the refund can only be transferred onto the bank account of the depositor.

Your VBB transit ticket is valid throughout your leave of absence. However, once on leave of absence you may be reimbursed the cost of the ticket through the “Semesterticketbüro” by choosing to hand in your application together with your Campuscard. For further information about the amount of refund and deadlines please contact the Semesterticketbüro directly.

For each leave of absence reason you will need to hand in the following relevant proof:

  1. a study period abroad, including internship - an admission letter of the university or college abroad (see example (pdf))
  2. internship within Germany - a document verifying the internship including name and address of the company and duration of the internship
  3. illness - the medical certificate (Attest) verifying that you are unable to attend university during the semester due to illness
  4. maternity leave - a copy of your maternity log book (Mutterpass), including the pre-calculated date of birth
  5. when caring for children younger than four - a copy of birth certificate of the child
  6. when nursing relatives in need of care - a short written statement with a medical certificate (Attest)
  7. full-time employment - the copy of employment contract

Usually you will have a limit of two consecutive semesters. Overall you can only be “on leave” for half of the standard period of study time (“Regelstudienzeit”) in the relevant course of study (e.g., within Bachelor programs you can be “on leave” for 3 semesters in total). This limit may be exceeded with one additional semester in justified exceptional cases.

However, leave of absence due to the following reasons: illness, maternity leave, caring for a child younger than four years of age and nursing relatives in need of care is exempt.

Usually you cannot apply for leave of absence within the first semester of your studies. Detailed information is available through the Student Administration office.

Generally, you may attend courses that includes proof of performance and credit points while on leave of absence. Other rights, such as the right to take examinations, remain also.

Careful consideration should be paid to the effects it may have on other aspects outside of university. These may include, but are not limited to: grants or scholarships, social insurance contributions, tax matters, child benefit and allowances. Statutory health insurance should maintain during academic leave. BAföG-payments are not provided unless you are receiving BAföG to studying abroad. If you are employed full-time during a semester of academic leave you need to provide social insurance contributions.

When academic leave is granted by the reasons of illness, studying abroad, internship outside of Berlin a written power of attorney for third parties is recommended.