Doctoral Suspension of Enrolment Policy and Procedures


Provisional and confirmed doctoral candidates who wish to suspend their enrolment.


To specify the policy and procedures that apply where a doctoral candidate wishes to suspend their enrolment.


1. In exceptional circumstances, the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate) may approve a suspension to a candidate’s doctoral enrolment.

2. Subject to programme regulations, a doctoral candidate may apply for a suspension, of not normally less than two months and not more than 12 months at one time, on grounds including but not limited to the following:

  • whānau/family responsibilities
  • disability/disabilities
  • illness, accident or injury
  • bereavement
  • professional development opportunities (confirmed candidates only)
  • financial hardship

3. Factors relevant to the consideration of suspension applications may include, but are not limited to:

  • candidate circumstances
  • academic progress
  • impact of the proposed suspension on the viability of the research
  • supervisor endorsement.

4. Applications for suspension must be made by the candidate in accordance with the procedures below and will be determined by the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate).

5. The approval of a period of suspension by the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate) may be subject to conditions.

6. Where enrolment is suspended, a candidate must not undertake any work that advances the progress of their doctorate. A candidate must not avail of any supervision or University resources while on suspension.

7. Where a breach in point 6 of this policy occurs or has occurred, the period of suspended enrolment will normally be reinstituted in a candidate’s time limit and fees charged accordingly.

8. Candidates are responsible for the fees and/or scholarship implications of any change in their enrolment.

9. Candidates are responsible for the visa implications of any change in their enrolment.

10. Candidates must normally apply for suspensions in advance of the proposed period of suspension. Retrospective suspensions will only be approved where the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate) is satisfied that:

a) exceptional circumstances apply to the timing of the suspension request


b) no work was undertaken to advance the progress of the doctorate during the proposed period of suspension

and, in the case of suspensions proposed for the previous calendar year,

c) there is compelling evidence that the candidate was prevented from applying for the suspension in a timely manner due to circumstances wholly beyond their control (e.g. compelling medical evidence).

11. In order to approve a suspension application, the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate) must be satisfied that the suspension is appropriate to the candidate’s circumstances, compliant with the requirements of this policy and compatible with the projected availability of supervision and the viability of the research project.

12. The Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate) reserves the right to determine the duration of a requested period of suspension in accordance with the availability of required resources and required coursework components.


13. A doctoral candidate must apply through Wahapū for a suspension; where access to Wahapū has not yet been granted, the candidate must apply via a Doc 6 form*.

14. The candidate must:

i. specify the duration of the suspension for which they are applying.

ii. provide a summary of the grounds for their application and evidence as appropriate.

iii. provide a statement as to the impact of the proposed suspension on the viability of their research.

15. The candidate may be asked to provide further material in order to facilitate consideration of their application.

16. The candidate’s supervisor will indicate whether they support the application and may comment on the application.

17. The application may be subject to consideration and/or comment and/or recommendation by the Academic Head and/or Associate Dean/Director (Postgraduate Research) and/or the School of Graduate Studies.

18. The outcome of the application will be determined by the Board of Graduate Studies (or delegate).

* In exceptional circumstances, written authorisation from a candidate or their proxy may be accepted.  


The following definitions apply to this document:

Academic Head refers to the head of the academic unit in which the candidate is enrolled or their nominee.

Associate Dean/Director (Postgraduate Research) normally refers to the person holding that role (or equivalent) in the faculty or Large Scale Research Institute (LSRI) in which the candidate is enrolled, or to that person’s nominee in the case of an LSRI or one-department faculty, but the role may also be carried out by the person holding that role in another faculty or LSRI or by a person holding another Associate Dean/Director role within the same faculty or LSRI.

Doctoral candidates, for the purposes of this policy and procedures, refers to people who are currently enrolled or currently suspended from enrolment in a doctoral programme at the University

Supervisor refers to the (acting) main supervisor or to a joint supervisor.

Suspensions are periods of time during which a candidate’s enrolment is put on hold (suspended) when they are unable to continue with their research programme because of circumstances beyond their control.

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.

Wahapū is the University’s online doctoral candidature management system.

Key relevant documents

Include the following:

Document management and control

Content manager: School of Graduate Studies
Dean of Graduate Studies
Approved by:
Board of Graduate Studies, Senate and Council
Date approved:
October 2021
Review date:
October 2024