YUSU research has found that 80 per cent of students who have considered taking, or have taken a leave of absence (LoA), did so for financial reasons. In a study conducted by Maddie Boden, former YUSU LGBTQ Officer and postgraduate student, and Community and Wellbeing Officer Scott Dawson, 144 students were surveyed, of which 64 had taken a leave of absence.
In addition to the overwhelming proportion who cited financial support as a main concern, 67 per cent of those who had taken a break said it was due at least in part to falling behind on work, and 67 per cent again attributed their decision to missing out on societies or socialising.
The study also gathered information on students’ chosen place of residence while away from university. Only 43 per cent stayed in York full-time, with 37 per cent returning home, and 18 per cent doing a mixture of the two. 30 per cent of students on a leave of absence were found to be second years, and 29 per cent third years.
In regards to means of accessing support, 80 per cent of the whole group said they had at some point discussed the possibility of taking a leave of absence with their academic tutor.
Following the study, YUSU are in discussion about what more could be done to support students through the process. In collaboration with a series of focus groups in Weeks 8 and 9, they will consider how the system might be improved, addressing both an initial lack of support or information during the process of initiating and immediately after taking an LoA, and a lack of support in re-integrating with the University following a year of LoA.Following this, a report will be drafted collating suggestions and outcomes.
Scott Dawson, YUSU Community & Wellbeing Officer, said: “We hope that the focus groups will help us expand our knowledge on issues surrounding LoA. Over the summer we look forward to working with the University to address some of the problems highlighted by the survey.”
David Duncan, University Registrar and Secretary, also commented: “We are conscious of the financial pressures which students face and are anxious to mitigate these where possible. We would encourage students who are facing difficulties to contact the University as early as possible, either through their supervisor or via Student Support Services. Having said that, we have not yet had sight of YUSU’s research on this issue and would want to consider it carefully before responding more fully.”