Leaves and Extensions

Academic Leaves & Extensions
Time Off for TSSU Members
Vacation Time

Policies You Can Turn To:

Graduate General Regulations and Graduate Student Admissions Handbook

Other Resources:

SFU-TSSU Collective Agreement

There are many unforeseen events that may occur in the course of your graduate career. Although it is a requirement for graduate students to maintain continuous enrollment, you have the right to request the leaves and extensions that are available to accomodate your needs. If there is any difficulty in discussing the need for a leave of absence or extension with your direct supervisor or no satisfactory options are provided, you have the right to discuss this with the Graduate Program Committee, Ombudsperson, or GSS Advocacy.

When requesting leaves, you have the right to be fully informed as to how this would affect any timelines, grants or scholarships related to your program or project.

Leaves, which are more fully outlined in the Graduate General Regulations, are granted by either the Department or the Dean of Graduate Studies and are categorized by:

Personal Leave:
can be taken for any reason for up to three terms, with all program requirements, academic unit expectations, and deadlines will remain the same
Parental or Medical/Compassionate Leave:
Students are required to submit supporting documentation, with leave not being counted towards the maximum time allowed for program completion

The Tri-Council granting agencies have updated their parental leaves as of January 2019 that includes a paid parental leave for those supported by the agencies is being doubled. The maximum duration will be twelve months instead of six for those on an active paid parental leave on April 1, 2019 or later, including those that began their leave prior to this date. 

Academic Break:
can be taken when no courses are offered for a student’s program within a particular term, or there is a scheduled break within a program (e.g. summer term). Students in a thesis program are not eligible for an academic break. The maximum time limit will be adjusted accordingly but all other program requirements and academic unit expectations will remain the same. 
Other leave options may be available that are more suitable to your unique circumstances, such as mental health or anxiety. This can also include visiting home communities without academic penalty to maintain relationships or take part in community protocols or ceremonies. Please contact the Centre for Accessible Learning, the GSS Advocate, and the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. 

You also have the right to request extensions should more time be required to complete the program requirements. These may occur for the duration of 1-3 terms and more than one extension can be requested. 

There is also a right that exists within institutional practice that will accommodate students in receiving an extension for such events as comps exams with proper documentation.

As a TSSU member, you also have the right to time off of work duties around times of thesis defense or comps. Furthermore, within priorities of assignments for many departments, you still have the ability to apply for and accept appointments through the Collective Agreement in priority group 1 while on leave. If you are going on leave, but still wish to receive an appointment as a TA/TM, you can connect with your Department Steward or the Chief Stewards to ensure fairness in assignmentment of positions.

Vacation Time

All graduate students are entitled to three weeks (15 working days) of vacation time per academic year (from September 1- August 31) from their academic obligations. All program requirements, academic unit expectations and deadlines will remain the same. This type of leave will not interrupt disbursement of student stipends or merit-based student financial assistance. 

Vacation timing and duration must be approved by your supervisor and be arranged so that there is minimal impact to your research and other obligations to the University. Should a conflict arise between your vacation request and a supervisor’s expectations, you have the right to request final approval from the Graduate Program Chair.

If you have an appointment as a university worker with guaranteed paid time off, this policy will not affect access to that vacation time.