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MGA Advocacy: Extending your maximum leave

Meet Riley*, a PhD student who has faced a series of challenges throughout their research journey. They got in touch with the MGA Advocacy team when their request for extended leave was rejected. Read on to find out how we were able to help Riley get a better outcome.

Riley is a full-time international student at Monash. Hindered by the pandemic shutdowns and grappling with mental health difficulties, they found themselves needing over 12 months of leave, which is beyond the standard maximum leave entitlement for PhD students.

Riley needed some more time off and applied for an additional three months of sick leave with a new medical certificate from their doctor.

However, this request hit a roadblock when the Academic Director, citing exhaustion of standard leave entitlements, declined the leave extension request. Riley was then provided with two options: rush to schedule their unprepared Final Milestone immediately or withdraw from the program in good standing. 

Faced with this daunting situation, yet determined to continue their studies, Riley sought advice from the MGA’s Advocacy service.

With the Advocate’s guidance, Riley gathered further supporting documents and crafted a compelling personal statement showcasing the exceptional circumstances they faced. Armed with this strong case, they resubmitted their leave request to the Graduate Research Office.

A little while later, Riley sent this email to the MGA Advocate with some great news:

I hope you’re ready for some explosive news: the Monash Academic Director has decided to approve my re-submitted sick leave! I’m still incredulous, but so relieved. I was so anxious and scared.

I want to thank you a lot for your precious advice and support for this application. If it hadn’t been for you, I wouldn’t have even considered resubmitting my sick leave application. 

Also, I want to thank you for listening to my story and showing great understanding.

If another PhD student is in a similar difficult situation, I want them to know they can rely on the MGA Advocates. And maybe they can ask for their support at an earlier stage, unlike me! 

Riley’s testimony highlights the importance of seeking advocacy assistance early on and trusting that there are often alternative options available.

  • Find out more about  extended periods of leave in exceptional circumstances under of the PhD Handbook.
  • *Please note that Riley is not the actual name of this student. Our case studies are often about real students or real situations, but we maintain their anonymity because your privacy is important to us.

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