If you are unable to meet the requirements for a course due to special circumstances that arise or worsen after census date, you may be eligible to apply for Withdrawal from Course Due to Special Circumstances to have the financial liability and/or academic penalty for that course removed.
Grounds for applying may include:
- Medical reasons
- Family or personal circumstances
- Employment-related reasons
- Course-related reasons.
To apply, you must meet all application threshold criteria and special circumstances criteria, and you must also provide independent supporting documents. All applications are assessed in accordance with the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA).
If your application for withdrawal due to special circumstances is approved, the following will happen:
- The course/s will be withdrawn retrospectively, meaning a ‘WR’ grade notation will be added to your academic record.
- Financial liability for the course/s will be removed. For example:
- FEE-HELP debt will be remitted, and FEE-HELP balance recredited
- HECS-HELP debt will be remitted
- Up-front student contributions/tuition fees will be re-credited or refunded.
- Academic penalty for the course will be removed.
- The course will not be included in the calculation of the minimum pass rate requirements for continued access to Commonwealth Assistance.
- The University does not refund SSAF payments or remit SA-HELP loans.
- In considering your application it may be determined that your final grade on your academic record be changed to Withdrawn without academic penalty (WN) for course(s). However, a change to WN does not automatically result in the removal of financial liability, nor does it result in the course being exempted from the calculation of the pass rate for continued access to Commonwealth Assistance.
You must meet the following application threshold criteria:
- you were enrolled in the course after census date (even if you later withdrew from the course without academic penalty and received a WN grade notation); and
- you have not passed the course (i.e. you have a withdrawn grade (WN or WF) or final grade); and
- you apply within 12 months of the date of course withdrawal, or if you have failed the course, or have not given a notice of withdrawal from the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), then within 12 months from the last day of the study period.
- If you are applying before your final grade has been released, you must drop your course before submitting your application. This means that you will have a withdrawn grade (WN or WF) for your course.
- If you are still enrolled and apply after the last date of teaching (of the relevant semester/session/trimester), your application will not be processed until after you have received a final grade for the course/s.
- Applications submitted outside the 12-month time limit will not be considered unless you can demonstrate, with evidence, that it was not possible for you to apply within this timeframe. Being unaware of the process is not accepted as a reason for not applying within the application period.
You must meet all the special circumstances criteria listed below:
1. The special circumstances were beyond your control
You are impacted by a situation that a reasonable person would consider is not due to the your action or inaction, either direct or indirect, and for which you are not responsible.
2. Those special circumstances did not make their full impact until after the census date
Your circumstances occurred:
i.) before the census date, but worsened after that day; or
ii.) before the census date, but the full effect or magnitude does not become apparent until on or after that day; or
iii.) on or after the census date
3. Due to special circumstances, you were unable to complete your course requirements
You were unable to:
i.) undertake the necessary private study required, attend sufficient lectures or tutorials, or meet other compulsory attendance requirements in order to meet your compulsory course requirements; or
ii.) complete the required assessible work; or
iii.) sit the required examinations; or
iv.) complete any other course requirements because of your inability to meet i), ii) or iii) above.
You must provide independent supporting documents to demonstrate special circumstances. It is not sufficient to provide only a personal statement or statutory declaration.
The documents must:
- Be date specific. If the documentation is retrospective, the independent professional must verify that they were aware of the circumstances at the time of them occurring; and
- Detail when the circumstances commenced, worsened, or made their full impact; and
- Clearly show through facts and professional opinion, how the circumstances prevented you from being able to complete your studies.
The type of document you must provide will be determined by the special circumstances that apply to you. We have provided some examples below.
Example: You had a medical condition that existed prior to the Census date, and deteriorated past that date to the extent that you were unable to complete your course/s.
Supporting document requirements: A signed medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner. The certificate must reflect dates when the circumstances occurred for the relevant study period, including full dates of the medical illness. For circumstances which are ongoing or pre-existing, your supporting document must clearly demonstrate that there was an exacerbation or worsening of the condition after the census date, which made it impracticable for you to continue your studies.
Note: The USC medical certificate form is the preferred form. You will need to have your medical practitioner complete section four of this form.
Due to unforeseen family/personal reasons that occur or worsen after the census date and that are beyond your control, you are unable to continue with your studies.
Example 1: A member of your family suffers from a severe medical condition, and after the census date, you are required to provide full time care. As a result, you are unable to continue with your studies.
Example 2: A member of your family dies and you are affected to the extent that, after the census date, you realise that you are unable to continue with your studies.
Example 3: You or your family’s financial circumstances change unexpectedly after the census date to the extent that you are unable to continue with your studies.
Supporting document requirements: A statement from an independent source (e.g. medical practitioner or qualified counsellor) stating:
- The date your personal circumstances began or changed;
- How your circumstances affected your ability to study; and
- When it became apparent that you could not continue with your studies.
Employment related reasons
After the census date, your employment status or arrangements change unexpectedly due to circumstances beyond your control, and you are unable to complete your studies.
Example 1: You are employed out of necessity and studying. After the census date, your employer unexpectedly increases your hours of employment in circumstances where you are unable to object. As a result, you are unable to continue with your studies or complete your course requirements.
Example 2: You are employed out of necessity and studying. After the census date, your employer directs that you be transferred to a different state. USC does not offer an online option for your course and, as a result, you are unable to continue with your studies or complete your course requirements.
Supporting document requirements: A statement from your employer (on letterhead) stating:
- Your previous work hours and/or location;
- Your current work hours and/or location; and
- The reason for changed hours and/or location.
Course related reasons
USC changes the arrangements for your course and, as a result, you are disadvantaged to the extent that you are unable to complete the requirements of the course.
Example 1: USC cancels your course after the census date and, as a result, you are unable to complete the requirements of the course.
Example 2: You enrol in a course, having applied for credit towards the courses previously undertaken at another institution, and are not advised of the decision for credit by USC until after the census date.
Supporting document requirements: A statement from your School stating that you have been disadvantaged by changed arrangements to your course or program and this it was impossible for you to undertake alternative courses. If the matter relates to credit transfer, evidence of when your received notification of the credit granted, as relevant to the study period in which you are applying.
- A lack of knowledge or understanding of withdrawal procedures and/or census dates.
- Forgetting that you are enrolled in a course(s) or to drop a course(s).
- A lack of knowledge or understanding of USC withdrawal procedures and/or census dates, or a lack of knowledge of other USC policies and procedures designed to support students with their study.