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Show Good Cause – frequently asked questions

Q. I’ve been sent a Stage 1 or 2 Staying on Track notification from my faculty. Do I need to do anything?

A. Yes. We strongly recommend you follow the directions outlined in the notification, especially if you have been asked to contact an academic adviser. These notifications are warnings: they tell you that you have not reached the academic progression requirements for your course, and you must show that you will make every effort to pass the next semester.

Q. I’ve been sent a Stage 3 notification from my faculty, requiring me to Show Good Cause. Can SUPRA write my letter for me?

A. No, but we can help you with the letter that you write. Use our template letter to start writing your response, and read our advice on what to include in your letter. Then contact us for feedback on your draft and further assistance.

Q. What are the possible Show Cause outcomes?

A. Your faculty has to decide whether or not you have shown good cause. If you have shown good cause you will be allowed to re-enrol (or remain enrolled if you have already completed the enrolment process).

If you have not shown good cause you will either be excluded from your course or permitted to re-enrol subject to conditions. Conditions can include successful completion of units in the current semester or the requirement to reduce your study load.

Q. How long will it take after submitting my letter before I receive a decision?

A. The faculty has a short amount of time between semesters to make this decision, so in most cases you will receive an outcome within a week or two after submitting.

Q. Who will assess my Show Good Cause response letter?

A. In most cases your faculty associate dean or an appropriately experienced officer delegated by the faculty is the decision-maker. None of your unit coordinators or teaching staff are involved in deciding your Show Good Cause outcome.

Q. Now that I’ve submitted my Show Good Cause letter what should I do?

A. Continue your studies as normal. While your submission is being assessed you remain enrolled in your degree and can re-enrol in the next semester.

Q. Who can I contact if I haven’t received an outcome to my Show Cause after 2 weeks?

A. Send a follow-up email to the address on your stage 3 notification letter. Include your full name, SID and the date you submitted your Show Good Cause application.

Q. This is the second time I have received a Show Good Cause notification. Am I in real trouble?

A. Many students are able to successfully Show Good Cause more than once. But your response to a second or third Show Good Cause notification must be carefully written. We recommend you contact us for assistance.

Q. I can’t think of any good reasons for failing my unit – my course is just really hard. I wasn’t sick and my teachers were great. What can I write?

A. There is usually something you can include to provide the faculty with confidence that you understand what is required to pass the course and that you have a plan for improvement. We recommend that you read our advice and contact us for assistance.

Q. I received an outcome of ‘allowed to re-enrol with conditions’. Do I need to appeal?

A. No. This outcome means you can continue as normal, but you must follow the listed conditions in the outcome letter. If you don’t agree with any of the listed conditions, you may appeal those conditions. Contact us for assistance.

Q. Once I have been excluded can I apply for re-admission to my course?

A. If you are excluded under the Coursework Policy 2014 and either don’t appeal or are unsuccessful in your appeal, you do have the right to apply for re-admission. Normally, you would be excluded for 4 semesters, after which time you can write to the relevant associate dean of your faculty to request readmission to your course.

If you are unsuccessful, you have the option to submit an academic appeal against this decision. This appeal would need to be addressed to the Student Appeals Body and be submitted within 15 working days of the decision of the faculty.

Keep in mind that you still have to complete your course within the maximum allowable time, and a period of exclusion might make this more difficult. If you are close to, or have exceeded, your time limit talk to your faculty for advice.

Q. I have been excluded for not showing good cause, and want to appeal. Can SUPRA help me appeal?

A. Yes. Contact us for advice and assistance with appeals.

Q. What happens if the Student Appeals Body (SAB) grants me a hearing?

A. You should receive at least 10 working days’ notice of your appeal hearing date. The faculty must provide written evidence and submissions that give reasons for their decision. In their submission, the faculty can address whether they believe they have observed due academic process. The faculty’s submission will be provided to you by the SAB at least 5 working days before the hearing date.

At the hearing, 3 people will be on the SAB panel, and these will normally be:

  1. the Chair or the Deputy Chair of the Academic Board
  2. an academic from a faculty different to yours
  3. a student from a faculty different to yours.

You can invite a support person to be with you at the hearing, and this can be a caseworker from SUPRA. A representative from the faculty will also be invited to appear in person.

The purpose of the SAB hearing is for you and the faculty to address questions the SAB panel might have. The SAB panel may or may not accept new evidence. As much as possible, make sure you submit everything you want the SAB to consider when you initially lodge your appeal.

Q. How should I prepare for an appeal hearing?

A. Before the hearing, make notes of what you want to say and think about your responses to possible questions. You can talk to a SUPRA caseworker for ideas on potential questions, and practice answering them clearly and concisely.

On the day of the hearing, arrive in plenty of time. Try to stay calm and relaxed. SAB panel members should have read your letter as well as any submissions from the faculty. Answer clearly and concisely any questions asked. Do not rush. During the hearing if you need to clarify anything with your caseworker you may do so.

You may have the opportunity to make a final comment. Emphasise why you think due academic process was breached, why you will pass in the future, and address any outstanding issues raised by the faculty and the SAB panel.

Q. What are the possible outcomes of an SAB appeal?

A. The SAB can either uphold (agree with the appeal) or dismiss a student appeal. They can also refer the matter back to the faculty for further consideration, make a new or amended decision, or determine no further action be taken.

If your appeal is upheld, you will be able to re-enrol and continue studies. If your appeal is dismissed, you will remain excluded.

Q. Are there any other free means of raising a complaint or concern if I don’t feel my case has been dealt with fairly by the University?

A. For international students, the University has to have an independent and external person or body to hear complaints or appeals. The NSW Ombudsman is the University’s current complaint handler.

If an international student lodges a complaint to the NSW Ombudsman, the University must maintain the student’s enrolment while this appeal or complaint is ongoing. This means the University will not exclude you unless the complaint to the NSW Ombudsman is unsuccessful, and the Department of Home Affairs will then be notified. The Ombudsman will only consider complaints once internal processes have been exhausted, so wait until you know the outcome of your SAB appeal before making an Ombudsman complaint.

If you are a local student, you are able to make a complaint to the NSW Ombudsman, although it will not be made under the same provisions as those for international students. You would be asking the NSW Ombudsman to receive and investigate complaints about NSW public sector agencies including public universities. The University is under no obligation to maintain your enrolment while the appeal or complaint is ongoing.

The SUPRA office is closed – but you can still get help!

To help protect the health of our community during COVID-19 our Postgraduate Advocacy Service, Legal Service and council are working from home. We are working to full capacity and are providing timely and accurate information, advice and support.