A notice of unsatisfactory progress is issued to you if your advisory committee (including your supervisors) determines after a period of ‘at risk’ that you are not meeting the agreed milestones and it is unlikely you will be able to submit your thesis on time.
If you do not meet the agreed targets for satisfactory progress by the end date specified on the notice, you will be required to show cause as to why your enrolment should not be terminated.
When can an unsatisfactory progress notice be issued?
A notice can be issued:
- After an ‘at risk of unsatisfactory progress’ period during an extension to probationary candidature, or
- after an 'at risk of making unsatisfactory progress' period following a progress review, where progress continues to be unsatisfactory,
- or if you fail to respond to an “at risk” notice in the required timeframe.
What should I expect as part of the unsatisfactory progress process?
The CAPC can decide to:
(a) Confirm that your progress is unsatisfactory and that the assessment by the advisory committee is correct. They will also check the progress requirements, or
(b) Recommend an alternative option eg. Conversion to MPhil. If you do not take up this recommendation within 10 business days, you will be issued with a show cause notice; or
(c) Recommend that your enrolment be terminated, and that the dean issue a ‘show cause’ notice only.
(d) Withdraw the unsatisfactory progress and recommend intervention ie. a period of ‘at risk’ instead.
If your progress is assessed as satisfactory, the advisory committee will submit their report recommending that you should continue in your degree. An official notice will be sent to your University email account advising you that your progress is no longer considered to be unsatisfactory.
However, if it is determined your progress continues to be unsatisfactory the committee will recommend that your enrolment is terminated. You will be required to attend a show cause meeting to present a case as to why your enrolment should not be terminated.
Student visa holders are encouraged to view the information regarding your visa if your enrolment changes and contact International student support if you require further assistance or have questions relating to your visa not answered on this site.
I’ve been told I'm getting an unsatisfactory progress notice
The University will send an unsatisfactory progress notice to your University student email address if your progress is deemed unsatisfactory.
The notice includes:
- the requirement for you to attend a Course Academic Progress Committee (CAPC) meeting.
- an expectation for you to provide a written response regarding the unsatisfactory progress for the CAPC meeting within 10 business days from the date of the unsatisfactory progress notice. It is important you attend the meeting and provide a written submission. If you cannot attend the meeting it is important that you still provide a written submission, which will be considered by the CAPC in their deliberations and in reaching a decision.
- a referral to Student Advocacy if you need help in writing your statement, or would like to have a member of Student Advocacy act as your support person at the CAPC meeting.
- Information about where you can get help.
Your written response
As per the Academic Progress Review Policy (Graduate Research) section 5.22, a written statement must be submitted by email to Graduate Research (Student Administration) by the due date stated in the notice. This will normally be 10 business days from the date of issue.
- should be in the form of a letter addressed to the Chair of the Course Academic Progress Committee.
- includes clear details and evidence to support your argument that your progress should not be deemed to be unsatisfactory or what might have led to your issues with progress.
- explains what you have done or will do to make improvements to support satisfactory progress.
- provides an appendix of any attachments referenced in your argument or explanations.
When a meeting is scheduled, you will be emailed the date and time of the meeting and the meeting papers, including your written submission and the tasks your Advisory Committee believe you need to achieve to make satisfactory progress. Your principal supervisor and advisory committee chair will also be invited to attend.
Potential outcomes of the CAPC meeting
The CAPC may decide one of the following:
- that you should be given three months to meet the progress requirements. The unsatisfactory progress period will start from the date you are sent the CAPC meeting outcome notice including the agreed progress requirements. Please Note: the CAPC may recommend a leave of absence to be included in the progress plan. In this case the three months start from the date you are expected to return from leave.
- that you be offered the opportunity to convert to a masters by research course (only relevant if enrolled in a Doctoral degree) with the condition that if you do not submit the conversion form within 10 business days, that you will be sent a show cause notice and your enrolment may be terminated.
- that the dean should issue a “show cause” notice as per the Academic Progress Review Policy (Graduate Research) section 5.9.
Applying for candidature changes during the unsatisfactory progress period
When a period of unsatisfactory progress is initiated after a CAPC meeting, it means that the University has serious concerns regarding your ability to succeed in your course. If you choose to make changes to your enrolment during this period, you should discuss how this affects your progress plan with your supervisors and ensure it will not hinder your ability to demonstrate you have made satisfactory progress.
Examples of changes to enrolment are:
In addition to the approvers indicated for the above requests, any changes to your candidature during an unsatisfactory progress period will also need the approval of the associate dean (or equivalent). To assist with a smooth process for approving your application, please provide all the documents required to support your application. The documentation requirements are the same as those listed for special consideration applications in coursework degrees.
It is understood that it can be difficult to hear that there are serious concerns about your ability to complete your course. If you find yourself in this situation, there are various avenues for support available to you to help you get back on track.
Support services available to graduate researchers include:
- Your supervisors and other advisory committee members. They will support you throughout the unsatisfactory period and assist you with any problems you encounter. It is important to be in regular contact with them to discuss your progress and any successes.
- Free confidential counselling services provided by the University, if you are facing personal issues that are interfering with your ability to work.
- Graduate Research (Student Administration), for any questions about the unsatisfactory progress process or changes to candidature you wish to make during the unsatisfactory progress period.
- Graduate Research Hub has advice about resolving issues, finishing on time and information about making changes to your candidature.
- University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) Student Union Advocacy Service, provides an independent advocacy service and assistance with a written submission for your request for a hearing and other appeals.
- Service Finder, for a directory of other services that may assist.
Withdrawal from your course during the unsatisfactory progress period
You may choose to withdraw from your graduate research degree at any point before the end of the unsatisfactory progress period or before receiving a show cause notice. If you choose to withdraw, you may be able to apply for admission to a different research degree at the University of Melbourne or another institution depending on your circumstances.
If you are a student visa holder, once the course withdrawal is processed, your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) will be cancelled and the Department of Education and Training as well as the Department of Home Affairs will be informed. If you wish to continue your study in Australia, you will need to apply for admission into another degree/university and prepare a new visa application. For details, please contact the Department of Home Affairs.
At the end of the unsatisfactory progress period
If you have been given three months by a Course Academic Progress Committee (CAPC), to achieve the progress requirements your advisory committee will hold a meeting at the end of the unsatisfactory progress period to assess your progress against the requirements provided to you. At this meeting it will be determined whether your progress is satisfactory. The meeting will be arranged by the advisory committee chair who will notify you when to provide an update on any research outputs, writing or research plans to your committee members. It is important they have enough time to read what you have completed during the unsatisfactory progress period so they can have an informed discussion at the meeting.
Prior to the meeting make sure you have had a discussion with your supervisors, and you are fully aware of the details and expectations of the meeting. After the meeting, an official notification of the outcome will be sent to your University student email account.
The possible outcomes are:
- Satisfactory progress – depending on your stage of candidature, your committee may also approve confirmation of candidature, lapsed candidature, an extension to candidature or thesis submission.
- Unsatisfactory progress – a recommendation of termination of enrolment is made and a show cause notice is issued.
Show cause meeting
If you received a show cause notice due to your advisory committee recommending that your enrolment is terminated a CAPC meeting will occur.
This CAPC may have the same members as any earlier CAPC. You will be asked to provide a written statement detailing the reasons why your enrolment should not be terminated. If you are invited and unable to attend the meeting, you should still provide a written statement as the CAPC will make a decision regarding your enrolment in your absence based on the information they have available. Please provide as much detail as possible to assist the committee in making their decision.
The CAPC may decide:
- that you be given one final opportunity of three months to achieve the progress requirements. If you fail to meet the requirements at the end of the three months, your enrolment will be terminated,
- that you be offered the opportunity to transfer to a masters by research course, or
- that your enrolment is terminated.
If you disagree with the decision made by the CAPC you can appeal to the Academic Board within 20 working days of receiving the outcome.
Any questions related to an appeal should be directed to the Academic Secretary’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If your appeal to the Academic Board is unsuccessful, but you still believe the outcome of the process to be unfair, you may also appeal to the Victorian Ombudsman. You must do this within 10 working days of receiving the Academic Board decision and provide evidence of lodgement to the Academic Secretary.
Your right to appeal to the Victorian Ombudsman is not limited to 10 working days; however, the University must notify the Department of Home Affairs that you have not achieved satisfactory academic progress after 10 working days if no evidence of an appeal to the Ombudsman is received.
Student visa holders
If the outcome was that your progress continued to be unsatisfactory and you do not lodge an appeal to the Academic Board within 20 working days of receiving your outcome, the University will notify the Department of Home Affairs about your outcome. Your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) will be cancelled which in turn will have an impact on your student visa.
The University will only notify the Department of Home Affairs of the outcome if you:
- Choose not to appeal an unsatisfactory outcome.
- Elect not to appeal to the Ombudsman after an appeal to the Academic Board.
- Do not advise the Academic Secretary of an appeal to the Victorian Ombudsman within the 10 business days.
- Exhaust the appeal options listed above and the original decision is still upheld.