A show cause notice is usually issued to you if your advisory committee (includes your supervisors) determines that are not meeting the agreed milestones, often after a period of ‘at risk’, and that it is unlikely that 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 show cause notice, your enrolment may be terminated.
How long is the unsatisfactory progress period?
An unsatisfactory progress period lasts three months (irrespective of full or part time enrolment and type of degree) and commences the date the show cause notice is emailed to you. You are expected to be enrolled, continue to receive any applicable scholarship payments, receive supervisor support and be provided with other services offered at the University during this period.
When can a show cause notice be issued?
A show cause notice can be issued:
- At any stage of candidature after you have been enrolled for at least three months, or
- after an 'at risk of making unsatisfactory progress' period, where progress continues to be unsatisfactory.
What happens if I receive a show cause notice?
- Step 1
- You will receive an email that includes the start and end dates of the three-month unsatisfactory progress period and the progress requirements that your committee have identified to get you back on track. The email will also notify you that your candidature may be terminated at the end of the period if you do not meet the set progress requirements.
- Step 2
- You will have 20 working days from the date the show cause notice is sent to request a hearing if you believe your progress is not unsatisfactory. Refer to the ‘I’ve been told I’m getting a show cause notice’ page for further details about this hearing.
- Step 3
- The chair of your advisory committee will arrange a meeting to be held at the end of the period. Send the work you completed during the unsatisfactory progress period to your committee at least a week before the scheduled meeting.
- Step 4
- The progress meeting will be held to discuss the committee’s assessment of your work. The committee will prepare a written report outlining their assessment of your progress and their recommendation.
- Step 5
- The University will send the outcome of your progress review meeting and the unsatisfactory progress period to your student email account.
- Step 6
- If the outcome is unsatisfactory progress, you will have 20 working days from the date you were emailed the outcome to submit an appeal to the Academic Board.
Implications for student visa holders
If you withdraw from your course before the expiration of the three-month unsatisfactory progress period, the University will cancel your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) and inform the Department of Education and Training and the Department of Home Affairs. If you want to extend your stay in Australia for further study you will need to be admitted into a different course of study and apply for a new visa.
I’ve been told I'm getting a show cause notice
The University will send a show cause notice to your University student email address.
The show cause notice includes:
- the start and end date for the unsatisfactory progress period.
- the tasks you need to achieve to make satisfactory progress.
- a due date by which you can request a hearing to show cause that your progress should not be deemed to be unsatisfactory.
- Information about where you can get help.
- The potential outcomes at the end of the unsatisfactory progress period.
Request to be heard
As per the Graduate Research Training policy, you can submit a request to be heard to argue that your progress should not be deemed unsatisfactory and you should not have been issued a show cause notice. A request to be heard must be submitted by email to Graduate Research (Student Administration) by the due date stated in the show cause notice.
A request to be heard submission:
- should be in the form of a letter addressed to the Chair of the Unsatisfactory Progress Committee.
- introduces and explains why you wish to request a hearing and the hearing outcome you would like the Committee to consider.
- includes clear details and evidence to support your argument that your progress should not be deemed to be unsatisfactory progress.
- provides an appendix of any attachments cross-referenced in your argument.
- ends with your signature as would be written in a formal letter with your name and student number underneath.
When a hearing is scheduled, you will be emailed the date and time of the hearing and given an opportunity to present to the hearing committee. For information on who is part of the hearing committee and the responsibilities of the committee, refer to the Graduate Research Training policy.
Be aware that the unsatisfactory progress period is not suspended while your request is being heard or until the hearing has occurred.
Applying for candidature changes during the unsatisfactory progress period
When you receive a show cause notice 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 you may find this will hinder your ability to demonstrate you have made satisfactory progress. Any application to make changes to your enrolment will be considered by the principal supervisor and requires approval by the dean but may not always be approved.
Applications for changes to candidature require supporting documentation. The document requirements are the same as what is required when applying for special consideration.
Examples of changes to enrolment are:
If you do apply to make a change while your progress is unsatisfactory, the following factors will be taken into account when considering your request:
- course specific requirements
- academic progress to date
- supervisor and other resources availability
- prospects of success and the capacity to complete in a timely manner
- scholarships and other funding requirements
- compassionate or compelling circumstances.
We understand that advice that there are serious concerns about your ability to complete your studies can be difficult to hear. If you find yourself in this situation, there are various avenues for support available to you so you can get back on track.
The most common support services available to graduate researchers are:
- 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 also 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.
- 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.
- Graduate Research Hub has advice about resolving issues, finishing on time and information about making changes to your candidature.
- Service Finder, for other services in the University that are available.
At the end of the unsatisfactory progress period
At the progress meeting held at the end of the unsatisfactory progress period, your advisory committee will assess your progress against the requirements provided to you at the start of the period.
Formal notification of the outcome will be sent to your university student email account.
The possible outcomes are:
- satisfactory progress
- at risk of unsatisfactory progress
- unsatisfactory progress, where a recommendation of a change to enrolment is made to the Academic Board based on how much candidature you have already consumed. (eg transfer to masters or lapsed candidature)
- unsatisfactory progress, where a recommendation of termination of candidature is made to the Academic Board.
If the outcome at the end of the period is unsatisfactory progress, your candidature will be terminated, unless you follow any recommendations by your committee. If you disagree with the decision made by the committee you can appeal to the Academic Board.
Changes to the appeal period end date or questions you may have related to an appeal should be directed to the Academic Secretary’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Student visa holders
Student visa holders who wish to appeal to the Academic Board must do so within 20 working days of receiving their outcome. If you do not lodge an appeal to the Academic Board within this time, the University will notify the Department of Home Affairs about your outcome and your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) will be cancelled which in turn will have an impact on your student visa.
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.
The University will only notify the Department of Home Affairs of the outcome if:
- You choose not to appeal an unsatisfactory outcome
- You choose not to appeal to the Ombudsman after an appeal to the Academic Board
- You do not advise the Academic Secretary of an appeal to the Victorian Ombudsman within the 10 working days
- You exhaust the appeal options listed above and the original decision is still upheld