Formal warning of unsatisfactory progress
A formal warning of unsatisfactory progress (often referred to as a ‘formal warning’) is issued to you if your advisory committee (includes your supervisors) determines that your progress is still not satisfactory at the end of your 'at risk' period, and that it is unlikely that you will be able to submit your thesis on time.
If you do not demonstrate satisfactory progress by the end of the formal warning period, your enrolment may be terminated.
How long is the formal warning period?
A formal warning lasts three months (irrespective of full or part time enrolment), and commences the date the notification is emailed to you. You are expected to be enrolled and continue to receive your scholarship during this period.
Your supervisors will provide support during this period.
When can a formal warning be issued?
- A formal warning can only be issued after you have been enrolled for at least three months (full or part time).
- Generally, a formal warning will occur after an 'at risk of making unsatisfactory progress' intervention outcome is unsatisfactory. However, your advisory committee (includes your supervisors) can request that you be issued with a formal warning of unsatisfactory progress at any stage of your candidature.
- If you have reached your maximum course duration and you have not submitted your thesis, and have not been approved for a late submission or to be lapsed candidature, a formal warning will be issued.
What happens if I receive a formal warning?
- Step 1
- You will receive an email with the dates of the three-month formal warning 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 a formal warning of unsatisfactory progress if you do not meet the set progress requirements
- Step 2
- You will receive an email with a link to the online progress review form due at the end of the formal warning period
- Step 3
- At the end of your formal warning period, a progress meeting will be scheduled
- Step 4
- Your advisory committee chair will complete the online progress review form
- Step 5
- You’ll get an email from the University regarding the outcome of your progress review and the formal warning period
I’ve been told I'm getting a ‘formal warning’
The University will send an unsatisfactory progress notification, with an attached ‘show cause’ notice, to your University student email address.
The show cause notice includes:
- the start and end date for the formal warning period
- the tasks you need to achieve that will result in a satisfactory progress outcome
- a due date by which you can appeal (or request to be heard) the decision by your committee to issue you with a formal warning of unsatisfactory progress.
Request to be heard
The written request to be heard must be submitted to Graduate Research (Academic Services) by the due date stated in the show cause notice. Be aware that the formal warning period is not delayed while this type of appeal is being heard. Refer to the University's Graduate Research Training Policy and the Academic Board Regulation Part 7 for more details on how the process is conducted and what the potential outcomes of the hearing are.
Applying for a change to your enrolment
It is not advisable to make a change to your enrolment while under a formal warning of unsatisfactory progress. Some examples of changes to enrolment are:
A formal warning means that the University has serious concerns regarding your ability to succeed in your course, and making changes to your enrolment could hinder you in demonstrating the ability to make satisfactory progress. Any application to make changes to your enrolment while under a formal warning will be considered, but may not be approved.
If you do apply to make a change during your formal warning period, the following factors will be taken into account when considering your request:
- course specific requirements
- academic progress to date
- supervisor and other resource availability
- your prospects of success and capacity to complete in a timely manner
- scholarship and other funding requirements
- compassionate or compelling circumstances.
Aside from demonstrating satisfactory progress, you need to discuss how you are progressing throughout the formal warning period with your advisory committee (includes your supervisors), including any successes and any problems you encounter.
This period can be an emotional or difficult time, and you are encouraged to make use of the free support services, via Service Finder, available.
Student visa holders
Information for student visa holders who have been issued a formal warning of unsatisfactory progress can be found on our International students website. If you have further questions relating to potential issues for your visa, you should contact Stop 1.
If you would like assistance with your written submission for your request to be heard, the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) provides an independent advocacy service, the Student Union Advocacy Service.
If you have any questions about the formal warning of unsatisfactory progress process, you and your advisory committee (includes your supervisors) should talk to Graduate Research (Academic Services).
At the end of the ‘formal warning’ period
At the progress meeting held at the end of the formal warning period your advisory committee (includes your supervisors) will assess your progress against the documented progress.
You will then receive a formal notification of the outcome via your university student email.
The outcome will be either:
- satisfactory progress
- at risk of unsatisfactory progress
- unsatisfactory progress, where a recommendation of a change to enrolment is made to the Academic Board (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 formal warning period is unsatisfactory progress, you can appeal to the Academic Board. Refer to the University's Graduate Research Training Policy and the Student Appeals to the Academic Board Policy for details.
Where to get help
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your research workload or facing personal issues that are interfering with your ability to work, the University provides a free confidential counselling service.
You may also want to access any of the other services and resources available via Service Finder to support you when you need it. You can also refer to the Resolving problems page on the Graduate Research Hub if problems arise.