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.
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 unsatisfactory progress notice is emailed to your University student email account.
During an unsatisfactory progress period there are no noticeable changes to your enrolment. You will:
- Maintain a status of ‘enrolled’
- Continue to receive any applicable scholarship payments
- receive supervisor support and;
- be provided with all applicable services offered at the University.
What happens if I receive an unsatisfactory progress notice?
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 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 to be heard to appeal against the unsatisfactory progress notice.
- 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 the notice should not have been issued . A request to be heard must be submitted by email to Graduate Research (Student Administration) by the due date stated in the notice. This will normally be 20 business days from the date of issue.
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.
- provides an appendix of any attachments 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.
Applying for candidature changes during the unsatisfactory progress period
When you receive a notice of unsatisfactory progress, 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 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.
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. 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.
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.
At the end of the unsatisfactory progress period
A meeting will be held at the end of the unsatisfactory progress period for your advisory committee 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 so they have enough time to read what you have completed during the unsatisfactory progress period can make 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, 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 lapsed candidature, an extension to candidature or thesis submission.
- At risk of unsatisfactory progress – depending on whether you have reached your maximum course duration and whether your committee believe it is likely that you will submit your thesis in the time allowed.
- Unsatisfactory progress – Your committee may recommend that a change is made to your enrolment based on how much candidature you have already consumed (eg transfer to masters). If you choose to not accept this recommendation to change, their recommendation will be that your enrolment should be terminated.
- Unsatisfactory progress – a recommendation of termination of enrolment is made and a show cause notice is issued.
If you disagree with the decision made by the committee you can appeal to the Academic Board within 20 working days of receiving the outcome.
Questions you may have related to an appeal should be directed to the Academic Secretary’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
- 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 working days.
- Exhaust the appeal options listed above and the original decision is still upheld.