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Academic progression

The University is committed to providing the support and advice you need if you encounter academic or personal challenges in completing your studies.

  1. Academic progression
  2. Academic progression support

Academic progression

Academic progression is the way we describe the progress you are making towards completing your degree requirements.

To assess your progression, we look at how well you are meeting the essential academic requirements laid out in the policy, the requirements of your award course, and the units of study you take as each semester passes. We also look at how well you are progressing in your studies in relation to the maximum allowable limit you have for completing your course.

What happens if you're not meeting academic progression

There may be a range of reasons why you'd have difficulty meeting progression requirements at different times during your studies.

This is why we have a process to help us identify students that might be encountering issues with their progression as early as possible, so that we can reach out with the advice and support they need to get back on track with their studies.

At the end of each teaching period, there are a range of indicators we use to work out if a student may need academic advice or other support for their learning.


The progression process is outlined in Part 15 of the Coursework policy 2014

We may identify you as needing support if:

  • your semester average mark is less than 50 percent
  • you fail to pass the same unit of study twice
  • you don't pass compulsory units of study, field work, clinical work, practicum or other professional experience
  • you receive a Fail, Discontinue - fail or Absent fail grade in more than 50% of the credit points you are enrolled in for that semester.

If you meet one or more of these indicators, we’ll send you a notification of being placed on a stage of the academic progression register.

Stage 1

The first time you meet one or more of these criteria, we will email you to let you know, outline where you are falling behind and offer support to help you get back on track

You’ll be encouraged to talk to an academic advisor and complete a questionnaire to help you identify what may be impacting your studies.

Stage 2*

If you continue to not meet progression for a second time (meeting one or more of our indicators again), you may progress to stage 2.

This is another opportunity to access  the support you need to get your academic progress on track. It’s important you follow the steps in your email to access the available academic advice and support so you don’t progress through to stage 3.

Stage 3

At this stage, you will be asked to ‘show good cause’ to continue your enrolment in your award course.

This means submitting a written submission to your faculty or school to give a reason and provide evidence of why you were unable to meet your progression requirements over time.

* There are some scenarios where you will skip stage 2 and move to stage 3 where you will be asked to show good cause. For example, if you are enrolled in an award course that is two years or less, or if you fail to pass any compulsory unit of study or learning activity for a second time.


Your student representative organisation can provide advice and support when preparing a show cause submission:

If you are an undergraduate student, contact the SRC’s Caseworker Help service

If you are a postgraduate student, contact SUPRA’s Postgraduate Advocacy Service

Preparing your show cause submission

Your show cause notification will include information on what you need to provide in your letter, how to submit it through Sydney Student and the deadline for when you need to make your submission. The main purpose of your show cause letter is to:

  • provide evidence demonstrating that your academic progress has been impacted by circumstances beyond your control  
  • show you have developed a plan for how  you will improve your academic progress, including the steps you will take to address any circumstances that have negatively impacted your study performance.


Explain the circumstances that have negatively affected your study performance

  • describe the circumstances that have impacted you and how they were out of your control
  • describe how the circumstances affected your studies
  • explain how these impacts were out of your control

Demonstrate that you will be able to meet progression requirements

  • describe what steps you’ve taken to resolve these issues so that your performance can improve next semester.
  • what will you do in the future to address the circumstances affecting you
  • explain your plans for your unit enrolments for your next semester and any changes you’re making to help you meet your requirements, such as reducing your study load.
  • think about the services available that may help you achieve this.

Provide supporting documents

You may want to submit documents with your show good cause letter to show how your circumstances have impacted on your academic progression.

These might include:

Receiving an outcome

Once you have submitted your letter, the Associate Dean of your faculty or school will make a decision on whether you have shown good cause, based on the explanation and evidence you’ve provided.

Formal decisions on show cause are often not made until after the start of the next semester, due to the tight timelines surrounding results and holidays. It is important to keep checking your student email account for your show cause decision and any actions you may need to take.

If the Associate Dean decides you have shown good cause they will:

  • allow you to re-enrol without restrictions

If they decide you have not shown good cause, then they have two options. They can:

  • allow you to re-enrol with conditions (for example passing a unit of study or limiting the number of credit points you can enrol in within a set time period)
  • exclude you from your award course for two years.

If you are allowed to re-enrol, and you do not meet the academic progression requirements in the next semester, you may be asked to show good cause again.

What exclusion means

Unfortunately, if we do not accept the reasons and plan put forward at the Stage 3 show cause stage, then you will be excluded from re-enrolling in your course. We will email you to notify you of this decision.

To be excluded means that you will not be permitted to re-enrol in your course or any other course at the University for at least four consecutive semesters (two calendar years).

If you are in international student this is likely to affect your student visa status, and we are obliged to inform the appropriate government department about any exclusion. For any questions about your visa requirements you can contact the international compliance team at

Appealing the decision

If you’re excluded from your course or don't believe the conditions imposed on your re-enrolment are reasonable, you can submit an appeal to your faculty.

The email you receive with your decision will include information on how to appeal. Read more about our Academic appeals process.

If you’re appealing against an exclusion decision, you should continue to attend any classes you’re enrolled in while your appeal decision is pending. Even if we make the decision to exclude, we do not immediately cancel your enrolment because of your right to appeal.

Applying for readmission after being excluded

After two years, you can apply to return to the same award course, as long as it is still offered by the University. Readmission is not automatic and is at the discretion of the Associate Dean of the faculty or school.

In your application you will need to show that during your period of exclusion you have taken steps to support your future academic progression. This could include steps you have taken to strengthen your skills, such as studying or work experience, or steps you’ve taken to address any personal circumstances that previously prevented you from meeting progression requirements.

If you are a student looking to be readmitted into either the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the Faculty of Engineering, the Faculty of Science or the University of Sydney Business School, you will need to complete this readmission application form.

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Last updated: 23 May 2022

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