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Special circumstances

When can I claim special circumstances?

Special circumstances apply differently depending on the situation.

If you think special circumstances might apply to you, make sure you check the information for your situation.

You might be able to claim special circumstances when:

What can I claim special circumstances for?

When making a claim, you must provide independent supporting documents with your application to demonstrate special circumstances. You'll need to provide different types of documents depending on what your special circumstances are.

Special circumstances may be accepted for some applications but not for others. For example, if you're sick you may be granted an assignment extension but remain ineligible to withdraw without academic penalty from a unit. Withdrawing without financial or academic penalty after the due dates requires more substantial supporting documentation to be provided.

Health conditions (physical and mental)

You may be able to claim special circumstances if you're unwell, or a pre-existing physical or mental health condition has changed to such an extent that you're unable to continue studying, either temporarily or for the remainder of the semester.

You must provide a certificate or letter from a registered health practitioner, stating:

  • the date(s) the practitioner examined you
  • the nature, severity and duration of the complaint (where appropriate)
  • that, in the practitioner's opinion, you weren't fit to study or sit an exam on the relevant date (dates must be specified)
  • the health practitioner's name, contact details, provider number and signature.

A statement that you are or were suffering from a 'medical condition' without supporting comments from the practitioner on the effect of the complaint will not be sufficient.

Certificates provided must be dated within the time frame of the teaching period for which you are applying. Retrospective certificates will only be accepted where the issuing practitioner provides a dated history of your treatment.

We won't accept your application if your certificate or letter does not comply with these requirements. If it doesn't comply, you'll need to submit a new medical certificate or letter before we will process your application.

Attempts to alter, amend or falsify information on a medical certificate or letter from a registered health practitioner may result in formal disciplinary action. We regularly check medical certificates, letters and supporting documents to confirm their accuracy.

If you have a QUT disability service plan, which is current for the semester and contains an assignment extension recommendation, we'll consider it as documentation for an assignment extension.

Family or personal circumstances

You may be able to claim special circumstances if family or personal circumstances beyond your control have arisen or become apparent, and make it unreasonable for you to undertake study for a short period of time or expect you to continue studying for the remainder of the semester.

Family or personal circumstances include:

  • death or serious illness of a close family member or friend
  • significant medical problems within your family
  • family or relationship breakdown
  • severe disruption to domestic arrangements
  • being victim of a crime or accident
  • collapse of a family business which is severe enough to require your personal attention or unreasonable to expect you to commence or continue studies.

A decision based on family or personal circumstances is more subjective than one based on medical grounds.

Depending on the nature of the circumstances, supporting evidence may include a medical certificate or letter from a counsellor, doctor or police officer.

The supporting documentation must contain the name, date and contact details of the person providing the evidence. It should also demonstrate the impact these circumstances have had on your ability to complete your studies.

Employment-related circumstances

You may be able to claim employment-related special circumstances if your employment status or arrangements have changed to make it unreasonable to expect you to continue studying.

Employment-related circumstances may include:

  • defence reserve service
  • transfer to another city or country
  • substantial changes to your employment such as unexpected increase in responsibility and work hours.

Sudden and unplanned travel for work that's beyond your control may be considered for an assignment extension or deferred exam.

Applying for and being appointed to a new position will not be grounds for employment-related applications as these are normally circumstances within your control.

International students on student visas can't claim employment-related special circumstances.

You'll need to provide a signed and dated statement from your employer on official company letterhead stating:

  • the date your employment began or the conditions of employment changed
  • how this affects your study.

Unavoidable commitments

You may be able to claim special circumstances for unavoidable commitments in very limited cases. These are:

  • jury duty or other court appearances
  • sporting events where you have been selected to represent at a state, national or international event
  • significant cultural commitments
  • State Emergency Service call-out in the event of an emergency.

A signed and dated statement on official letterhead from an appropriate representative of the organisation stating:

  • the date of the jury duty, court appearance, sporting or cultural event, or emergency service
  • how this affects your study
  • why these commitments were not foreseen particularly in relation to sporting and cultural commitments.

Course-related circumstances

You may be able to claim special circumstances if a unit has been changed and therefore you'll be disadvantaged by:

  • not being able to complete the unit
  • not being given credit towards other units or courses.

A supporting statement from the QUT school or faculty that offers the unit, clearly indicating that changes made it impracticable for you to complete the unit requirements.

Special consideration for your QTAC application

If you've experienced a situation that has affected your school or academic results, you may be able to apply for special consideration of educational disadvantage when you apply through QTAC.

QTAC Educational Access Scheme (EAS)


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