If you've left QUT but believe you should not be liable for costs or academic penalties of units due to special circumstances, then you can apply to retroactively withdraw from those units without penalty.

If you're a current student, there's more information for you on the HiQ website.

View the information for current students


Withdraw without penalty

Watch our video on how to apply to withdraw without penalty.

In this video I'll show you how you can apply to withdraw without penalty.

If you're experiencing special circumstances and you need to withdraw from units after the teaching period census date or withdrawal without academic penalty date, you may be able to do so without financial and/or academic penalty.

  1. Prior to applying, please check that you're eligible and you have relevant supporting documentation.
  2. To apply to withdraw without penalty, on the Withdrawing without penalty page, click on the ‘Apply to withdraw without penalty', link relevant to you.  There's an option for current students and one for past students.
  3. If you're a current student and you're not already logged into QUT services, you'll receive a ‘Ci Anywhere' window. Click on the ‘Log on with QUT Services' button then enter your QUT username, starting with the ‘n', and password, then login.
  4. For current students, the Withdrawal without academic and/or financial penalty form will link to your QUT details but if you're a former student, you'll need to complete the personal details and current mailing address sections of your form.
  5. Select or enter the course that this request is for.
  6. You then need to select whether you're applying for withdrawal without academic penalty, financial penalty or both.
  7. To determine your eligibility, complete the questions in the ‘Special circumstances' section. Please note, you're not eligible to apply for withdrawal without penalty if you've successfully passed the unit.
  8. Complete the questions in the ‘Meeting unit requirements' section. If you're submitting your application outside the 12 month timeframe, you'll need to provide further supporting documentation to substantiate why you couldn't apply within the 12 month period.
  9. Enter the basis of your special circumstances using the drop-down box.
  10. You'll then need to provide a summary of your special circumstances.
  11. To add the unit or units that you're applying to withdraw without penalty from, use the ‘Add' button. Enter the unit code, unit title, year and teaching period then click on the ‘Save' button. If you're applying for more than one unit, you'll need to add them individually.
  12. You must attach your supporting information in the ‘Attachments' section.  You can drag and drop your attachments or add files.
  13. Before you submit your request, you must read and accept the declaration.
  14. To submit your request, click on the ‘Submit Request' button located on the top right of the page.  On submission, we'll issue you a confirmation email and we'll send you an outcome within 20 business days.

Thank you for watching and if you need more information please contact the friendly HiQ team.

On this page

Withdrawal without penalty is an application process available to students who have withdrawn (or need to withdraw) from their unit/s after the financial or academic penalty date, because they have experienced special circumstances that made it impracticable for them to complete their studies.

We can't consider any applications for refunds of debts incurred for subjects studied prior to 2005. This includes PELS, HECS and OLDPS, and BOTPLS under the Higher Education Funding Act 1988.

Am I eligible?

Withdrawing without financial penalty

This process is for students who wish to be considered for one or more of the following:

  • remission of a HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP debt and/or refund of tuition fees paid up front
  • recrediting of a HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP balance
  • recrediting of a Student Learning Entitlement balance.

You may be eligible to withdraw without financial penalty if you've:

For Commonwealth assisted students (those who have paid a student contribution amount, or received a HELP loan), we assess the financial component of an application in accordance with the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA). We also apply this criteria to students who pay international or domestic tuition fees upfront, with no Commonwealth assistance.

If you're also applying to withdraw without academic penalty, each is assessed independently against their respective criteria and the outcomes may not be the same.

Withdrawing without academic penalty

You may be eligible if you've:

In your application, you'll also need to demonstrate your commitment to the unit requirements before your special circumstances occurred, including:

  • attendance at lectures and tutorials
  • passing exams and assessments
  • satisfactory progress towards completing a practical unit.

We assess academic components of an application in accordance with the information set out below and as per the special circumstances criteria.

If you're also applying to withdraw without financial penalty, each is assessed independently against their respective criteria and the outcomes may not be the same.

How do I demonstrate special circumstances?

You'll need to show evidence of the special circumstances that contributed to you withdrawing from units or being unable to complete all the requirements.

Your circumstances must satisfy all three of components of the special circumstances test:

Special circumstances must be beyond your control

Circumstances are beyond a person's control if:

  • a situation occurs that a reasonable person would consider is not due to the person's action or inaction, either direct or indirect and for which the person is not responsible
  • a situation is unusual, uncommon or abnormal.

For example, a lack of knowledge of how HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP works, or a lack of understanding of our Student Rules, deadlines for enrolment, withdrawing from units, and paying fees, are not considered to be beyond a person's control.

Special circumstances must have made their full impact on or after the census date

Circumstances will be considered to have made their full impact on or after the census date if:

  • they occur before the census date, but worsen after that day
  • they occur before the census date, but the full effect or magnitude does not become apparent until on or after that day
  • they occur on or after the census date.

For example, a person may have an illness, or other underlying, pre-existing condition or incapacity, prior to the census date for a unit, but have a reasonable expectation that they will recover and be able to complete the unit. In this situation, it is a requirement that evidence be provided to show when the full effect or magnitude of the circumstances became apparent.

You do not need to demonstrate that you were prevented from withdrawing from your unit prior to the census date.

Special circumstances must have made it impracticable to complete the unit

A person is considered unable to complete the requirements for a unit, for example, if the person is unable to:

  • undertake the necessary private study required, or attend sufficient lectures or tutorials or meet other compulsory attendance requirements in order to meet their compulsory course requirements
  • complete the required assessable work 
  • sit the required examinations
  • complete any other course requirements because of their inability to meet the above.

Circumstances that will be considered impracticable for you to complete the requirements of the unit (this list is not exhaustive and acts as an example only):

  • medical circumstances - for example, where a person's medical condition (physical/mental) has changed to such an extent that he or she is unable to continue studying.
  • family/personal circumstances - for example, death or severe medical problems within a family, or unforeseen family financial difficulties, so that it is unreasonable to expect a person to continue studies.
  • employment-related circumstances - for example, where a person's employment status or arrangements have changed so the person is unable to continue their studies, and this change is beyond the person's control.
  • course-related circumstances - for example, where QUT has changed the unit it had offered and the person is disadvantaged by either not being able to complete the unit, or not being given credit towards other units or courses.

Documentation requirements

You must provide independent supporting documents with your application to demonstrate special circumstances. The documents must:

  • be date specific. If the documentation is retrospective, the independent professional must verify that they were aware of the circumstances at the time of them occurring
  • detail when the circumstances commenced, worsened, or made their full impact
  • clearly show through facts and professional opinion, how the circumstances prevented you from being able to complete your studies.

Personal statements, including Statutory Declarations, are not considered to be independent documentation.

The type of document you must provide will be determined by the special circumstances that apply to you.

Documents you must provide to demonstrate special circumstances

Is there a deadline to apply?

You'll need to apply within 12 months of withdrawing or finishing your units, including when you completed your final exam or deferred assessment.

If you're applying for a withdrawal without penalty more than 12 months after withdrawing from or finishing your units, we may consider your application if you can also demonstrate that special circumstances prevented you from applying within 12 months.

How to apply

To apply, complete a withdrawal without penalty form. On the form, you can choose to apply for withdrawal without both academic and financial penalty, withdrawal without financial penalty only (we'll also assess academic penalty if we approve your financial penalty application), or withdrawal without academic penalty only.

Please note that you can only apply for one teaching period per form submission. If you intend to apply for more than one teaching period, please submit a new form for each period.

You can only apply to withdraw without penalty if you've failed or withdrawn from the unit you're applying for. You can't apply if you're still enrolled in the unit.

The form includes these sections:

  • QUT student ID
  • personal details (title, family name, given name, date of birth, contact telephone number, email address)
  • the course the request is for
  • the year the request is for
  • the teaching period the request is for
  • eligibility questions:
    • Did your special circumstances occur, worsen or make their full impact after the teaching period census date?
    • Were your special circumstances beyond your control and not due to something you did or didn't do?
    • Did these circumstances make it impracticable for you to complete the requirements of the units?
    • Are your special circumstances unusual, uncommon or abnormal for you?
  • meeting unit requirement questions:
    • Were you meeting the requirements of your units prior to your special circumstances occurring?
    • Are you submitting your application within 12 months from either the date you withdrew from the units or the end of the teaching period that you are applying for?
  • summary of your special circumstances (a brief explanation of your circumstances and how the documentation you're providing demonstrates them)
  • the units you're applying for withdrawal without penalty
  • attach independent evidence/documentation to support your claims.


What happens next?

We'll review your application and contact you within 20 working days to confirm the outcome of your withdrawal without penalty request. This time frame may be longer if we require further documentation from you.

How can I appeal the outcome?

To lodge an appeal, email Student Administration via fees@qut.edu.au stating your reasons, and include any additional supporting documentation.

Appeals must be lodged within 28 days of receiving your original outcome. We'll email you to confirm we've received it.

The Director (or delegate) of Student Administration will consider:

  • your original application for withdrawal without penalty
  • any information you included in your application for appeal
  • the requirements of relevant policy and legislation, including:

The Director (or delegate) of Student Administration will then choose to either:

  • confirm the original decision
  • change the decision
  • set the decision aside and make a new decision based on a new rationale.

You'll be emailed with the outcome of your appeal within 45 days.

If you haven't received a new decision after 45 days, the original decision will remain in effect.

I am unhappy with the handling of my appeal

For Commonwealth Supported Place students (HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP or student contribution amounts paid upfront), you can apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of our decision.

For domestic fee-paying and international students, you can lodge a formal complaint by contacting the Student Ombudsman.

You also have the right to contact an external and independent agent, such as the Queensland Ombudsman. This would involve you submitting a written case to indicate how the university has not acted properly.

If you decide to involve an external agency then you may wish to advise the Student Ombudsman's Office in writing via ombudsman@qut.edu.au.

I've had a successful outcome, can my Student Services and Amenities fees also be returned to me?

No. We do not refund Student Services and Amenities fees if you withdraw after the census date. We are also not permitted to remit SA-HELP debt incurred after the census date.

Help and support

For guidance around appropriate documentation or how to demonstrate special circumstances, email Student Administration via fees@qut.edu.au or phone 3138 5406.

For personal support and counselling, QUT offers free, confidential support for any current student. There are also support services for students who have a disability, injury or health condition.

If you are struggling to meet your university commitments, academic support is also available.

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