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Withdraw from units without penalty

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.

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Withdrawal Without Penalty is an application process available to students who have withdrawn (or need to withdraw) from their unit/s after the financial or academic penalty date, because they have experienced special circumstances that made it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?

The withdrawal without financial penalty process is for students who wish to be considered for one of the following:

  • remission of a HECS-HELP debt and/or refund of upfront student contributions;
  • re-crediting of a FEE-HELP balance; and
  • remission of a fee-HELP debt
  • refund or reversal of tuition fees

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.

You may be eligible for withdrawal without academic penalty 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.

Withdrawal Without Academic Penalty and Withdrawal Without Financial Penalty are assessed independently against the above criteria and the outcome of these assessments may or 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 that 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 can I apply for withdrawal without penalty?

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.

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 sbs.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 are required to advise the Student Ombudsman's Office in writing to ombudsman@qut.edu.au (MOPP E/9.2).

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 sbs.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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