CUPC or “Show Cause” – What is Unsatisfactory Progress?

Each semester the University is statutorily required to undertake a review of the academic progress of each student. This is to ensure that they are progressing through their course in ‘a timely manner’. This review takes place at the end of each semester for coursework students; for Research Higher Degree students, there is a different process, outlined at the end of this page.

The academic review process is governed by the Academic Board Regulation. The process is to be implemented in accordance with the Academic Progress Review Policy (MPF1291).

Information on how to appeal a decision of a Course Unsatisfactory Progress Committee is available midway through this page.

Categories of Unsatisfactory Progress

As part of the University’s process of monitoring academic progress, coursework students may be identified as being ‘At Risk’ or ‘making unsatisfactory progress’ in accordance with the Academic Progress Review Policy and will depend on whether you are enrolled in graduate or undergraduate coursework, honours or specific disciplines. Any correspondence from the University should indicate the category relevant to you.

What happens if I receive a notice about Unsatisfactory Progress?

If you have received a letter from the University regarding your academic progress, this should be taken very seriously. The University is aware of and concerned about the range of factors which can influence a student’s ability to study effectively and this contact with you is designed to assist you to maximise your prospects of successfully completing your course.

The letter you have received should indicate if you have been invited to what is known as an “At Risk” meeting with a Course Advisor, or a full Course Unsatisfactory Progress Committee (CUPC) meeting.

Research Higher Degree students should see the end of this page for information regarding the relevant academic review processes.

Preparing a written submission

While the CUPC or “Show Cause” notice letter may ask you to prepare a written submission or attend a meeting, we strongly encourage you to do both to ensure that there are no questions left unanswered and you have the best opportunity to explain your situation. It is in your best interest to tell the committee as much as you can about what went wrong so they can fully understand your circumstances, however the most crucial aspect is to emphasise what has or will change to improve your academic performance.

You should receive a copy of your Student Record Card in a separate email within three business days of your invitation to a CUPC meeting, however if you haven’t received a copy within this time, and have a deadline for a submission that will not allow you sufficient time to review this, you can request a copy by emailing: academic-progress@unimelb.edu.au.

The Student Record Card is really important, because it contains information about you results, and any past progress issues, including recommendations and other outcomes from previous meetings. Your submission needs to directly address these sorts of issues.

Your written submission is a formal letter to the committee and should contain three main areas:

  1. The reason/s why you did not do well. Explain clearly and in detail the circumstances that have affected your studies. If you have supporting documentation or evidence then it is helpful to attach this.
  2. How you are addressing the circumstances that affected your performance. What steps are you taking to ensure you improve? These need to be achievable and realistic. Be specific.
  3. What you would like the committee to allow you to do. For example, continue in your course, reduce your subject load to part time, or take a leave of absence.

Feel free to use our template letter to get started. Once you have drafted your letter, we are able to provide feedback on this before you submit it. If you send us your draft response, a copy of your CUPC “Show Cause” notice, and your student record (which should be sent to you along with your notice) and let us know when your submission is due, we will endeavour to get this back to you in time for you to submit it.

Download our template letter here: Letter to the Course Unsatisfactory Progress Committee

Preparing for a CUPC meeting

The meeting is not intended to be a stressful experience, but it is normal to feel nervous. The role of the committee is not to punish you, but to establish whether you have the capacity to finish your course and assist you with any strategies to improve in future semesters.

The meetings are quite short, normally lasting anywhere from five to 15 minutes. You are allowed to take a support person in with you, and this can be a friend, family member, or one of our Peer Support Program volunteers. Your support person is only allowed to speak with permission from the chair of the committee, or if they are asked a direct question.

The committee will consist of a minimum of three staff from the faculty; three senior academic staff and possibly an experienced student advisor. You will be introduced to all members and given an opportunity to state your case. The committee will have a copy of your full academic record, your written submission and any supporting documents you provided, so you will only need to address the main points, or discuss anything that you may have forgotten in your letter. The committee will then ask you questions if they require further information to make their decision.

We made a brochure to summarise the key things for you to remember that you can download here: Understanding the Course Unsatisfactory Committee Brochure

After the meeting

The committee will not tell you their decision in the meeting itself. You will be notified of the outcome by email within three working days.

Possible outcomes

A Course Unsatisfactory Progress Committee may:

  • impose conditions on the student’s enrolment or academic performance in the following teaching period;
  • impose a probationary status on the student’s enrolment, which may include a requirement to undertake specified actions, such has attending workshops or meetings with designated staff intended to increase the student’s chance of academic success;
  • require the student to undertake specified actions to increase their chances of academic success;
  • revoke a scholarship that was awarded to the student;
  • require the student to take leave of absence for a specified period; or
  • terminate the student’s enrolment in the course.

You may be allowed to continue in your course with no restrictions on your enrolment, however the CUPC may also recommend actions for you to take, including getting support from Academic Skills, Counselling, or Student Equity and Disability Support (SEDS). While these are only recommendations, it is in your best interest to take the advice of the committee as failure to do so may impact future decisions if you are required to attend a CUPC meeting again.

What if I want to appeal the CUPC decision?

If you are not happy with the outcome of the meeting, you are entitled to appeal the decision. This appeal needs to be based on at least one of the following grounds:

  • a procedural irregularity has occurred (which may include that the student has not received a fair hearing in all the circumstances);
  • there is new information that could not reasonably have been provided at the time of the original decision, and that would probably have affected the decision or any penalty imposed;
  • the decision was manifestly wrong or not available in the circumstances; and/or
  • the penalty imposed was manifestly excessive, harsh or inappropriate.In your letter you must clearly state the grounds of your appeal, submit evidence to substantiate these grounds, and state the outcome that you seek. We strongly suggest seeking advice from us before submitting your letter of appeal.

To write an effective appeal letter you need to know why the CUPC made the decision that they did, as this is what you are arguing against by lodging an appeal. The Academic Board Appeals Committee Secretary can provide you with a copy of the report made by the CUPC outlining the reasons for their decision.

To obtain a copy of this report, you need to fill in this form to request it from the Academic Governance Unit.

The University’s procedure for appeals to the Academic Board is set out in the following document: Student Appeals to the Academic Board Policy (MPF1323)  and detailed advice about the process can be found on the University Secretary’s advice page: Academic Progress Appeals. The University Secretary’s advice page has a template that you can refer to as a model to get you started.

We strongly encourage you to contact us to discuss your appeal before you write to the University. To assist us to help you, please prepare the following documents prior to your appointment with us:

  • a draft letter of appeal;
  • a copy of the CUPC Report;
  • the outcome email sent to you after your CUPC meeting; and
  • your Student Record Card (which should be made available to you on request).

What to expect if you appeal

If the Academic Board is satisfied you have demonstrated grounds for appeal then an appeal hearing will be scheduled with the Academic Board Appeals Committee. You will be required to attend to present your appeal. You are able to take a support person to the hearing and we recommend you take an Advocate from the Advocacy Service with you.

Appeal hearings are set down for approximately 25 minutes, however they may take longer. They will be attended by three members of the Academic Board who are not from your Faculty. A representative from your Faculty will also be in attendance to answer any questions the Appeals Committee may have regarding the CUPC decision but they do not form part of the decision making committee.

The outcome from the appeal hearing will be provided to you in writing within five working days.

External appeals

The Academic Board is the final decision making body within the University. The only option available to appeal an Academic Board decision is through the Victorian Ombudsman. We recommend that you seek advice from us before contacting the Ombudsman.

International students and visa conditions

International student visas are issued subject to a number of conditions. Condition ‘8202 – Meeting Course Requirements’ states that you must maintain satisfactory attendance in your course and course progress for each study period as required by your education provider. If the University decides that you have not made satisfactory academic progress and the outcome from the CUPC is to terminate your enrolment, the University must notify the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).

This notification will result in the cancellation of your student visa and the requirement to leave the country. It may also affect your chances of obtaining another student visa to Australia for up to three years.

Therefore it is vital that all international students who are notified that they have not made satisfactory academic progress seek advice from us as well as International Student Services before determining a course of action.

For further information about how unsatisfactory academic progress can affect your visa, please contact International Student Services.

Research Higher Degree (RHD) students

As well as the process outlined in the Academic Board Regulation, reviewing a student’s academic progress in a Research Higher Degree is managed in accordance with the Graduate Research Training Policy (MPF1321).

You can read more about these processes on the Graduate Research Hub page on Reviewing Progress.

If you have been advised that you are at risk of making unsatisfactory progress, have received a warning, or wish to appeal a decision made, we can provide individual advice. Please contact us for an appointment.

Need more help?

We can assist with all stages of this process from preparing for the CUPC to helping you with an appeal. We have a drop in clinic between 2- 4 PM Monday – Thursday where we can give you some preliminary advice, or alternatively you can contact us for advice and feedback on your draft submission.