Trouble getting your equipment bond back?

The SRC Legal Service recently assisted Christine Joseph and other undergraduate students at the Westmead Centre for Oral Health (WCOH).In 2011 over one hundred WCOH and Dentistry students were asked to lodge a $300 bond. The bond is mandatory at the start of the degree to all undergraduate Oral Health students. A receipt number was issued by the Centre to each student. The Centre staff verbally advised that this UGP bond would be returned to the students upon completion of their subject, provided they were “‘liability free’.

To be ‘liability free’, the students needed to promptly submit an ‘End of Year Clearance’ Form at the end of their degree in 2013 by a tight deadline nominated by the Centre. A memo was sent out to the students accordingly. Failing to follow the Centre procedure could mean  no ‘clearance’.

The students were also told by the Centre that the refund process usually takes approximately six weeks. Despite ongoing follow up by the students directly with the centre, and some intervention by the University faculty, no refund was paid almost six months after the students lodged their clearance forms. SRC Legal understands $31,500.00 UGP funds refundable to the 2013 graduates were held by the Centre on an interest free basis.

After SRC Legal took up the issue, the Centre responded to process the refund within a day.

If you experience a similar problem or know someone who has, please come and have a chat with our friendly solicitors at the SRC Legal Service. We are an independent free student legal service provided by the Students’ Representative Council for undergraduate students at Sydney University. We strive to empower under-represented uni-students. You can find our office on level 1 (the basement, Wentworth building, City Road.

To see an SRC Legal Service Solicitor call 9600 5222 to make an appointment.

ASK ABE: Plagiarism

Dear Abe,

I was really pushed for time so I used something I read in an article for my assignment without putting it in the bibliography.  Now I’m in trouble for plagiarising.  My friend told me that if I tell them I didn’t mean to do it that I wouldn’t get into trouble.  I wanted to check what you thought.

Short Cut

Dear Short Cut,

You are already in trouble because you plagiarised.  The first thing you should do is talk to an SRC Caseworker about your situation.  We generally find it best to tell the truth about what you did and why.  Make sure you are diligent with future assessments, as the penalties become significantly more severe.  Be prepared to accept a zero for that assignment as a minimum penalty.  This usually means failing that subject.  Note here, that it is just as bad to copy from your own previous assignment, as it is another piece of work, without using correct referencing.


Have you been overpaid by Centrelink?

If Centrelink writes to say you’ve been overpaid Youth Allowance or Austudy and owe them money don’t ignore it.  Deal with it straight away and quickly.

An overpayment occurs if you get paid too much. Check their letter. It may be because they think you have not declared your correct income or have not told them that you have gone part-time (i.e less than 18 cp per semester)

Check the facts. Check your University or financial records to see if you really have been overpaid.  You may need to ask for a copy of your Centrelink ‘file’ too.

If the debt is legitimate, check that it is the correctly calculated amount.  They deal with thousands of people everyday.  It would not be unheard of for them to make a mistake. Did they get the dates and amounts right? If they got it wrong then appeal.

If you have had a problem (“breach”) with them before you may also be charged a further 10% penalty.  They can give you this penalty also if you have been reckless or misleading when giving them information. You can appeal a 10% penalty too.

Ideally you would pay off your debt as quickly as possible.  Talk to the University’s Financial Assistance Office to see if they will give you an interest free loan.  Paying them quickly will show Centrelink that you genuinely want to mend the error of your ways.  But if you have no way of paying it off, negotiate a payment plan with them.  They can also take it out of your on-going Centrelink payment. They may want to take more money than you can afford.  Be prepared to explain to them how this will cause you financial hardship by outlining how much you spend on things like rent, food and medication. The main thing is to keep in contact with them.

If you have deliberately given incorrect information that has caused an overpayment, this is a serious issue.  For example, if you have been working, but have not declared you income, and you have accumulated a debt of over $10, 000 (or lower in some other circumstances) Centrelink will not only have you repay the debt but also try to prosecute you for fraud, which can carry a sentence of up to 12 months in gaol. The SRC strongly recommends that you consult with an SRC caseworker before talking to Centrelink. In general we suggest you only consider answering questions in writing, and do not answer any questions in a recorded interview.

If you have been overpaid because of a mistake that they made, not due to incorrect or false information from you, then you may be able to keep that money even though it is an overpayment.  There are some reasonably rare occasions where you may be able to get your debt written off or waived (cancelled).  Of course there are conditions.  Talk to an SRC caseworker about this too.

To see an SRC Help Caseworker
call 9600 5222 to make an appointment or email:


I am very confused about what the census date is.  This is my first semester.  Do I need to do anything or is it all automatic.



Dear Cen-suss,

The census date is always the 31th March and 31th August.  It means that whatever you are officially enrolled in on that day, you will be billed for.  This is for local students with HECS or for international students.  The census date is approaching now, so look carefully at all of your Units and make sure that you are happy to be doing the ones you are enrolled in. If you withdraw before the Census date you might avoid a later fail mark.  If you’re not sure what to do, talk to a faculty subject advisor.
Remember: if you are receiving Youth Allowance or Austudy you will need to maintain a minimum full time load, which is 18 credit points or more (24cp is the standard load).  If you have a “temporary incapacity” such as illness or a longer term disability that prevents you from studying full time then talk to SRC Help to see if you can get Centrelink on a lighter study load.


Abe’s answers can provide you with excellent insight and helpful tips for surviving as a student.
To ask Abe a question send an email to:



Have you come across ads online offering false medical certificates? Has anyone ever suggested you get one to use for Special Consideration? Ever considered making your own medical certificate? If you answered yes or maybe, then our strong advice is DON’T!! Just don’t do it.

Did we mention, this is not a good idea….at all….EVER.

There are a number of other reasons we say this. First and foremost because in creating, buying and/or submitting a false medical certificate you are committing FRAUD. This isn’t just against University rules, it’s also against the law, federal law, and potentially carries the risk of a prison sentence of twelve months, if prosecuted by the police.

Sounds serious right! It is! The University also treats this as Academic Misconduct and is referred to the University’s Registrar who appoints a solicitor to investigate. What may have seemed a quick and harmless way to gain special consideration may suddenly find you suspended for a semester or two, or even at risk of being kicked out of Uni. Think how hard it would be trying to explain to your family why have suddenly stopped attending Uni.

Beware, the University knows there are false medical certificates out there. Your Faculty receives hundreds of medical certificates every semester. They know what to look for, so their ability to identify a medical document that doesn’t look right is pretty high. This might be because the certificate looks unusual, or a high number of medical certificates are coming from the same medical practitioner or practice. Faculties routinely check the authenticity of medical documents with medical practices and practitioners, so submitting false documentation is far from “the perfect crime” and more likely to result in you facing serious misconduct allegations and potential police investigations if the University also decides to refer the matter to the police. Is it really worth it?

If you are stressed or struggling to the point that you even consider obtaining a false medical certificate, your best option is to talk to someone about what’s going on. You could speak to an adviser in your Faculty, a Counsellor at the University’s Counselling and Psychological Services, or an SRC HELP Caseworker. You can help explore other ways you might be able to manage your study load without risking far more serious consequences in the long term.

If you need to see a doctor, but your regular one is not available, look for a medical centre nearby, or attend the casualty unit at your local hospital.  If you are too sick to move you can get an after hours doctor to visit your home.  Check for details on the internet.

To see an SRC Help Caseworker
call 9600 5222 to
make an appointment or

ASK ABE: Strained living at home

Dear Abe,

I am currently staying with my girlfriend in her parents’ house. Her parents are really lovely, but I think it is causing a strain in all of our relationships. I moved out of my house because things were really awful there. Do you know if there is cheap housing available through the university?


Dear Strained,

I am sorry to hear that things are awful in your home. If it is because of physical, emotional or sexual violence you may be eligible for Youth Allowance (Unreasonable To Live At Home). Alternatively if you are over 22 years you would also be considered “independent”.

Hopefully that will help with your finances.

The University used to have 40 low rent beds available but I do not think they are available any more. The University has plans of building new accommodation (eg, Urbanest in Darlington, and Queen Mary in Camperdown), but it is completely unclear if there are going to be low rent beds or if there are going to be scholarships for the rent. Either way, the University has not announced how many beds will be provided. With over 51,000 students the only low rent accommodation available are the 38 beds offered at STUCCO. This is the student housing co-operative situated in Newtown.

In terms of emergency or temporary housing while you’re trying to get somewhere permanent to stay you can talk to SRC Help for some ideas. This way you can preserve your relationship with your girlfriend and her parents.


Help for Students with a Disability & Student Carers

Did you know the university has a service to assist students with a disability to access reasonable adjustments in managing their studies?
Disability Services works closely with the university’s administration and faculties to support students with a disability whether it be physical, sensory, intellectual or  psychological. If you find that your health is causing problems with your studies in an on-going way or that you are repeatedly applying for Special Consideration for your condition, Disability Services may be able to help you.
Check out their website to see if you are eligible and how to register:

Disability Services are located within Student Support Services – Level 5, Jane Foss Russell Building (G02), City Rd, Darlington Campus.
Are you a carer of someone with a disability?

The SRC Disabilities & Carers Collective meets regularly to provide student carers with information and support, and to lobby the university for carer rights. Anyone is welcome to meetings and you can follow their Facebook page “USYDdisabilities.carers”. Alternatively you can check out their webpage:  or email them at:

Do you need special consideration?

Special consideration is different to a disability plan. If you are not able to complete an assessment due to your disability, this should be accommodated by you disability plan. If you are not able to complete an assessment due to an unexpected exacerbation of an existing condition, or an illness or misadventure that has nothing to do with your disability you are able to ask for special consideration. As with all Special Consideration requests, make sure you get a specific additional Professional Practitioner’s Certificate on the day of your assessment to show how severely affected you were, and how you were affected, eg, unable to do exam or attend a lab.

Libraries, Libraries all around.

Libraries, Libraries all around.

You really shouldn’t rely solely on Wikipedia to research your assignments. (Or possibly at all.) Every Faculty has a library that specialises in information relevant to your course. These libraries vary in size and are generally located near your lectures. There is a Faculty Liaison Librarian who is able to help you navigate the resources available to you. You can ask questions at the help desk or you can email them.

The libraries are also where you’ll find some computers and photocopy machines. They also tend to have some of the loveliest sun shiny spots. If you manage to avoid snoring, you should be able to have a little kip there to rejuvenate yourself in time for your next set of study tasks.

Please BE AWARE: thieves also find libraries great places to hang out and pick up your stuff. Make sure you are careful with phones, computers, wallets, etc.

ASK ABE: Pregnant and don’t know what to do

Hello Abe,

My girlfriend is pregnant and I just don’t know what to do. If she wants to keep the baby I guess I’ll support her but I’ve only got 2 years to go in my course and I’d rather finish my studies then think about starting a family. I don’t even know if I love her or not. What would you suggest my options are?

Not Ready to Be a Daddy

Dear NRBD,

I’m sorry to hear that you’re in this situation. I would encourage anyone who is having sex to use a condom, as that is the only way to stop the spread of sexually transmitted infections. If you are in a monogamous relationship then you could consider some of the other contraceptives available. Now that your girlfriend is pregnant it would be a good idea for her to talk to a counsellor. The university has a free counselling service that keeps your issues confidential. You can talk to a doctor who is also bound to keep your situation confidential. Beware of counselors and doctors who give advice based on their personal beliefs rather than your welfare.

If you do decide to keep the baby then both you and her will need to negotiate your situation. You need to work out what you’re willing to commit to, and what else you will need. If you decide to terminate the pregnancy then you can talk about your choices with the doctor. Be aware also that this kind of stress will often impact upon a student’s ability to study effectively. If you find that you are too stressed to focus on your study talk to a caseworker at the SRC to get special consideration with your subjects.


International Students – “Health Insurance Holiday Credit”

Did you know you may be able to apply for a “holiday credit” on your health insurance for the time you are not in Australia?

For those with coverage from OSHC Worldcare you need to be out of Australia for 30 days or more, and be able to present your passport, boarding passes or travel tickets. This credit cannot be paid out until the end of your degree.

If your coverage is with another company call them to see if they have a similar arrangement. You must apply within 30 days of returning, so

Contact SRC Help 9660 5222 |