What is a DC?
A DC (Discontinue Not to Count as Fail) indicates that you were enrolled in a Unit of Study but at some point had to stop studying; either by formally discontinuing online by the week 7 deadline, or later because of reasons beyond your control.
Why is a DC better than other marks?
A DC indicates for those looking at your academic record that you couldn’t complete the Unit; unlike a Fail, Absent Fail (AF), or Discontinue Fail (DF), which all show that you were not successful in your attempt at the Unit. You need good reasons, as faculties won’t approve DCs for students just trying to ‘clean up‘ their record.
DCs are also useful if you are concerned about your average mark, progression rules (Stage 1,2,3) or if you are thinking about future Honours or postgraduate studies. However if you do not have a DC it will not necessarily prevent you from doing further studies as you may also be able to seek some consideration of your circumstances (and your marks in other semesters) when you apply for admission into those courses. Speak to an SRC caseworker or the relevant faculty about this. [Note: a grade of ‘Discontinue Fail is not counted towards your WAM, but is counted for progression/at-risk status]
What are the deadlines?
If you cease to be enrolled by the HECS census date (March 31st and August 31st ) you receive Withdrawn for that unit. This is better than a DC as it does not show on your record at all. There is no HECS debt either. However, International Students would need to apply for a fee refund.
If you discontinue after the Census date, but before the end of week 7 you will automatically have a DC recorded. No documents or reasons are needed but a HECS debt or fee is still payable. (Note: This deadline will differ for subjects that do not follow the usual timetable, such as Summer and Winter School and subjects taught intensively eg. some Law subjects)
Due to strict visa requirements, International Students need permission from the Uni to reduce your study load below 24 credit points. Seek SRC Caseworker assistance if unsure. See: sydney.edu.au/students/reduced-study-load-student-visa-holders.html
Applying for DCs after the deadline
You can apply to your faculty for a DC after the week 7 deadline only if you were unable to reasonably attempt your studies due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control that arose or became worse after week 7.
You need to show that at the beginning of the semester you reasonably believed that you would be successful in the unit/s, but it was not until after the DC deadline that your situation worsened and you were no longer able to complete the unit/s. You will need independent documentation to support your claims which includes the timing and impact of your circumstances.
If you are unable to complete a unit of study, it is best to apply before results are released. You may be able to apply after the release of results, however the longer the delay in applying for a DC, the greater the likelihood it will not be approved.
If the faculty rejects your request you can appeal – see a caseworker for advice.
Factors to think about
Each faculty has its own slightly different policy on DCs. Check online to see if they have a form or a written policy: sydney.edu.au/students/discontinue-a-unit-of-study.html
Every faculty will take into account the following:
Is the problem significant?
The faculty will need to be convinced that your circumstances were significant and beyond your control, or the illness or condition so severe that it was not possible for you to successfully complete the unit(s)
Why couldn’t you discontinue before the week 7 DC deadline?
You must be able to demonstrate that is was not possible, or reasonable for you to discontinue before the week 7 deadline (and, in some faculties, before the results come out).
This might be because the extraordinary circumstances that affected your studies did not occur until after the deadline. Sometimes an illness or health condition gets unexpectedly worse or exacerbated after the deadline. Sometimes students are so affected (eg. sick) before and after the deadline, that they are not able to discontinue until they have recovered enough to take action. You need to provide a reasonable explanation for any delay, as well as documentation that supports any reason for the delay.
Some faculties may also take into account the following:
Did you apply for Special Consideration?
If you did not apply for special consideration in the unit explain why you were unable to do so.
If you did apply and you got an extension, can you demonstrate that it was not possible for you to do the assessment, or apply for special consideration again? It may be that the outcome of a Special Consideration request was not sufficient to deal with the problem you faced. If so explain why.
If you were granted Special Consideration for the final exam and again for its replacement exam then the faculty will normally grant a DC automatically, if they cannot offer any further replacement exam/assessment.
What was your mark in the subject you are applying for a DC for?
If you failed a Unit but your mark was close to a pass, (e.g., 45 – 49%) explain why you believe this was still not a legitimate attempt at the subject. That is, why should this not just count as a fail. For example, you got good marks early in the semester and bad ones later when the problem arose. Or you might be able to point to the past where you have scored credits or distinctions for similar assessments or subjects, and that the low mark in the Unit you are seeking a DC for is best explained by the extraordinary circumstances you have experienced.
Did you pass any units?
If you passed one or more Units in the semester you will need to explain why you were able to successfully complete them, but not the ones you are seeking a DC for.
An event may have happened after you had completed the assessment for one Unit but not the other. For example, you may have been OK early in the exam period but sick on the day of a later exam, or you may have had an undiagnosed disability that impacted a particular assessment or Unit in a particular way. You will need documentation to support what you are saying.
You will need to be able to explain how your extraordinary circumstances affected your study, with careful attention to specific assessments and dates. You need to help the faculty understand that it is not because you did not understand the subject matter or work hard at it, but that it was due to circumstances beyond your control.
Can I get my fees back?
Once the Census date for the semester has passed (31 March or 31 August, but different for Summer and Winter school and intensive subjects) you will be charged for the subjects you are enrolled in. However, you can apply for a HECS/fee refund if you were unable to reasonably attempt your studies due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control, that arose or got worse after these Census dates. You will need supporting documentation.
Domestic students can apply to the Student Centre for a remission of your HECS/HELP debt. You must apply within 12 months of the date you officially discontinued, or from the end of the relevant semester, whichever came first.
International students should read and complete the International Student Refund in Special Circumstances form, explaining the extraordinary circumstances that affected your study and attach supporting documentation.
HECS/Fee refunds requests and DC requests are separate processes. The SRC normally recommends that you apply for your fees back after you are successful with DC applications but it is up to you. Similar arguments and documentation are needed, but note that the dates are different.
Do you have supporting documentation?
Any application for a late DC or HECS/fee refund needs independent supporting documentation from a relevant medical practitioner, counsellor, or religious or community leader. Sometimes it may be appropriate to get a statutory declaration from a family member or friend, or to write one yourself.
Make sure you keep copies of these documents. You might need to use them again.
Make an appointment with an SRC caseworker if you need help with your application. Please bring a draft letter or timeline and all your paperwork to the appointment.
Faculty Specific Information
For Faculty specific processes and forms, visit:
All applications require a written statement outlining your circumstances, and independent supporting documentation.
Summer and Winter School
Contact the Summer School Office in the Institute Building or email:
Architecture, Design and Planning
Complete the Application for Discontinued Not to Count as Failure form and email, with statement and supporting documents, to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Arts and Social Sciences
Complete the Discontinued Not to Count as Failure form and email, with your written statement and supporting documents, to: email@example.com
Complete Application for a Grade of DC form and email, with your statement and supporting documents, to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Conservatorium of Music
Complete DC form and submit, with written statement and supporting documents, to the faculty.
Email your written statement and supporting documents to the Dean at: email@example.com.
Engineering and IT
Email your written statement and supporting documents to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Email your written statement and supporting documents to: email@example.com
Complete the Enrolment Variation Request form nd email, with your written statement and supporting documents, to the Associate Dean, Professional Law Programs at: firstname.lastname@example.org
DCs are uncommon. Talk to the Manager of the Medical Program Administration Unit.
Email your written statement and supporting documents to: email@example.com
Nursing & Midwifery
Complete Request for Variation of Enrolment form. Take this to an academic advisor for their approval. Do not use the Discontinuation of Study form. Email, with your written statement and supporting documents, to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Email your written statement and supporting documents to the Student Service Officer: email@example.com
Complete the Request for Faculty Discretion: Change of Grade DC form and email, with your written statement and supporting documents, to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sydney College of the Arts
Use a Special Consideration form to document the problem and submit your written statement and supporting documents to the faculty.
*Make sure you include any independent supporting documentation with your request
Information updated on 13th December, 2017. (DC)