DISCONTINUE NOT FAIL (DC): 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 discontinuing online by the DC deadline, or later because of reasons beyond your control.

Why is a DC better than other marks?

A DC indicates that you could not complete the Unit; unlike a Fail (FA), 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 will not 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. [Note: A grade of Discontinue Fail is not counted towards your uni WAM, but is counted for progression, and may be counted for faculty or honours WAM].

What are the deadlines?

If you cease to be enrolled by the HECS census date (semester 1: March 31st and semester 2: August 31st) you receive Withdrawn for that unit.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 will need to apply for a fee refund. If you discontinue after the Census date, but before the DC deadline, you will automatically have a DC recorded. No documents or reasons are needed, but HECS/fees are still payable.

Students receiving Youth Allowance, Austudy or Abstudy, may cease to be eligible for this payment, if they drop to a part time study load.

International students need permission from the Uni to reduce your study load below 24 credit points, due to visa restrictions.

Applying for DCs after the deadline

You can apply to your faculty for a DC after the DC 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 you would be successful in the unit, but it was not until after the DC deadline that your situation worsened and you were no longer able to complete the unit. 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. It is unlikely that applying for a DC after results are released, would be successful.

Factors to think about

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.

Why couldn’t you discontinue before the DC deadline?

You must be able to demonstrate that is was not possible, or reasonable for you to discontinue before the deadline. 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 after the deadline. Sometimes students are so affected (e.g., 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.

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, 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; or perhaps the types of assessments were different in those units.

Can I get my fees back?

You can apply for a HECS/fee refund, and will need to provide supporting documentation. You must apply within 12 months of the date you officially discontinued, or from the end of the relevant semester, whichever came first.

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. If you are unable to get these documents due to COVID-19, you may be able to provide a student declaration, however, use this as a last resort.

Faculty Specific Information

For details on how to apply go to the Uni’s Discontinue a Unit page and look for your faculty’s information.


Information updated on 20th April, 2020. (DC)

Important Notice and Disclaimer: This information does not constitute legal advice. Seek qualified professional advice before making decisions about educational, financial, migration or legal matters. This information can change from time to time. Check for the most up to date information.