IMPORTANT: Deadlines for Show Good Cause and Exclusion are not negotiable. Please do not ignore them, as this will most likely lead to automatic exclusion. Talk to SRC caseworkers if you’d like help with your letter or if you have missed a deadline.

If you have been asked to Show Good Cause it is because the University is concerned you may not be able to complete your degree. They need you to explain to them how you are going to pass all of your subjects in the future. With this in mind, if you do not make significant changes to how you approach your studies, the University will reasonably assume that you will most likely continue to fail subjects.

Help that the SRC can provide

SRC Caseworkers are happy to help you with your Show Good Cause letter. You can call 9660 5222 to make an appointment or come to a drop in session on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 1pm and 3pm. Please bring a copy of your academic record (screenshot from Sydney Student), and a draft letter based on the SRC letter template (see below).

If you already have a well developed draft that follows the principles in this leaflet and you would like an SRC Caseworker to make suggested changes, send the draft letter in Word format (not as the body of an email and not as a PDF) together with the documents of proof (e.g., doctor’s certificate, letter from counsellor, police report, record of future appointment, daily timetable, semester planner, degree planner, etc.) to It may take up to three working days to get a response, so please send your draft well before the deadline.

Your letter

Your show cause letter is composed of two main sections – problems and solutions. Write about the entire time you have been studying. If you have been asked to Show Good Cause before, you should talk about the problems you faced then, the solutions you proposed then, and why they did not work. If there were semesters when you passed all of your subjects, briefly outline what was different at that time. Your letter is your formal response to the faculty. It is a serious reply to a serious situation. Use the template that we have provided and SRC Caseworkers can make suggested changes to your draft letter.


Outline the things that were difficult for you and which affected your study. The University does not need to know every detail of every situation. Explain the basics of each problem so they understand what you experienced. Explain how the problems you encountered affected your ability to study. Some examples include being unable to attend classes, not being able to concentrate in class, being very tired, missing deadlines, etc.


This is by far the most important part of your letter. If you do not have plausible solutions it is likely that you will continue failing. Clearly link your solutions to the problems you have faced in the past or may face in the future. Saying that a problem has finished is not enough. Explain why you would not fail if it were to happen again. There are many examples of solutions that are available to students. Use whatever you think will best work for you. There are some things that every student could benefit from. This includes time management (see online module from the Learning Centre), study skills (see workshops and online resources from the Learning Centre), a plan to complete your degree (e.g., outline the Units you will complete for each remaining semester), and an understanding of the University’s processes (special consideration, discontinue not fail, reduced study load). You will need to provide proof of these solutions. Be clear and specific. Avoid general statements (e.g., “I will use the Learning Centre to improve my studies”). Be specific, e.g., I am enrolled in the Note Taking workshop on 1st March; or I have completed the Learning Centre’s online time management module. Explain why this is helpful, e.g., this will help me to complete essays before the due date, and gain better assessment marks”.


You must attach proof of your problems and solutions. Remember that it is your point of view that is important. For example, if you missed classes because your mother was sick, you might need a doctor’s certificate to show not only that your mother was sick, but also you were her primary carer. Proof might include documents such as doctor’s certificates, psychologist letters, police reports, or a study timetable. If you have no other proof you might want to include a statutory declaration that affirms that what you have said is true. This is usually not seen as a very strong document of proof, so where possible also get one from someone who knows about your situation, (e.g., parent, grandparent, or friend’s parent). Remember they can only talk about what they have observed or heard you say. They cannot talk about what you were feeling, because this is not something they experienced.


If you are successful in your Show Good Cause process you will be permitted to continue studying, sometimes with conditions. This is why it is important that you keep attending class throughout the appeal process. If you are not successful in your Show Good Cause appeal the Faculty will exclude you. You will then have the chance to appeal your Exclusion. If you are unsuccessful with that appeal, and you can show that the Faculty has not sufficiently considered your submission, you may have the chance to appeal your Exclusion to the Student Appeals Body (SAB). See the SRC leaflet on this.


If you do not provide a Show Good Cause letter by the deadline the Faculty will exclude you. It is sometimes possible to ask for an extension. Talk to an SRC caseworker about your options.


There is no set length for a show cause letter. If your letter is only half a page it’s unlikely you’ve included enough information to make a strong case to the faculty. The average Show Good Cause letter is around two to three pages.

Other considerations

Chances of success

There is no formula or ratio for calculating show cause success rates. Your faculty is not actively seeking to exclude students. They consider every individual case on its merits, which is why your letter is so important.

Attending class

You must continue attending class. If you are successful in your Show Good Cause letter you will continue with the rest of the semester as normal.

International students

If you are an international student and one of your solutions is to reduce or suspend your study load you will need to get permission from your faculty. You will also need to check with the conditions of your visa. Call 9660 5222 to book with a migration solicitor.

Centrelink payment

If you are currently receiving a Centrelink payment, and one of your solutions is to reduce your study load ask an SRC caseworker about the possible impact on your Centrelink payment.


The University of Sydney NSW 2006

Dear Faculty,

I write to Show Good Cause as to why I should be allowed to continue studying a Bachelor of < … >. I have outlined below the difficulties I have faced since beginning my university studies, and the solutions I am using to ensure that I will successfully complete my degree.

In this section:

  • Explain the problems you have faced and how they affected your ability to study. Do so for each semester (or if relevant Unit) of study.
  • Outline the evidence of these problems and any attempts to made to deal with these problems over time, as attached

In this section:

  • Explain how your circumstances have changed so that you can now pass your Units.
  • Explain the solutions that you have started using, to ensure that you will successfully complete your degree
  • Outline any additional study skills that you will use throughout the rest of your degree
  • Outline the evidence of these solutions, as attached
  • Explain why you have a commitment to the course, and what you will do with the degree when you are finished

Yours sincerely,

Information updated on 20.04.20 (SGC)

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.