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(Stage 3 Academic Progression)

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, and would like you to explain to them how you are going to pass all of your subjects in the future. 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.

Before starting your letter

Reflect on what changes you need, to pass all of your subjects and complete your degree. If you are in the wrong course consider other study options (other courses at this University, courses at other Universities, TAFEs, or colleges); work opportunities; or other activities. You can ask permission to discontinue the degree and not be excluded, as an exclusion will make it more difficult to get into some courses. Note that discontinuing your degree is a permanent thing where you will not be able to return to that degree.

If you need time off, consider suspending your studies or reducing your study load for a semester or two. Explain how this will improve your ability to pass. It is better to enrol in 3 Units and pass them all than enrol in 4 and fail 2. If you are on a Centrelink payment or a study visa, talk to an SRC Caseworker before reducing your study load.

Your letter

Your Show Good Cause letter is composed of two main sections – problems and solutions. Write about the entire time you have been studying, not just last semester. 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. The Faculty wants to know about your study rather than your life events; so keep making links back to the study.


Briefly outline the things that caused you to fail. Explain how they affected your ability to study at different times and in different subjects. For example, 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 is resolved is not enough. Explain what action you are taking to get relevant help and how it will not cause you to fail again. In addition, explain what other solutions are going to help you achieve the best marks possible. This includes better time management, study skills, a degree plan), and an understanding of the University’s processes, including Special Consideration, Discontinue Not Fail, and a reduced study load. Avoid general statements like, “I will try harder”, or “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 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”.


If possible attach evidence or 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 or Student Declaration that affirms that what you have said is true. If 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.

Your draft letter

If you would like an SRC Caseworker to suggest changes to your letter, send a Word document (not PDF or body of an email) to It would also be helpful if you also send a screenshot of your academic transcript (entire degree not just this semester) and any documents of proof. As this is a very busy period, it may take up to three working days to get a response, so please send your draft well before the deadline.


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, and you will have the chance to appeal. 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).


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 want a clear argument about why you can pass. 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 you would like to reduce or suspend your study load you will need permission from your Faculty. Call 9660 5222 to book an appointment with a migration solicitor to check you are meeting visa conditions.

Centrelink payment

If you are currently receiving a Centrelink payment, talk to an SRC Caseworker about the possible impact of reducing your study load.


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, including what help you are now getting.
  • 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 28.01.21 (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.