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Progression Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) This policy explains how the University will identify students who are not making satisfactory progress. This policy provides a framework for bringing services and support to the attention of students to assist in their studies.

(2) All University coursework programs, including University programs taught by third parties, e.g. Western Sydney University - The College (The College), are covered by this policy.

(3) Where there are references only to the University, it includes Third-Party Providers who will act on behalf of the University. 

(4) This policy does not apply to programs with a significant research component, including end-on Bachelor (Honours) degrees, Research Masters degrees, or Doctorates.

(5) The Professional Entry Medical Programs have some specific progression rules. Refer to Clauses (50) – (54).

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Section 2 - Definitions

(6) For the purpose of this policy:

  1. At Risk means students have been identified as not progressing satisfactorily in their studies.
  2. At Risk – Improving means students have been identified as not progressing satisfactorily in their studies, however, their Grade Point Average (GPA) has improved since the previous progression check.
  3. Conditional Enrolment means the number of subjects in which a student may register is limited for a specified period.
  4. Confirmation of Enrolment (COE) means an official document issued to international students by universities in Australia when a student has accepted a place in a program and has paid their tuition fees and Overseas Student Health Cover. A COE is required to obtain a student visa in Australia.
  5. Early Intervention means mechanisms put in place to assist students in identifying their challenges and helping them to improve.
  6. Exclusion for Unsatisfactory Academic Progression means the student’s enrolment is cancelled. Students must apply for re-admission to the University through the normal channels.
  7. Good standing means progressing at a satisfactory rate in the program.
  8. Grade Point Average (GPA) means an average score of grades achieved based on a 7-point grading scale. Refer to the Graduation Policy.
  9. GPA Threshold means the minimum GPA a student must achieve in their program of study to demonstrate satisfactory performance. Progression checks will assess each students’ cumulative GPA gainst the GPA threshold for their program.
  10. International Student means a student who is neither an Australian citizen, New Zealand citizen, holder of Australian Permanent Resident Visa, nor holder of Humanitarian Visa (Refugee).
  11. Learning Management System (LMS) means the platform or system through which learning materials are distributed for subjects.
  12. Maximum Time means the longest time within which a student must complete all curriculum components to qualify for their enrolled program.
  13. Sanction means one of the following interventions: Conditional Enrolment, Suspension or Exclusion.
  14. Show Cause refers to the process where a student is given the opportunity to appeal an unsatisfactory progression outcome prior to the sanction being applied.
  15. Stage refers to one of the four identified progression stages under this policy to manage students’ unsatisfactory progress.
  16. Suspension means the student’s enrolment at the University is suspended for a specified period of time. The student has an automatic right to re-enrol in their original program, or a program that the University regards as being equivalent, at the end of the Suspension period.
  17. The College means Western Sydney University - The College.
  18. A Third-Party Provider means an organisation who delivers a program or subject on behalf of the University.
  19. University means Western Sydney University.
  20. Working days means normal business days, Monday to Friday through the year but excluding any gazetted public holidays and University declared closures.
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Section 3 - Policy Statement

(7) The University is committed to helping students to progress through their studies, complete their program and graduate.

(8) Students are expected to take responsibility for their learning and take steps to improve their progress. This includes making use of recommended support services and learning support.

(9) The University will not permit students to continue studying indefinitely when they are not making satisfactory progress. If a student’s progress is unsatisfactory, they face consequences such as restricted study loads, exclusion or direction into alternative study pathways.

(10) Students who experience extenuating circumstances, as defined by the Disruption to Studies Policy, that contribute to their unsatisfactory progress may have restrictions that have been applied under this policy reviewed. A review may lead to the interventions being changed or removed.

(11) Each student’s progress will be assessed periodically, and at the end of each term. The University's approach to managing students’ unsatisfactory progress for most programs has four stages:

  1. Stage 1 - Early Intervention;
  2. Stage 2 - Designated “At Risk”;
  3. Stage 3 - Conditional Enrolment;
  4. Stage 4 - Exclusion.

(12) The Progression Rules will determine which Stage applies to a student who is not making satisfactory performance, as outlined in Part A – Progression Stages.

(13) Progression checks for international students will be aligned to meet Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) requirements.

(14) Stage 1 Early Intervention aims to identify and assist students who are not making satisfactory progress in a program. Refer to the Curriculum Advice to Students Procedures.

(15) Checks on student academic progress after Stage 1 may take into account one or more of the following:

  1. the student’s GPA;
  2. the number of times the student has failed the same or equivalent subject;
  3. whether the student has achieved a Practicum Fail (refer to the Assessment Policy);
  4. The length of time the student has been enrolled in a program.

(16) The following outcomes are possible from these progression checks:

  1. Good Standing;
  2. The student is At Risk of being placed on Conditional Enrolment (or Exclusion, as outlined in Clauses (42)–(45));
  3. The student is At Risk – Improving since the previous progression check;
  4. The student is to be placed on Conditional Enrolment;
  5. The student is to be Excluded.

(17) A student identified as Good Standing, At Risk or At Risk – Improving will not have any sanctions applied.

(18) Students who have an outcome of Conditional Enrolment or Excluded are required to Show Cause as to why they should not be placed on Conditional Enrolment or Excluded.

(19) Students who are placed on Conditional Enrolment must obtain advice about their reduced study load from the relevant Director, Academic Program (DAP) or Academic Program Advisor (APA), or equivalent at a Third-Party Provider.

(20) Conditional Enrolment restrictions applicable for each program type are listed on the Progression rules webpage.

(21) Students who have been enrolled for fewer than two terms in a program will not be placed on Conditional Enrolment or Excluded, except as provided in Clause (22).

(22) A student who changes programs using the Program Transfer Policy will not normally be required to continue on Conditional Enrolment or be subject to progression checks based on their previous program enrolment. In cases of persistent unsatisfactory performance, the University may determine that a student will be placed on Conditional Enrolment in their new program.

(23) Where a sanction is not applied by the census date, the student will be permitted to complete any subjects in that term and any periods of Conditional Enrolment or exclusion may be applied after the end of the term.

(24) A student who has been placed on Conditional Enrolment but has approved Leave of Absence will be placed on Conditional Enrolment at the conclusion of their period of Leave of Absence.

(25) Suspension can be an outcome of a Show Cause application. It is not an outcome of a progression check.

(26) Students on Suspension will continue to have access to University support services.

(27) Periods of approved Leave of Absence are not counted in the progression checks on maximum length of time enrolment under this policy.

Progression Rules

GPA Thresholds

(28) At the end of each term, the progression check will assess each student’s cumulative GPA.

(29) A student who has achieved the GPA threshold for satisfactory performance will be considered Good Standing.

(30) A student who has not achieved the GPA threshold for satisfactory performance on their first progression check, will be considered At Risk.

(31) A student previously identified as At Risk and whose GPA has improved since the previous progression check, but still falls below the threshold for satisfactory performance, will be considered At Risk – Improving.

(32) A student previously identified as At Risk – Improving and whose GPA continues to improve will continue to be considered At Risk – Improving until they achieve the GPA threshold for satisfactory performance.

(33) A student previously identified as At Risk – Improving and whose GPA has not improved since the previous progression check will be considered At Risk. 

(34) A student previously identified as At Risk and whose GPA has not improved since the previous progression check will be required to Show Cause as to why they should not be placed on Conditional Enrolment.

(35) A student previously on Conditional Enrolment and whose GPA has fallen below the threshold for Exclusion will be required to Show Cause as to why they should not be Excluded.

(36) A student on Conditional Enrolment and whose GPA has improved, but is still below the threshold, will be identified as At Risk.

(37) A student on Conditional Enrolment and whose GPA has improved and is above the threshold will be considered as Good Standing.

(38) A student who has achieved a GPA less than 5.0 in a Foundation Studies program will be required to Show Cause as to why they should not be Excluded.

(39) A student who has achieved a GPA less than the published GPA required for an Advanced or Dean’s Scholars program will be required to Show Cause as to why they should not be transferred to the relevant standard program. Refer to the Online Handbook.

Failing the Same or Equivalent Subject Multiple Times

(40) At the end of each term, progression checks will assess how many times a student has failed the same or equivalent subject.

(41) If the student has failed the same or equivalent subject twice, the student will be considered At Risk of Exclusion.

(42) If the student has failed the same or equivalent subject three times, the student will be required to Show Cause as to why they should not be Excluded.

Practicum Fail

(43) A student who has achieved a Practicum Fail is required to Show Cause as to why they should not be Excluded. Refer to the Assessment Policy.

Maximum Length of Enrolment

(44) Students are required to complete their program within a reasonable time. The maximum time to complete a program will be one and a half times the minimum time a part-time student enrolled in standard terms would need to complete the program. For example, the maximum time for a three-year Bachelor degree will be nine years and the maximum time for a one-year program will be three years.

(45) A student who has exceeded the maximum length of enrolment will be required to Show Cause as to how they will complete their award within the next one year, or they will be Excluded for two years. The maximum length of enrolment will not be automatically extended for students who have had results removed due to successful Withdrawal Without Academic Penalty applications. Refer to the Enrolment Policy.

(46) If a student transfers from one program to another under the provisions of the Program Transfer Policy, or if their program is discontinued by the University, and the new program is considered equivalent to their original program, the maximum time for completion of the second program will be the period specified in this policy less the time the student has been enrolled in the first program, when the second program is considered equivalent to the first program.

(47) Refer to the Professional Entry Medical Programs section below for provisions relating to the maximum length of enrolment for those programs.

International Students

(48) If the progression check identifies an international student who is not likely to complete their program of study with the timeframe stipulated in their COE, they will be considered At Risk of completion in minimum time.

Show Cause

(49) Students may apply to Show Cause as to why they should not be placed on Conditional Enrolment, or Excluded, for unsatisfactory progression, on the following grounds:

  1. misadventure and extenuating circumstances, as defined under the Disruption to Studies Policy; or
  2. procedural unfairness.

Professional Entry Medical Program

(50) The Progression Rules, against which students enrolled in the Professional Entry Medical Program are assessed, are as follows:

  1. In Years 1 - 4 of the Professional Entry Medical Program, the subject of study in each year must be successfully completed before a student is able to progress to the next year;
  2. In Year 5 of the Professional Entry Medical Program, the core subject in the first half year term must be successfully completed before progression; and,
  3. In Year 5 of the Professional Entry Medical Program, the core subject in the second half year term must be successfully completed before graduation.

(51) The assessment of academic performance will apply these Progression Rules, and the following outcomes are possible:

  1. Failing to successfully complete a subject in each of years 1 – 4:
    1. Students who fail a subject in any one year will be clearly advised that they are At Risk of Exclusion and will be required to repeat the failed subject in their next year of study.
  2. For Years 1 - 5:
    1. Students who fail the same subject after two attempts will be required to Show Cause as to why they should not be Excluded from this program for unsatisfactory progression;
    2. In Year 5, students who fail the assessment at the end of the core subject in the first half year term will be required to undertake a specified alternate subject.

(52) A student who is Excluded from the Professional Entry Medical Program for unsatisfactory progression may transfer to another program at the University with the permission of the relevant Deans.

(53) The maximum length of enrolment for the Professional Entry Medical Program is eight consecutive calendar years, recognising that those programs are not available in part-time mode.

(54) Periods of approved Leave of Absence are counted in the calculation of maximum time for the Professional Entry Medical Programs.

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Section 4 - Procedures

(55) The timing of the formal progression checks will depend on the duration of the program the student is enrolled in and the student’s study pattern, allowing for students to adapt to the demands of higher education.

(56) Progression checks will recognise that programs are offered in more than one type of term.

(57) Some short programs will not implement all of the progression stages. The stages used for each type of program are published on the Progression rules webpage.

(58) Student progression for Stages 2 to 4 will usually be assessed following the formal examinations and results processing at the end of the relevant terms.

(59) Student progression may be assessed to take account of late finalisation of grades. In these situations, the University may retrospectively impose sanctions on the student. The Chief Student and University Planning Officer has the authority to determine whether interventions will be applied retrospectively.

(60) Students may continue in their program pending the outcome of their Show Cause case. Only fully completed subjects during this period will be applied to their student record.

Part A - Progression Stages

(61) Students will be notified via their University email address of the outcome of a Progression Check when the outcome is any of the following:

  1. At Risk or At Risk – Improving;
  2. Conditional Enrolment;
  3. Excluded.

(62) A record of any notification to students in relation to their progression, including documenting of an individual intervention strategy for a student and any invitation to attend a forum (to guide students towards appropriate academic advice and support services, including counselling and learning support), will be maintained on the student’s official record as per the Records and Archives Management Policy.

Stage 1 – Early Intervention

(63) Early Intervention will be initiated by nominated teaching staff responsible for the teaching of students in their programs and subjects.

(64) Schools/Third-Party Providers will make arrangements for contacting students who:

  1. did not submit, or failed, in the first assignment; and/or
  2. did not attend tutorials/classes; and/or
  3. did not access learning materials on the LMS.

(65) Schools/Third-Party Providers will provide these students with academic advice, information about the resources that are available to help students, and will advise students about the consequences of continued unsatisfactory progression.

(66) Refer to the Curriculum Advice to Students Procedures.

Stage 2 – At Risk

(67) Students designated as At Risk, or At Risk – Improving:

  1. will receive notification informing them of their At Risk status and the consequences of continued unsatisfactory progression; and
  2. be provided with information and may be invited to attend a forum that will guide students towards appropriate academic advice and support services, including counselling and learning support.

(68) A student’s lack of attendance at a forum, engagement with support services provided by the University and their response to actions recommended by the University, may be taken into account if they have to Show Cause or submit a progression appeal on a later occasion.

Stage 3 – Conditional Enrolment

(69) Conditional Enrolment will only be applied if a student does not submit a Show Cause application, or a Show Cause application has been dismissed. 

(70) Students who have been placed on Conditional Enrolment will:

  1. receive notification informing them of their Conditional Enrolment status and the consequences of unsatisfactory performance;
  2. be required to seek academic advice recorded in writing from the nominated academic advisor;
  3. be provided with information and may be invited to attend a forum that will guide students towards ongoing appropriate academic advice and support services, including counselling and learning support.

(71) A student’s lack of attendance at a forum, engagement with support services provided by the University and their response to actions recommended by the University, may be taken into account if they have to Show Cause on a later occasion.

Stage 4 – Exclusion

(72) Exclusion will only be applied if a student does not submit a Show Cause application, or their Show Cause application has been dismissed. 

(73) Students who have been Excluded will receive notification informing them of their Exclusion and any external avenues of appeal available to them.

(74) International students who are Excluded will have their CoE cancelled and they will be notifed to seek advice from the Department of Home Affairs for the potential impact on their student visa.

Part B - Show Cause

(75) Students may apply to Show Cause as to why they should not be placed on Conditional Enrolment, or Excluded for unsatisfactory progression, on the grounds as outlined in the section of Show Clause in Part A of this policy.

(76) A Show Cause application must be in writing and submitted via the approved University systems and clearly state the grounds for the application. Applications should also include appropriate supporting documentation, as outlined on the University's website, to substantiate the applicant’s claims. 

(77) Where students have been asked to take part in forums or engage with support services provided by the University, as referred to earlier in this policy, the application should explain the extent to which they have taken part in these activities. This should include the actions the student has taken as a result of recommendations made by any support service or academic progress plan agreed to with the relevant School.

(78) A Show Cause application should explain how the student’s circumstances have changed, or will change, so that in future they will be able to make satisfactory progress.

(79) As the Show Cause is a written application to the University, students will not be required appear in person to support their application, although this can be arranged on request. The student may bring a support person to any arranged meeting.  

(80) Students will be provided 20 working days to submit their Show Cause application.

(81) Show Cause applications are assessed by an individual selected from the following Show Cause panel:

  1. Chair, Academic Senate;
  2. Deputy Chair, Academic Senate;
  3. Pro Vice-Chancellor, Learning Futures or nominee.

(82) An individual panel member from the Show Cause panel may determine on behalf of the Academic Senate to determine to uphold the Show Cause if there are clear and significant grounds to do so.

(83) If a panel member believes that there are no valid grounds on which to uphold a Show Cause, and that they will, on behalf of Academic Senate, dismiss the Show Cause application, a second panel member’s determination will be sought prior to dismissal. If both panel members disagree on the outcome, the third panel member will be consulted.

(84) Show Cause applications lodged outside the timeframe stated in the notification will not be considered.

(85) Any member who has previously been involved with the assessment of a particular case before the panel will excuse themselves from the panel for the duration of that case.

(86) Students will be provided with a written statement of the outcome of the Show Cause application, including detailed reasons that formed the basis of the decision. 

(87) The outcome of a Show Cause for Conditional Enrolment may be:

  1. Uphold the Show Cause and lift the Conditional Enrolment so that the student may study an unrestricted load; 
  2. Uphold the Show Cause and reduce the period of Conditional Enrolment; or
  3. Dismiss the Show Cause and apply the period of Conditional Enrolment.

(88) The outcome of a Show Cause for Exclusion may be:

  1. Uphold the Show Cause and remove the period of Exclusion;
  2. Uphold the Show Cause and reduce the period of Exclusion;
  3. Uphold the Show Cause and replace the period of Exclusion with a period of Suspension;
  4. Uphold the Show Cause, so that the student remains on Conditional Enrolment;
  5. Dismiss the Show Cause and the original Exclusion applies.

(89) A Show Cause may be upheld unconditionally or subject to one or more of the following conditions:

  1. The student transfers to another specified program at the University;
  2. The student uses an approved exit point to complete an appropriate alternate credential;
  3. The student changes to another specified major in their current program;
  4. The student registers in one or more specified subjects at the University.

(90) The panel may give advice to the student about strategies for improving their academic performance, including but not limited to, making use of support services, such as counselling and learning support.

(91) Where a Show Cause is upheld after the standard date for the addition of subjects or commencement of studies, and the student has not continued their studies pending the outcome, the student may not be permitted to register in or take additional subjects in that term.

(92) Students who do not submit a Show Cause application cannot subsequently appeal a progression outcome to the University. Students will be notified of any external avenues of appeal available to them.

(93) Late or non-receipt of official letters from the University will not be accepted as grounds to Show Cause, if the student has not ensured that the University is in receipt of accurate and current contact details.

Part C - Appeals Against Show Cause Outcomes

(94) There is no internal avenue of appeal against Show Cause outcomes. Students will be advised within 10 working days of the finalisation of their Show Cause application of any external avenues of appeal available to them, including any contact details of the appropriate external body. 

Part D - Status of Students Awaiting the Outcome of a Show Cause or Appeal

(95) The University will commence assessment of the Show Cause application within 10 working days of it being made, in accordance with this policy, and will finalise the outcome as soon as practicable.

(96) Students may apply to continue their studies pending the outcome of their Show Cause case or appeal. The Office of Student and University Planning will determine the enrolment status on a case-by-case basis should the matter not be resolved by the census date.

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Section 5 - Guidelines

(97) Conditional Enrolment restrictions applicable for each program type are published on the Progression rules webpage.

(98) Show Cause applications should clearly state the grounds as to why a progression sanction should not be applied. Students must include documentary evidence (medical certificate, academic progression plan, etc.) as evidence to Show Cause why the progression sanction should not apply. Refer to the Supporting Documentation webpage.

(99) Curriculum Advice to Students Procedures.