Student support services

Special Circumstances

Special Circumstances is a program that takes into account serious events beyond your control that occurred after the Census date, affecting your ability to continue with your studies.

These can include any of the following:

Special Circumstances does not cover an inability to repay student loans. If you would like to find out more about repaying your FEE-HELP debt please visit the Study Assist website.

Before you apply for Special Circumstances

To be eligible to apply for Special Circumstances:

You must be able to provide independent evidence that you would have been unable to successfully complete your studies



If you are unable to withdraw from your unit(s) by the last date to withdraw (see Key Dates for the Census date of your study term), you will be required to wait for a final grade before commencing your Special Circumstances application. Your final grade should be reflected on your enrolment history by Week 7 of the following study term.

Learn more about withdrawing from a unit.

Which costs can be waived or removed due to Special Circumstances?

You must make your application for Special Circumstances within 12 months of your withdrawal or 12 months from the last day of the study term in which you were enrolled (whichever date is earliest).

How do I apply for Special Circumstances?

There are two ways to apply for Special Circumstances:

  1. Withdraw from your unit(s) prior to the Census date or the last day to withdraw (see Key Dates for the Census date of your study term). If you were successful in withdrawing prior to the Census date, you will not be required to apply for Special Circumstances (as you would not have incurred a FEE-HELP debt). If your withdrawal takes place after the Census date, but before the last day to withdraw, you can then complete your Special Circumstances application below.
  2. If you are unable to withdraw from your unit(s) by the last date to withdraw (see Key Dates for the Census date of your study term), please wait for your final grade (usually Week 7 of the following study term). Once you've received the final grade for your unit(s), you can apply for Special Circumstances below.

Submit an online application*

Before you apply online, take a look at our frequently asked questions document below:

Special Circumstances frequently asked questions (PDF, 1.23 MB)

Once you've had a look through, or if you're ready to apply right now, click on the button below:

Apply online

The OUA Professional Authority form (below) may be of assistance if you require supporting documentation from a healthcare professional (a doctor, counsellor, etc).

Professional Authority Form (PDF, 35 KB)

* This application is for FEE-HELP students and students who have paid for their studies up front. Commonwealth supported place students (including HECS-HELP), must contact their course provider using the details at the bottom of the page.


Please note: To request a PDF version of the Special Circumstances form, please email Special Circumstances at OUA.

How your application is assessed

Every Special Circumstances application (excluding applications by Commonwealth supported students, which are sent directly to the course provider) is formally investigated by OUA and/or your unit provider, depending on the nature of your application.

OUA will assess Special Circumstances applications for refund of unit fees and re-credit of FEE-HELP. Most application outcomes will be issued within 40 working days. However, please be aware that some cases may take longer to resolve.

If you are applying for an approval of withdrawal without academic penalty, the provider university will determine the result and advise yourself and OUA of the outcome of your application in accordance with the university's policy.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of our internal review, you can appeal in writing (with supporting documentation) within 28 days of receiving OUA's written advice. An OUA senior officer will review the case afresh and provide advice within 14 days.

If you are again unsuccessful, disputes relating to re-credit of FEE-HELP may be taken to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, while disputes relating to refund of unit fees can be reviewed by an External Review Officer (i.e. a person chosen by, but independent of OUA) on request.

How do I apply for Special Circumstances as a Commonwealth supported student?

If you are studing in a Commonwealth supported place (CSP), including HECS-HELP, you will need to contact your course provider.

Commonwealth supported place Special Circumstances contacts
Curtin University

Student Administration & Fees, Student Central

Tel: +61 8 9266 3500
Web: Refunds & Remission of Fees

Griffith University

General Enquiries

Tel: (07) 338 21999 / 1800 802 041
Web: Information about withdrawal with special circumstances for CSP students

La Trobe University

Fees, Financial Aid & Government Reporting Office

Tel: +61 (03) 9479 2314
Web: Refunds and remissions of debt

Macquarie University
Murdoch University

Student Life and Learning

Tel: 1300 MURDOCH (1300 687 362)
Online enquiry: Ask a question
Web: Guidelines for retrospective withdrawal, and remission and re-crediting of SLE, HELP and tuition fees

RMIT University

Assessment Support Unit

Tel: +61 3 9925 5000
Web: Application for remission of debt in special circumstances (PDF)

Swinburne University

Current and past Swinburne students

Tel: +61 3 9214 4315
Online enquiry:
Web: Application for post-census remission of debt in special circumstances

University of South Australia

Student Finance and Enrolment team
(part of Student and Academic Services)

Tel: +61 8 8302 1112
Web: Amendment to enrolment and fees due to special circumstances