Missed Australian Census date
May 16, 2008 8:01 PM   Subscribe

I have missed my (Australian) university's census date. Am I screwed?

Without getting into the details too much, I've been having a rough time over the last few months, and decided that enough was enough and that I needed to leave university. I spoke with the head of my department weeks ago and informed her I was dropping out, and have spent the time since then locked in my house feeling miserable (I mention this by way of explaining my lack of organisation - I am booked to start seeing a psychiatrist to deal with my depression).

This morning I realised that my census date was yesterday, meaning that I now must pay for the entire year even though I will be leaving. I'm doubtful I can do anything about it now, but in desperation I am asking Mefi in the hopes that someone may have any suggestions. Knowing I've managed to add $4000 debt to everything else that's gone wrong this year is not helping my state of mind, and knowing that I either have to accept it or that I may have other options would make me feel a lot better.
posted by anonymous to Education (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know about Australia, unfortunately. But in the U.S. I suspect that there would be some kind of mental health exception/flexibility, particularly if you have a psychiatrist who will vouch for the fact that you are clinically depressed.

It is also possible that the bursar's office will have a sympathetic employee who would be willing to bend the rules for you, if you talk to them ASAP.

In the worst case scenario, maybe you could negotiate paying only a portion of the $4000...or having it apply towards a future year in the university. You could say (if this is true) that you were under the belief that talking to your department head was sufficient notification to the university and only realized now that there was this census date to worry about.

Good luck!
posted by monkey85 at 8:51 PM on May 16, 2008

Talk the the dean of the relevant school. They can do anything with the wave of a pen. I remember being at uni, completely failing to grasp the bureaucracy, wanting to do something that "couldn't be done" (changing from one double degree to another mid-year for no real reason) and, being too clueless to realise it was impossible, simply rocking up to the dean's office and asking. Scribbled letter on uni letterhead, all sorted. A doctor's certificate might help.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:09 PM on May 16, 2008

Don't try to deal with the beaurocrats. I had university nightmares last year and every official person I talked to said it was impossible, no way it can be done, I just have to suck it up and deal with it (delaying graduation for a year, in my case).

In the end, I spoke with people in my department and they sorted it out. Do it ASAP, talk to whoever you can (is there anyone you're close to, any one you know well?), and just lay it out in human terms. It's ridiculous to add that much to HECS just because of a single day, and I'm sure a few people there will understand this.
posted by twirlypen at 10:35 PM on May 16, 2008

The head of department will be able to help you, as she knew of your plans and would have more clout. I've found that in Australia they can sometimes be quite flexible.
posted by divabat at 11:03 PM on May 16, 2008

Nthing the above advice. Talk to your departmental head, or, if you have one, the Dean of Students. Do it on Monday, or at least make an appointment to see someone on Monday. Things can be done, but you must act quickly.
posted by Wolof at 12:50 AM on May 17, 2008

Also talk to your student union and/or student services. In very rare cases, this can be corrected, but it's entirely possible that the admin staff you first deal with, will have been told that it is impossible to change this, and be less than helpful. It's really important to get a student advocate and the student union is used to dealing with this. Be prepared to contact your head of department for a letter on letterhead confirming that you intended to withdraw weeks ago, and to produce a letter from your psychiatrist saying that you were unable to deal with issues, or keep track of time. It's possible your university has an Equity office or something similar, and they can let you know what hoops you need to jump through. Again, I stress, if you're talking to admissions, or the administrative officers in your department, they may believe that you can not fix this problem. Go to people who's job it is to help.

(ex admin officer of four different departments of two Qld universities, studying at a third)
posted by b33j at 1:00 AM on May 17, 2008

If your university is Latrobe (and Latrobe has the right census date) then you definitely want to contact Equity and/or Student Services including personal counselling. Latrobes rules specificially state that telling your faculty verbally does not constitute withdrawal.
posted by b33j at 1:13 AM on May 17, 2008

I'd go back to the head of department and discuss the fact that you didn't realise you had to do something so official to leave. You are essentially asking for a favour, but the head of department is the right person to work through it with you. I agree with other posters that the admin people will just say 'no', you need the academic guys to flex their muscles and see what they can get done (they can usually work on the admin people for you).
posted by ranglin at 6:39 PM on May 17, 2008

follow-up from the OP
In the event that the same thing happens to someone else and they are searching through the archives, I wanted to post a follow-up comment letting people know that it is possible to apply for a refund of HECS fees. There's a form available through student services, and at my school it's called an "Application for Remission or Refund in Special Circumstances". You are required to give details about your situation, and supply medical certificates/appropriate documentation if it is possible to do so. From what the Student Advocacy office tells me, this is standard in Australian universities.

As far as incurring academic penalties (the other aspect of missing the census date that really sucks) - this seemed to be at the discretion of my H.O.D, who was quite willing to sort that out for me herself. Obviously I can't say how that works at other universities, but the Student Union was very helpful and should be anyone's first stop should they find themselves in my position.
posted by jessamyn at 6:53 AM on May 28, 2008

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