Manual of Policies and Procedures

E/3.2 Fitness to study

Contact Officer

Director, Office of the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar

Approval Date

10/01/2018

Approval Authority

Vice-Chancellor and President

Date of Next Review

01/01/2019

3.2.1 Purpose
3.2.2 Application
3.2.3 Roles and responsibilities
3.2.4 Principles
3.2.5 Unfit to study
3.2.6 Identifying at risk behaviour
3.2.7 Addressing fitness to study issues
3.2.8 Fitness to study determination
3.2.9 Denial of access
3.2.10 Mandatory leave
3.2.11 Misconduct procedures
3.2.12 Appeal
3.2.13 Mandatory notifications
3.2.14 Breach of conditions
3.2.15 Recordkeeping and reporting
3.2.16 Definitions
3.2.17 Delegations
Related Documents
Modification History

3.2.1 Purpose

The University is committed to supporting student wellbeing and recognises that there may be times when a student's behaviour may give rise to concerns about their fitness to engage with studies and/or to function more widely as a member of the University community. QUT aims to support the needs of students with health or disability related conditions and will make reasonable adjustments to studies, while maintaining the academic and conduct standards of the University.

The focus of this policy is on early intervention, providing coordinated support to students and staff, and providing fair avenues for students with health and/or disability related conditions to suspend studies where necessary.

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3.2.2 Application

This policy applies to students and prospective students while undertaking university sanctioned activities, as and when issues arise.

The Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar will determine whether this policy or another University policy or procedure applies to a specific student matter where there is any doubt.

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3.2.3 Roles and responsibilities

Position
Responsibility

Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar

  • makes a determination under this policy about a student's fitness to study and may impose conditions on a student's return to study or admission to a course
  • approves procedures under this policy including guidance and training for key staff
Head of School or research team leader (or equivalent)
  • receives reports about a student’s behaviour where there is a concern about the student’s fitness to study and refers the matter to the local case coordinator (or Executive Dean, Director of QUT International College or Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research and Development) where a case coordinator has not been appointed)
Case coordinator (in Faculty or relevant academic area)
  • coordinates the provision of support to students where fitness to study concerns have been raised
  • keeps a record of actions taken

Executive Dean of Faculty, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research and Development) and Director, QUT International College (QUTIC)

  • refers a student to the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar where there is a serious concern about a student’s fitness to study
  • nominates a case coordinator
Chair, Student Misconduct Committee
  • refers a student subject to misconduct proceedings to the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar where there is a serious concern about the student’s fitness to study
Fitness to study advisory  group
  • provides advice to case coordinator on managing a student’s fitness to study
  • provides advice on managing and supporting a student with at risk behaviour
Fitness to study panel
  • makes a recommendation to the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar on a student’s fitness to study

Appeals Committee

  • determines appeals by students where mandatory leave, suspension or other conditions have been imposed by the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar under this policy

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3.2.4 Principles

All matters managed under this policy will consider the individual circumstances of the case.

The policy is to be applied in a supportive way and the University will:

  • respect the rights of the student, including dealing with concerns in a confidential manner
  • inform and consult where possible with the student about decisions that may affect them, including that the University is invoking this policy and use appropriate methods of communication, taking into account the individual circumstances
  • entitle students to be accompanied or represented by a support person
  • take into account the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and/or the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2017.

Where a student is unable or unwilling to cooperate with management or support under this policy, it may be necessary for the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar to make a determination without input from the student.

If a student who is subject to this policy chooses to involve an external complaint resolution agency the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar will determine whether or not internal proceedings will be suspended or cease.

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3.2.5 Unfit to study

A student may be considered unfit for study when their behaviour constitutes one or more of the following:

  • poses a risk to their own health, safety and/or wellbeing and/or that of others
  • is (or is at risk of) adversely affecting the teaching, learning and/or experience of other students
  • is (or is at risk of) adversely affecting the day-to-day activities of the University, its staff, a placement provider, partner institution or a work integrated learning activity
  • is of such a nature that it prevents the person from successfully completing the course, unit, work integrated learning activity or research currently enrolled in or applied for; or
  • requires support beyond the services which the University can reasonably be expected to provide either directly or indirectly.

This policy only applies where there is a reasonable belief that such behaviour is related to a health or disability related condition.

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3.2.6 Identifying at risk behaviour

Any person who considers that a student’s behaviour represents grounds for concern about their fitness to study must report this to the relevant Head of School or research team leader. Where there is a reasonable belief that the student is unfit to study (E/3.2.5), the matter will be referred to the case coordinator (or Executive Dean, Director, QUT International College or Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research and Development)) otherwise the matter may be managed according to another appropriate policy or procedure.

The Chair, Student Misconduct Committee, may refer a matter to the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar if, during consideration of an allegation of student misconduct, there is reasonable belief that the behaviour may be related to a student’s health or disability related condition.

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3.2.7 Addressing fitness to study issues

a) Initial response

Where there are reasonable grounds for concern about a student’s fitness to study the Executive Dean, Director, QUT International College or the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research and Development) will nominate an appropriate case coordinator.

The Case coordinator will:

  • make contact with the student at the earliest opportunity
  • consider the student’s perception of their alleged behaviour, and the response of the student to any steps taken by the University to manage the situation
  • invite the student to present further relevant information, such as medical or other professional reports  
  • identify the risks presented by the behaviour to the student and/or wellbeing of the student and others; and
  • take advice from the Fitness to study advisory group.

b) Management and support

Where there is a risk that the student may be unfit to study, the case coordinator will engage with the Fitness to study advisory group and will coordinate one or more of the following:

  • no further action
  • referral under an appropriate alternative University policy or procedure
  • referral to appropriate additional support service - e.g. Health Service, Student Counselling, International Student Services, Student Disability Services
  • coordination of services to be provided to the student on the advice of the Fitness to study advisory group
  • recommendation that the student apply for an appropriate entitlement - e.g. deferral and interruption of studies or a transfer to part-time study
  • a reasonable adjustment to studies
  • advice to the student about changes to behaviour, with a review period; or
  • recommend retrospective withdrawal and possible fee remission.

Any action taken to support the student and manage behaviour will be documented and communicated by the case coordinator to the student.

A student who is unfit for study may:

  • take health related leave (leave of absence) on conditions acceptable to the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar
  • withdraw from their unit or course without academic penalty; and/or
  • receive a tuition fee refund in accordance with the Student fees and charges policy (E/7.1).

Where an interruption in studies is being considered the student should seek advice about the impact on their studies taking account of the time limits remaining to complete the course and unit availability.

At any stage where the Executive Dean, Director, QUT International College or Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research and Development) considers that there are serious and immediate concerns about the student’s behaviour they must refer the matter to the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar for a determination on whether the student is unfit to study.

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3.2.8 Fitness to study determination

a) Referral to the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar

If there are continuing concerns about a student’s behaviour following management and support (E/3.2.7) or there are serious concerns about the behaviour, a student must be referred to the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar by the Executive Dean of Faculty, Director, QUT International College, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research and Development) or Chair, Student Misconduct Committee, who will provide a report to the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar for consideration.

b) Fitness to study notice

A notice will be issued to the student inviting them to demonstrate that they are fit to continue their studies. The notice should include the grounds for concern, outline the potential consequences of an unfit to study determination and allow the student not fewer than 10 working days in which to respond.

c) Fitness to study panel

The Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar may convene a Fitness to study panel to consider all information available to the university, including:

  • relevant medical information
  • a written submission from the student
  • whether all reasonable adjustments have been made with regard to a student’s health or disability related condition.

The Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar will appoint a Secretary to the fitness to study panel.

The Fitness to study panel (where appointed) will produce a report of their considerations and make a recommendation to the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar on the student’s fitness to study.

d) Determination on fitness to study

The Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar will consider all relevant information available to the University including the recommendation from the Fitness to study panel (where appointed) and any submission made by the student. 

The Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar may make a determination that a student is unfit to study and take one of the following actions:

  • suspend or restrict the student’s studies for a specified period
  • refuse to re-enrol a student into the same course or to admit the student into another course
  • refuse an offer of admission to a prospective student
  • place the student on mandatory leave; or
  • withdraw the student from or refuse to approve the student attending placements, field trips or other University activities.

Conditions may be attached to any action taken by the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar including procedures for returning to study, and seeking medical evidence from the student that they are fit to return to study.

The Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar will inform the student in writing of:

  • the decision
  • the reasons for the decision
  • any action to be taken and any conditions to be met in order to continue or resume studies in any course; and
  • the student’s right of appeal.   

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3.2.9 Denial of access

The Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar may immediately, without notice, deny access to any or all University facilities for a student, where there are reasonable grounds to believe that such action is necessary to protect the health and safety of the student concerned, other persons or research participants associated with the University, or protect or preserve any University assets. Denial of access does not automatically terminate a student’s enrolment, but is to remain in force until varied by the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar.

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3.2.10 Mandatory leave

A student who is unfit to study may be placed on mandatory leave for a period determined by the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar with consideration of the maximum time limits for completing a course.

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3.2.11 Misconduct procedures

Where proceedings have been brought against a student under the Management of student misconduct policy (E/8.1) and it appears that the student’s concerning behaviours may be because of a health or disability related condition, the Chair of the Student Misconduct Committee may suspend further proceedings and refer the student to the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar.

If a fitness to study assessment indicates that the concerning behaviours are attributable to a health or disability related condition and the student proceeds on leave, the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar may permanently stay the misconduct proceedings, or determine that they be deferred for a reasonable period. Misconduct proceedings will be reinstated if the concerning behaviours are not the result of a health condition or disability.

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3.2.12 Appeal

University Appeals Committee determines appeals by students against decisions made by the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar in relation to fitness to study.

An appeal must be in writing and must be submitted to the secretary of the Appeals Committee within 20 working days of receiving final written notice of the decision of the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar.

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3.2.13 Mandatory notifications

Where required by legislation the Executive Dean will make a mandatory notification to the relevant professional regulatory agency or body, for example the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Queensland).

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3.2.14 Breach of conditions

Where a student, whose enrolment, re-enrolment or continuation in a course or program is subject to conditions imposed under this policy, and the student breaches a condition, the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar may, after giving the student an opportunity to make submissions, exclude the student from the course or program, or, if the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar believes that the circumstances of the person so warrant, impose alternative conditions.

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3.2.15 Recordkeeping and reporting

Records must be managed according to QUT’s Records management policy (F/6.1).

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3.2.16 Definitions

A case coordinator for the purposes of this policy will be an academic or professional staff member nominated by the Executive Dean, Director, QUT International College or Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research and Development).

Fitness to study includes fitness to engage with studies, research and/or to function more widely as a member of the University community.

Fitness to study advisory group is a standing group of QUT staff with expertise in student health, disability, welfare or support nominated by the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar. The group provides advice to university staff on reasonable adjustment to studies and appropriate ways for the university to respond to and support students with fitness to study issues. It will not make a diagnosis or provide advice on the management of a student’s health or disability related condition.

Fitness to study panel means a panel of at least two persons with expertise in student health, disability or welfare, and with no previous involvement in the case, nominated by the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar. The panel may seek advice from the relevant faculty. The fitness to study panel will be supported by a Secretary appointed by the Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar.

Mandatory leave means an approved leave of absence that has not been requested by the student and may include conditions that must be satisfied before the student can re-enrol in the course they were previously enrolled in or another course.

Support person means a person chosen by the student who can be a member of staff, friend, relative, representative of the Student Guild, health professional or disability support worker. This person must not be a practising lawyer.

A student is deemed unfit for study where the University has a reasonable belief that the student has a health or disability related condition that results in behaviours as defined in section E/3.2.5.

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3.2.17 Delegations

Refer to Appendix 3 Schedule of Authorities and Delegations (C165)

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Related Documents

MOPP A/8.6 Disability

MOPP A/9.1 Health, safety and environment framework

MOPP C/4.4 Work integrated learning

MOPP D/5.3 Higher degree research candidates

MOPP E/1.2 Appeals Committee

MOPP E/2.1 QUT Student Code of Conduct

MOPP E/4.1 Student admission

MOPP E/4.3 Enrolment programs

MOPP E/4.5 Leave of absence

MOPP E/6.3 Student academic concessions

MOPP E/6.7 Academic progress

MOPP E/8.1 Management of student misconduct

MOPP E/9.2 Grievance resolution procedures for student related grievances

Fitness to study flowchart (QUT staff access only)

Fitness to Study Advisory Group Terms of Reference (QUT staff access only)

Disability services brochure

Studying with a disability, injury or health condition (QUT staff and student access only)

Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld)

Disability Discrimination Act 1992

Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000

Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011

Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Queensland)

Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015

National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018

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Modification History

Date Sections Source Details
10.01.18 All Vice-Chancellor

New policy

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