Withdrawals under extenuating circumstances (WE) - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. What will I see on my transcript if the request is approved?
The notation of WE will be placed beside any courses approved under this process. The notation does not affect your GPA, and WE courses are not counted as duplicates.
2. Does a WE notation look better on a transcript than a WD? Can I change a WD notation to a WE?
No. The difference between a WE (withdrawal under extenuating circumstances) and a WD (withdrawal) relates only to the date when the course was dropped, ie, either before or after the eight week mark. When you have a WD on your transcript, it cannot be changed to a WE.
3. Do I need a WE notation on my transcript to apply for a tuition refund?
No, you do not need a WE notation to apply for a tuition refund. The WE Office does not process nor consider tuition refunds. All students who withdraw from classes (WD or WE) and want to apply for a tuition refund must complete the Enrollment Appeal Form (submitted to the Enrollment Appeal Committee). The deadline dates for obtaining a tuition refund are posted each term at https://www.sfu.ca/students/deadlines/html.
4. Do I need permission from my instructor to drop a course under WE?
If you are requesting a withdrawal at the end of a term, your instructor(s) will be contacted to provide information about your situation and your academic progress throughout the term. A withdrawal will be considered only if no other option is available to successfully complete the class. Therefore although you do not need their signature, you are recommended to speak with each instructor to review the possibility of deferral, etc.
5. Can I apply to withdraw from a class in which I have a DE notation or a passed grade?
Classes with DE (Deferred) notations listed on an academic record will not be considered until the DE notation is either removed or replaced with a grade. No, any course with a passing mark is exempt from this process.
6. Will obtaining a WE affect current and future student loan and scholarship applications?
If you have a student loan or received an SFU scholarship, award, bursary, or provincial tuition waiver we strongly recommend that you speak with a Financial Aid and Awards advisor before submitting your WE application. Information on advising and eligibility requirements pertaining to financial aid and awards funding can be found at www.sfu.ca/students/financialaid.html
7. Can I apply to withdraw from a class in which I have an Academic Incident Report?
No. Any course which has an Academic Incident Report is not eligible for a withdrawal under extenuating circumstances. Should you require information about your Academic Incident Report, please speak to the University Ombudsperson.
8. What should I say in my personal letter?
- Be clear and concise and state what impact the event had on your ability to complete the course(s). State whether or not you asked for any academic concessions from your instructor(s). If you are in any doubt, email email@example.com.
- Include a brief list of events, in chronological order, relating to the reason(s) for your request.
- Speak to the facts of the request only. It is not necessary to present graphic details, nor will photos, x-rays, videos, pharmaceutical medical information sheets, or empty prescription bottles and vials be accepted. Avoid presenting information not related to the withdrawal.
- Letters that exceed more than two (2) pages will be returned and the WE application will not be processed.
- The Ombudsperson's office has a web page on Writing Appeal Letters: www.sfu.ca/ombudsperson/writing_an_effective_appeal_letter.html
9. Can I apply to WE from more than one term?
Yes, you can. Seperate WE packages are required for each term from which you wish to withdraw. A complete WE package includes an electronic application form, personal letter and supporting documents.
10. What documentation do I need:
If I'm applying under:
Your health care professional (doctors, counsellors, psychologist, psychiatrists, social workers and registered physiotherapists) must complete the Health Care Provider Statement Form. Your documentation does not have to define (or give specific details of) any illness. What is more important is that the health care provider is clear about the dates of your illness and the length of time for treatment or recovery and strongly supports your application. All requests for a medical withdrawal must be presented on the Health Care Provider Statement Form; information written on medical prescription pads, photographs, or any other form will not be accepted. For more information on Student Health go to www.sfu.ca/students/health.html
Motor Vehicle accidents should include a Health Care Provider Statement Form which explains how the accident has impacted your academic studies and a copy of the ICBC and/or Police Report.
Employment related withdrawals must be supported by information presented on business letterhead regarding the conditions of your employment, the date you were hired and when your hours of employment changed.
Compassionate grounds due to a death must include any of the following: a death certificate, obituary, or other appropriate published announcement. If you are leaving the country/province, you must also include airline tickets AND boarding passes (screenshots are acceptable). If applicable, include a completed Health Care Provider Statement Form.
Official documentation that attests to your claim.
11. Is the information attached to the WE application kept confidential?
Yes. Normally, your application is only reviewed by the Manager, Student Academic Appeals. Once completed, your application is kept in your student file, and there are strict privacy guidelines governing who may see your student file. For further information on University procedures and policy regarding confidentiality, please see www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/information.html
12. My reasons for applying are personal and I am not comfortable supplying detailed information. What can I do?
All applications require some type of documentation supporting the reasons for the withdrawal. In some exceptional cases, this may be difficult to obtain. You are encouraged to make an appointment with the Manager, Student Academic Appeals, to discuss, in confidence, what evidence might be acceptable for your application. You may also contact the Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office.
13. What is a retroactive partial withdrawal?
Partial means you have chosen to drop only one or some of the courses taken in a particular term. If you are only taking one course and you wish to drop it that is a complete withdrawal. Retroactive normally refers to applications for withdrawal from previous terms, but may also refer to the current term if the exam schedule has just ended. See www.sfu.ca/students/deadlines.html for dates.
14. I’ve heard it is easier to receive a complete withdrawal rather than a partial one. Is that true?
No. Both partial and complete withdrawals are reviewed using the same criteria and standards.
15. I want to apply for a selective withdrawal.
You must explain why you are requesting a selective withdrawal. If you have received a passing grade in any course(s) during the term you are requesting a WE from, a detailed explanation on why you were able to pass one or more courses but not the one(s) you are requesting a WE from is required. If a detailed explanation is not provided, this may result in a denied decision.
16. Can a WE notation be changed back to the original grade?
No. Once WE notations are posted they are final.
17. Can I withdraw from a Co-op term or courses within a Co-op term?
Contact your Co-op program manager. You cannot withdraw from a Co-op term or for classes enrolled while working in a Co-op term through the WE Office. Contact your Co-op Coordinator for more information.
18. Can I withdraw from the Professional Development Program (PDP)?
Students wishing to withdraw from the Professional Development Program (PDP) program (must first meet with their Coordinator in the Faculty of Education. Your PDP Coordinator can provide you with the information you require to withdraw, including the Interrupt form which must be completed and approved. WE applications from the PDP program are not adjudicated in the normal way through Senate and Academic Services, instead they must be approved by the Coordinator of the PDP program in the Faculty of Education. Once approved, submit a WE application by completing the WE form and attach all documents.
19. My application has been denied. What options do I have?
If your application has been denied you will receive a letter through email with the reasons explained. You can appeal the denied decision by applying to the Senate Appeals Board (SAB). For impartial and confidential assistance on the appeals process, contact the University Ombudsperson at www.sfu.ca/ombudsperson.
20. Can I apply for a WE after I have graduated? And, can I apply for a WE notation indefinately?
No. Once a degee has been completed or recommended to Senate for consideration of graduation, your academic trancript is closed and no changes can be made to it. Students have five years to apply for a WE notation from the term a class(es) were taken. Following five years, a WE appeal request will not be accepted.
21. I am currently enrolled in a BOT course. How do I apply for a WE?
All BOT students must first speak to their BOT advisor to obtain a letter from them confirming that they have reviewed the rule and regulations of the WE process. This letter must be included in the WE appeal package.