I have been confronted with a word so many times for which I couldn't find any equivalent in English. What is an opposite term for academic progress? I mean specifically when one is no longer doing well at school or university, like one did before. What do we call this? I do not mean dropping out of school or academic failure.


Imagine you're describing one's academic standing. So, can we say he has had "academic stagnation"? The results I found for stagnation showed it's not often used in this context.

I also searched for "academic probation", which seemed a good option. Is it a good option for the opposite of "academic progress"?

"Academic failure" does not suit my situation.

I want words that suit a formal situation.

  • 2
    There is no single word for academic progress; similarly, there will be no single word for academic deterioration/decline /etc. Have you looked in a dictionary or two for the antonym for progress? Or in a thesaurus for deterioration? There, you will find candidates for the word you seek. Please do have a look at the help page for examples of questions which are on-topic here. Answers that can be found in a dictionary or thesaurus are not on-topic here. Jul 20, 2014 at 1:41
  • You're asking for the opposite of "progress", but you're not going to consider "failure" huh?
    – kolossus
    Jul 20, 2014 at 2:23
  • Academic congress (hehe).
    – user85526
    Jul 20, 2014 at 2:37
  • possible duplicate of Can nouns even have opposites at all?
    – tchrist
    Jul 20, 2014 at 2:46
  • @kolossus Erm, is progress a synonym of success? You can make a lot of progress but still fail. So it doesn't look like failure is a good antonym for progress. Jul 20, 2014 at 9:55

7 Answers 7


The term I would use is academic regression.

That is struggling in school and moving "backward," without actually failing.

That could refer to someone taking a course multiple times, and getting a lower grade each time.


A useful phrase would be:

academic stagnation

The figurative use of stagnation can imply slow deterioration through a lack of movement or progress.

Cambridge Dictionaries Online gives the following definition for stagnation:

A stage in which growth or development stops.


Academic Probation might be what you're looking for. In the US, it is an official status for a student who is not meeting the minimum academic standards. The wiki article calls it scolastic probation, but most US universities call it academic probation. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholastic_probation http://ls-probation.berkeley.edu/definition.html


If you must have a single word, it would be failing, as in failing to make satisfactory academic progress. The cause may be making grades that are too low, or not earning sufficient credits to advance. Academic status is often noted as good standing, probation, suspension, or dismissal. A person whose performance is trending toward less than good standing and sufficient progress can be said to be in academic jeopardy.


Inertia. Just hanging in there, not moving forward, yet not failing.

  • 2
    Can you give some examples you've read or heard of this sense of the word? Jul 20, 2014 at 5:50

'Flunking' is informal, but pretty descriptive! Not wanting to use 'academic failure' is illogical, although it means something different (ie. they've failed). 'Academically failing' might cut it.


You could trying slipping (academic) performance.

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