An international student’s guide to changing courses and education providers

Everybody changes their mind at some stage and for many people, this occurs at university, specifically regarding choice of degree. For locals, the process is reasonably straightforward but for international students, there a few things to take into account.

Here are several questions you might have about changing courses.

I want to change my education provider. How soon after starting my course can I do this?

If you’re have been studying your principal course for less than six months, the ESOS National Code outlines whether you will be able to change courses. You will most likely need permission from your current educational provider to transfer, which will require the evaluation of the provider’s transfer policy. Make sure you understand what is expected of you prior to transferring to a new provider.

What if my education provider rejects my request to transfer to a different provider?

Your first option is to lodge a complaint with your education provider’s internal appeal process. If you don’t achieve a resolution you are happy with, there are external bodies where you can press your case, including the State or Territory Ombudsman or the Overseas Student Ombudsman.

Does changing courses affect my student visa?

If you have changed courses, check whether the end date of your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) has changed. If it has, you must apply for a new visa within 28 days of completing your principal course to avoid your visa being cancelled or having to leave Australia.

I hold a student visa (subclass 500) and wish to change to a lower level or non-Australian Qualifications Framework course. Is this possible?

Yes, but you will need to apply for a new student visa, even if the new course is offered by your current provider. Exceptions include changing from a level 10 course (doctoral degree) to a level nine course (masters degree). You will not need to apply for a new student visa if you want to change from a non-AQF course to an AQF course.

I hold a student visa (subclass 570-576) and wish to change to a course from a different educational sector (ELICOS to a diploma, for example). Is this possible?

You will need to apply for a student visa (subclass 500) because your current visa is not suitable for your new course. If you received your visa under streamlined visa processing (SVP), there is a possible exception if the provider you are transferring to was not an eligible provider prior to 1 July 2016, dependent on the length of your current visa and country of origin.

Useful Links:

Changing courses

Course packaging

Complete guide to studying in Australia


Related blogs


Subscribe to our newsletter