Can I Change Course as an International Student?


Choosing a study program or course as an international student in Australia can be a huge decision. Sometimes you arrive and then realise your chosen course isn’t the best option for you. Here is our guide to what to do if you are not sure about your current study situation.

I’m not enjoying my current program, what should I do?

Speak to an international student advisor or a counsellor at your institution. They can provide support and help you determine the best course of action. This may range from additional academic support to help you adjust to Australian standards, to helping you with considering your career goals. If you are having difficulty with stress or mental health issues then they may also refer you to a qualified professional.

Can I change to another course at my institution?

If you want to study at the same institution, and at the same level (for example changing from a Bachelor of Business to Bachelor of Arts), then this should be done directly through your institution. You do not have to apply for another visa unless your current one is about to expire.

Can I transfer to another institution?

If you have been studying in your primary program for less than six months then you will need permission from your institution to transfer elsewhere. This means you have to be accepted into the new course then request a ‘letter of release’ from your current institution. This request must state the reasons why you are seeking the release. If this is accepted then you will receive a new Confirmation of Enrolment from your new institution that will be electronically supplied to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Please note that your current institution has the right to refuse your request. You will need to prove why continuing at your current institution is not in your best academic interests or that you have special circumstances surrounding the move.

If you have been studying in your primary program for longer than six months then you are entitled to transfer to another institution without a release letter from your current institution. You will still need to be accepted into your new program and withdraw from your current program.

Do I have to study at the same level?

Students studying under the Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF) must study at the same level or higher. If you want to study at a lower level, for example dropping from a Bachelor program to a diploma program, then you will need to apply for another student visa.


Credit: Australian Qualifications Framework

Will changing courses affect my student visa?

Any changes impacting your course load and/or duration need to be discussed with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). If you are no longer studying at the level you have been approved for then your visa may be cancelled. See the DIBP guide to changing courses for more information.

Can I take a break from my studies?

Studying in Australia is a condition of a student visa so if you are not studying then you will, in most circumstances, have to leave Australia. If there are genuine reasons for deferring your studies then inform your institution so they can advise the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). While you will still have to leave then a case can be made for an extension of your visa to complete your studies. Please note that this decision is the responsibility of the DIBP and extensions can not be guaranteed by your institution.