Download our guides Your Next Career Accommodation Money and banking Cost of living Visas Employment Health and safety Language Life in Australia Studying Getting around Travel Advertise

Can I Change Course or Institution 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?

Don’t panic – it happens! 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 learning 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?

Yes, if you wish to study at the same institution, and at the same level (for example, switching from a Bachelor of Business to a Bachelor of Arts), this can typically be managed directly through your institution. There’s no need to apply for another visa unless your current one is about to expire.

If you want to change your level of qualification, for example from a Diploma to a Bachelor Degree, you may need to apply for a new student visa because your visa subclass may change. Visit the Department of Home Affairs website for more information.

Can I transfer to another institution?

If you have been studying in your primary program for less than six months, you will need permission from your institution to transfer elsewhere. You need to be accepted into the new course then request a ‘letter of release’ from your current institution, stating the reasons why you are seeking the release. If approved, you’ll receive a new electronic Confirmation of Enrolment from your new institution that will be supplied to the Department of Home Affairs.

Be aware that your current institution has the right to refuse your request. You will need to provide compelling reasons why continuing at your current institution is not in your best academic interests or if there are special circumstances surrounding the move.

If you have been studying in your primary program for longer than six months, you can 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 one.

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 wish to study at a lower level, for example, dropping from a Bachelor program to a diploma program, 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 should be discussed with the Department of Home Affairs. If you are no longer studying at the level you have been approved for, your visa may be cancelled. Please refer to the Department of Home Affairs 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, inform your institution so they can advise the Department of Home Affairs. A case can potentially be made for an extension of your visa to complete your studies, but this is the responsibility of the Department of Home Affairs and extensions cannot be guaranteed by your institution.

Remember, if you change your institution or course at any time, you must contact the Department of Home Affairs and provide an electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) certificate from your new institution. Be sure to keep a copy of any course cancellation and enrolment paperwork.