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Can an International Student Change a Course?

As an international student, it can be difficult looking for a course to study that is the most suitable for you. It is a very important decision to make because it will be the foundation of your future career, not to mention the costs that it entails. Certainly, there are instances where you doubt your choice, sometimes realising that it is not actually the best option for you.

Studying in Australia

Read below for some frequently asked questions with answers that might help you in your journey of finding that perfect course for you or changing your current course.



Am I allowed to change my course at my institution?

The answer is yes. You can definitely change a course at the same institution, as long as it is at the same level as your current course of study. For example, if you are studying a Bachelor of Accounting, you can change to the same level of course e.g. Bachelor of Design. Speak directly to your institution to make arrangements for it. You don’t need to apply for another visa to do this, except when your current student visa is about to expire.


What should I do if I am having difficulty in my studies and I am not enjoying my course?

Make use of your institution’s services such as a counselling program or speak to your international student advisor or academic advisor. They can provide support in determining the course of actions relevant to your current academic situation. This may include guiding you on how to manage your time and how to improve your marks. If you are having difficulty in terms of stress and mental health issues that might be affecting not just your studies but your life in general, they can also refer you to a qualified professional (e.g. student counsellor or general practitioner)


Is it possible for me to transfer to another institution?

If you are less than six months in the course:
The answer is yes. To do this, you will need to speak to your institution and secure permission from them. You need to apply for a “release letter” where you will be stating your reasons for transferring. This document will be needed by your new institution and when successful, you will be given a Confirmation of Enrolment which they will be submitting to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA).
Take note, however, that your current institution has the right to refuse your request or that your new institution may restrict you from enrolling, considering that you haven’t fulfilled six months of study for which your student visa was granted. This explains why you need a genuine and compelling reason behind your decision to transfer.


If you are more than six months in the course:
Yes, you are allowed to transfer to another institution if you have been studying for more than six months in your course. You also don’t need a release letter from your institution, but you need to withdraw from your course and be accepted to the new course in your new institution.
Australia Study is able to help you should you need assistance and further information on this process. Our friendly team will be able to give you advice on the steps to take and the institutions where you can apply for your new chosen course.


Will changing courses affect my Student Visa?

Changing courses may affect your student visa as it impacts your course load as well as the duration of your course of study. Your visa may be cancelled if you are not anymore studying at the level for which you have been granted a visa. Visit the Department of Home Affairs guide to changing courses for more information.

You may also seek professional advice from a qualified education consultant in order to make sure that you are on the right track.


Can I move to a lower level of study?

You will need to apply for another student visa if you want to move to a lower level of study (e.g. from Bachelor to Diploma; or from Master to Bachelor).


What happens if I decide to take a break from my studies?

While you are holding a student visa in Australia, you are expected to follow its terms and conditions, and that includes attending your classes and passing your subjects. Therefore, if you are not studying, it may result in the cancellation of your visa.


Nevertheless, it is possible to take a break from your studies, only if you have a genuine and compelling reason for deferring your course. As this will affect your course and marks, it will also be affecting the completion date of your course. As such, your visa needs to be extended in order to complete the course.


You will need to inform your institution and then they will be advising the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) on your decision. However, it is important to take note that the DHA will have the final decision on this matter and extensions cannot be guaranteed by your institution.

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