Your student visa

Your student visa is the document issued to you by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) that allows you to enter Australia to study. This document is facilitated by your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE), which is managed by Charles Darwin University (CDU).

It is important that you are familiar with your rights and responsibilities as a student visa holder. Make yourself aware of your responsibilities, and ensure you meet these during your time at CDU.

Charles Darwin University responsibilities

All Australian universities accepting international students must follow a strict set of laws to ensure the international student is provided with fair and equitable service in accordance with the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000. This legislation aims to enhance Australia’s reputation for world-class education, ensure tuition protection, and support the integrity of the student visa program.

Charles Darwin University, along with all education and training providers offering courses to international students studying in Australia on a student visa, are required to:

  • Register on CRICOS
  • Meet quality assurance standards
  • Comply with tuition and financial assurance requirements
  • Meet the obligations of registered providers
  • Report students who do not comply with student visa conditions to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection


International student responsibilities

As an international student visa holder, you have a particular set of responsibilities related to your visa laws.

You are obligated to make yourself aware of these responsibilities, and ensure you do not breach your visa conditions. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection may cancel your visa should you breach any visa conditions.

The University will monitor your enrolment each semester and contact you in the case of certain breaches.

Your responsibilities include:

Maintaining enrolment and course progress

You are expected to progress through your course and complete within the time period stated on your CoE. This is achieved through full-time enrolment and achieving satisfactory grades.

Paying tuition fees on time to maintain enrolment

International students are expected to pay their student fees in full by the first day of class each semester. For more information, see International student fee payment.

Notifying the University of any change of address

Students are required to notify CDU of any change of address or phone number within 5 working days. This is compulsory, as CDU must always have your current personal details in order to facilitate any enquiries from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Maintaining Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

Having yourself and your dependants covered by a valid form of OSHC is a student visa requirement whilst in Australia, and will help you in times of need. For more information, see Staying Covered (OSHC).

Timely communication with the University regarding issues affecting your enrolment

CDU understands that issues may arise during your time in Australia that can impact your studies. However, it is important to remember that a student visa comes with strict responsibilities and these cannot be ignored during difficult times. If you do face issues during your studies, contact a CDU team member and we will look into options for assisting you. These may include referring you to other CDU services such as counselling, recommending a reduced study load, or suggesting an intermission.

Monitoring external study load correctly to remain below 25% external

International student visa holders are not permitted to study more than 25% of their units externally. It is your responsibility to uphold this visa requirement. More details regarding external enrolment can be found at Enrolling in external units.


Study load

At the commencement of your studies with CDU you are issued with a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). The CoE outlines the normal full-time duration of your program and indicates the date you are expected to complete.  To ensure you complete your degree in the specified time period, you must maintain a load of 40 credit points per semester.

If you are unable to maintain a full-time load of 40 credit points, then you must apply for a reduced study load.

Please note that applications for reduced study load are not approved in all circumstances and you should contact the Senior International Student Adviser (SISA) for further advice if you are unsure of your eligibility.

For these reasons, it is very important to remain enrolled on a full-time basis or as per your approved study plan.



Any student enrolled in an internal CDU program is expected to attend class to participate in class requirements that may not be available through online learning systems.

VET student visa holders have very strict attendance requirements in place. Attendance is monitored and reported regularly, and any issues with VET attendance are taken very seriously, as these may have a direct impact on a student’s visa in the future.

Please review the information below for specific details on attendance monitoring and reporting for international VET students:


Teaching staff monitor attendance using a roll book. If a student fails to attend a class, they will be noted as 'absent' from that class. If a student is more than 30 minutes late to class, they will be noted as 'absent' except in extenuating circumstances.

Early intervention 

It is the students' responsibility to ensure they attend all classes. It is also their responsibility to discuss any absences with teaching staff. However, if the student is at risk of falling below the minimum attendance threshold (e.g. 85 per cent attendance) the lecturer may contact the student to inform them that they are at risk of poor attendance and offer assistance if necessary.


If a student's attendance falls below 80 per cent (but above 70 per cent), they will be sent formal notification from the Office of International Services (OIS). This letter will ask the student to provide the University with information and evidence explaining their absences. The OIS will then decide (in coordination with teaching staff) if it is necessary to report the student to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection or if the circumstances warrant flexibility. The student will be consulted during this phase and will be invited to attend a meeting with the Senior International Student Adviser (SISA). If poor attendance continues, the student may then be issued with a 'Notice of Intent to Report'.


If a student is continually absent from class without significant cause (attendance below 80 per cent and the above interventions have previously been implemented) they will be issued with a 'Notice of Intent to Report'. This letter is formal notification to the student that the University intends to report their poor attendance to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. The student then has 20 working days to submit a formal complaint to CDU using the University's complaints procedure.

If a student's attendance falls below 70 per cent they will immediately be issued with a 'Notice of Intent to Report'. The student then has the opportunity to submit a formal complaint regarding this decision using the University's complaints procedure.

Working while studying

As an international student visa holder, you are automatically entitled to work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight when your course is in session.

This rule only applies once the student has commenced their course of study.

Visa conditions specify that:

  • Students and their dependants are restricted from undertaking any paid work until the student has officially commenced their course in Australia.
  • Students and their dependants are not permitted to work any more than 40 hours per fortnight when course is in session. This includes examination periods.

For more information on work conditions for student visa holders, please visit the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).

During official break (holiday) periods, you are able to work unlimited hours. Break information for Higher Education students is available under Important Dates. When viewing these dates, it is important to note that you are only permitted to work unlimited hours from the official end date of your exam period until the day before classes commence in the next semester. These breaks apply between semesters only.

For Higher Education students, the University does not issue letters confirming dates of official break; please refer your employer to this website.

NB: If you are enrolled in a unit of study during the above-mentioned breaks then you are NOT PERMITTED TO WORK UNLIMITED HOURS. The standard 40 hour per fortnight work limitation applies. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in the cancellation of your student visa.

VET students may request confirmation of semester breaks from their relevant department teaching staff.


Overseas Student Health Cover

All international students are required to have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the duration of their student visa. Charles Darwin University organises OSHC cover through Allianz Global Assistance, but students can arrange equivalent health cover through any preferred provider. If you extend your studies, you must renew your OSHC. For further information on OSHC, please read the Department of Health FAQs.

For any queries about your OSHC, you can meet Allianz representative Michelle Jacutina on campus every Wednesday between 9.30am–2.30pm at the Office of International Services in building Orange 2, Level 1, Casuarina campus. Alternatively, Michelle can be contacted by email at


International student fee payment

International student fees are stated on your letter of offer and CoE prior to commencing at CDU. Fees must be paid in full by the first day of classes each semester. If you are unable to pay by this date, you must apply for a tuition fees extension online via: If you have any questions regarding payment of your fees, please contact the International Compliance Officer via email at

As a student visa holder, it is required that students remain financially able to pay their fees. Financial struggle cannot be considered when assessing other applications such as CoE extension and Reduced study load.


External study restrictions

Student visa holders are restricted from studying more than 25% of their course on an external basis. This includes:

  • External study undertaken through CDU
  • Cross-institutional enrolment
  • Enrolment in external units during summer semester

Upon your enrolment, you can calculate how many units you are permitted to enrol in externally by dividing your total number of units by 4. It is important to remember that if you receive credit for any study, these units do not count towards your study at CDU and are thus not included in your calculations.

For example: A Bachelor of Accounting student must study 240cp to complete their degree. This means they must finish 24 units. 25% of 24 units is 6 units, thus 6 can be studied externally.

However, if the student had received 40cp advanced standing, they would only have to complete 200cp with CDU. Therefore, 25% of these 20 units is 5 units, thus 5 can be studied externally.

Monitoring your external enrolment is your own responsibility during your enrolment at CDU, and exceeding this enrolment may impact on your student visa. Ensure that you adhere to your study plan at all times, and plan ahead for your external enrolment.


Cross-institutional enrolment

In the case of elective units not being available at CDU, students may choose to enrol cross-institutionally in units, in order to gain credit towards their study. This process is facilitated through the Academic Liaison Unit, and allows students to study a greater selection of units as a part of their final degree.

On occasion, this process can allow students to enrol internally into units at other institutions during non-compulsory study periods, and study at another location in Australia whilst remaining on a CDU CoE.


Change of provider

Within the first six months of study for the initial course, an international student may only transfer to another education provider with the permission of Charles Darwin University and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
You can only transfer to another education provider within the first six months of your main course if Charles Darwin University provides you with a Letter of Release. This letter is required before you are able to enrol in another program at a different institution. To obtain a Letter of Release, make sure you have the following documentation:

  • Completed Letter of Release request form
  • Offer letter from other registered education provider
  • Copy of information page of passport
  • Copy of visa label

What is my main course of study?

If you are granted a student visa based on more than one course (packaged courses), your main course of study is the last course for which your visa was granted. For example, if you were offered a package program including Certificate IV in Business and the Bachelor of Business, the main course of study is the Bachelor of Business.


Change of address

If you move or change your mailing address, it is your responsibility to immediately update those details on My Student Info. This is a requirement of your student visa.


Visa extensions

Students requiring a visa extension must submit an application to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. You may need to apply to extend your studies in order to obtain a new electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) from CDU. For further information on student visas, please visit the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) website.

Please note that DIBP gives priority to visa applications lodged online. Please visit the Department of Immigration and Border Protection - Studying in Australia website.

For further information regarding visa extension, please contact your local immigration office.


Inviting friends and family to Australia

During your time in Australia, you may decide that you want friends and family to visit you from your home country. Generally, this is to attend your graduation ceremony.

Previously, CDU has offered to write a letter of invitation on your behalf. However, this service is no longer offered, and we instead encourage students to write their own letter of invitation to be submitted to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. This letter can be submitted alongside any supporting documents, including a certified copy of your passport, and details of the visit (i.e. graduation details).

The below template is designed to provide all of the necessary information to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection:

< Australian visa office in your home country>

Date: <date>

<Address Line 1>

<Address Line 2>

Dear Sir/Madam,

Regarding: <Name and date of birth of your invitee(s)>

I am <currently enrolled/recently graduated> in/from <Degree name> at Charles Darwin University, <campus location> {and expect to complete my course on <CoE end date>.}

I wish to invite <name of your relative/s> to visit me in Australia for <number of weeks or months> for the purpose of <insert purpose>.

I have attached a certified copy of my passport and Australian student visa, and <details of other supporting documents>.

Yours sincerely,

<Your name>
<Your residential address in Australia>

Once you have completed this letter, send it on to your family or friends to be used in their visa application.

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