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Make your studies compliant

Your student visa is the document issued to you by the Department of Home Affairs 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.

Important information

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 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 (RSL). Refer to Changes to your enrolment – Reducing your enrolment below.

Please note that applications for reduced study load are not approved in all circumstances, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for more information.

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

Maintain satisfactory course progress and completion of course requirements

International student course progression is continually monitored and assessed by the University in accordance with Standard 8 of the National Code.

Higher Education Students

A student must complete the official published requirements of a course before being eligible for the granting of a University award. CDU also formally assesses its HE students in each Progression Period following the grade release date at the completion of Semester 1 and Semester 2. Students will be assessed to be in Good StandingUnder Review or determined to have made Unsatisfactory Progress

Students are advised to refer to Higher Education Students - Academic Progression Procedures (PDF 750KB) for more information.

VET Students

International students are required to complete the prescribed units of competency in a nationally recognised qualification or accredited VET course, within the expected duration, before being eligible for the granting of a University Award. To progress satisfactorily and maintain a full-time VET study load, international students must demonstrate competency in fifty percent (50%) or more of enrolled units of competency in each teaching period. An international student who has not demonstrated satisfactory course progress is at risk of not meeting the University’s course progression requirements, which is a breach of their student visa conditions.

Students are advised to refer to International Students - VET Course Progression Procedures (PDF 774KB) for more information.

International student fee payment

International student fees are stated in your letter of offer and CoE before 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. If you have any questions regarding payment of your fees, please contact the International Compliance Officer via email.

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

The restriction under National code 2018 has eased until further notice from DESE.

In response to the current pandemic (COVID-19) - The university regulator, ASQA (Australian Skills Quality Authority) and TEQSA (Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency), will allow student visa holders (offshore) to enrol in wholly online study (full-time), including when this will exceed the allowable one third (or equivalent) online learning for the course of study.

If you are studying outside of Australia, due to the challenges associated with external study mode, there is flexibility to reduce your enrolment load to a minimum of 10 CP per semester. You will need to make a request for a reduced study load and provide supporting evidence for your circumstances. If you are unable to maintain a full-time load of 40 credit points, then you must apply for a Reduced Study Load (RSL). Refer to Changes to your enrolment – Reducing your enrolment below.

If you are studying in Australia, the normal student visa requirements apply for 2021. This means that you are required to complete your program within the duration of your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE), which is best achieved by enrolling in a full-time load of 40 CP per semester.

Cross-institutional enrolment

In the case of elective units not being available at CDU, students may choose to enrol cross-institutionally in units, to gain credit towards their study. This process is facilitated through Student Central 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 while remaining on a CDU CoE.

To apply for cross-institutional enrolment, students should apply for Outgoing Cross-institutional (CDU Students) via the appropriate CDU eForm. It is important to note that cross-institutional enrolments count towards your external study limits.

Change of provider

Within the first six months of study for the principal course, an international student may only transfer to another education provider with the permission of Charles Darwin University and the Department of Home Affairs.

You can only transfer to another education provider within the first six calendar months of your principal course if Charles Darwin University provides you with a Letter of Release. This letter is required before you can enrol in another program at a different institution.

To obtain a Letter of Release, submit the following documentation:

  • A completed Letter of Release request form
  • An Offer letter from another registered provider
  • Other supporting documents (if applicable) such as a medical certificate, a letter of support, etc.

You are advised to familiarise yourselves with the International Students – Transfer Between Registered Providers Procedures to understand how your Letter of Release request will be assessed.

If you have completed more than six months of study for the principal course, you will not need to provide a Letter of Release to your next educational institution, but you still need to apply for Course Cancellation from Charles Darwin University.

To apply for Course Cancellation, submit the following documentation:

  • A Course Cancellation eForm
  • An Offer letter from another registered provider
  • Other supporting documents (if applicable) such as a medical certificate, a letter of support, etc.

You are also required to notify the University within seven days of receiving the new electronic Confirmation of Enrolment certificate or evidence of enrolment.

CDU terms of agreement

Your key responsibilities as an international student are outlined in the CDU Terms of Agreement, which you signed upon acceptance of your CDU Letter of Offer. You are expected to revisit and familiarise yourself with these responsibilities to ensure compliance with the conditions of your visa and your obligations under Australian immigration law.

These responsibilities pertain to but are not limited to, attending a compulsory Orientation program, enrolling or changing enrolment promptly, paying tuition fees fully and promptly, updating details following a change in address or contact information, and maintaining full-time enrolment on campus.

You also are expected to maintain satisfactory academic progress and successful course completion within the period specified in your letter of offer and CoE, i.e., the period of your student visa. Additionally, you must inform the University if you are unable to continue studying, and should familiarise yourself with the circumstances which could lead to cancellation or suspension of your enrolment. Cancellation of enrolment may result in a breach of your visa, meaning you may be required to leave the country.

Changes to your enrolment

To prevent changes to your enrolment that may negatively affect your timely course completion, we recommend that you contact relevant support staff before changing your enrolment.

Subject selection

For each course of study, CDU has already prepared Recommended Study Plans. To find your recommended study plan, simply visit the CDU Course Catalogue and click on the Study Plan tab.

Should you wish or be advised to digress from the Recommended Study Plan, we recommend that you contact Student Central for advice on subject selection.

Please visit Student Central for more information regarding the services offered.

Trouble enrolling

If you are having difficulties enrolling into your subjects, please visit the webpage Guide to enrolling for detailed instructions or contact Student Central at your campus upon arrival for assistance.

Completing your course on time

International students must strive, at all times, to complete their studies by the completion date specified on their Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) document. This means that under normal circumstances you must complete at least 80 credit points per academic year, or as listed in the Recommended Study Plan.

The academic year at CDU consists of 2 compulsory study periods, Semester 1 and Semester 2, and 1 non-compulsory study period, Summer Semester.

Reduced study load

All international students are required to undertake a full-time study load of 80 credit points per academic year. This is usually done over two compulsory study periods, Semester 1 and Semester 2 (40 credit points per semester) unless otherwise instructed or approved by International Student Support.

If you are not able to study the full-time load requirements, you must apply for a Reduced Study Load (RSL) and include relevant documentation to support your claims. Applications for RSL can be submitted one month before the semester starts and until the census date of each semester.

Applications for RSL are assessed as per the National Code requirements and can be approved only in certain circumstances. These are:

  • Academic difficulties, e.g. identified as Under Review (UR) or Unsatisfactory Progress (UP);
  • Compassionate and/or compelling circumstances, i.e. circumstances beyond your control. For example, illness, disability, bereavement, a traumatic experience. You must provide appropriate documentation  to support your claims and directly address how your circumstances have affected (or will affect) your course progress if you undertake a full-time study load;
  • Unexpected changes to the course structure and unit availability;
  • Unable to meet prerequisite requirements or program rules;
  • Granted advanced standing (credit transfer) AND able to complete by CoE end date;
  • Studied extra units during non-compulsory study period AND able to complete by CoE end date.

If you are studying in your last semester, you do not need to obtain permission to reduce your study load. 

If you commence in Summer Semester, you will need to submit a Reduced Study Load application. If you commence in Semester 1 & 2 and Summer Semester study is optional, you do not need permission to reduce study load for Summer Semester.

Each application for RSL is assessed on a case by case basis by International Student Support and we aim to have an outcome available to you within ten (10) working days.

FAQ about Reduced Study Load

Apply online: Reduced Study Load

Online and distance learning

Students can study up to one-third of their total courses through online or distance learning. However, there are rules about how much you can study online/distance at specific times of the year.

No student can study entirely online or by distance in any compulsory study period (i.e. Semesters 1 and 2). This means that in every compulsory study period, you must be enrolled in at least one internal (face-to-face) unit.

This rule does not apply in non-compulsory study periods (i.e. Summer Semester) in which students may study entirely online/distance subjects if they want to.

If a student is in the last study period of a course, with only one subject to complete the course, the student must not study this unit online or by distance education in Australia unless the period in which the student will complete the course is a non-compulsory study period.

If a student has only one unit to complete in a compulsory study period, and the unit is available by distance or online, the student may ask the provider to cancel the CoE (thus no longer requiring a student visa) and return to their home country to complete the final unit of the course by distance or online.


International students who wish to take a break from the study are required to apply for either an intermission or a short-term leave of absence.

A student may request a temporary deferment or suspension to their enrolment on the grounds of compassionate or compelling circumstances (for example, illness where a medical certificate states that the student is unable to attend classes, the serious illness or death of a family member, or some other compassionate or compelling circumstance that is beyond the control of the student and for which they can provide evidence).

Intermission is only available to students who have completed at least one unit. If you do not re-enrol or apply for an intermission by the relevant Census date, the University then considers you lapsed from your course. You will then need to reapply for admission to continue your studies.

The standard period of intermission is one semester, and this can be approved up to two consecutive semesters. The maximum length of intermission is 12 months.

To apply, please log into the CDU eForm Centre and apply for Intermission. You’ll need to attach appropriate evidence to support your application. This can be a:

  • Medical document
  • Counsellor’s letter
  • Any other supporting document provided by a recognised authority
CoE extension

A Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) is a legal document produced by the University for its international students that indicates the full-time study load duration of a course. As an international student, you are expected to complete your course within the course end date specified on your CoE. Your CoE is required to apply for a visa extension.

It is a condition of your student visa that you study a full-time study load and maintain satisfactory academic progress:

  • For Higher Education students, a full-time study load is 80 credit points per academic year (40 credit points each in Semester 1 and Semester 2, which are compulsory semesters of study);
  • For VET students, you must complete the required number of hours successfully, including attending a minimum of 20 contact hours per week.

Standard 9 of the National Code requires the University to monitor the enrolment of all its international students to ensure they complete their course within the expected duration stated in their CoE. The National Code only permits an extension to a student’s course duration in limited circumstances as follows:

  1. Compassionate or compelling circumstances, i.e. circumstances beyond your control. For example, illness, disability, bereavement, a traumatic experience. You must provide appropriate documentation to support your claims and directly address how your circumstances have affected your course progress. More about supplying appropriate documentation.
  2. Implementation of an intervention strategy for students at risk of not meeting satisfactory course progress e.g. a reduced study load for students placed on a Learning Management Plan;
  3. An intermission/deferment or suspension of study approved by International Student Support.

Applications for CoE extensions are processed after grade release of Semester 1 and Semester 2. It is your responsibility as an international student to ensure you have a current CoE for the semester and to request for a CoE extension before your visa expires.

If your CoE expires before you receive an outcome to your CoE extension application, this is not a problem if your visa is still active. You will be notified of the outcome of your CoE application before your visa expires.

Apply online: CoE Extension


Changing course

Changing your program is an important decision which requires careful consideration and thorough research. Before deciding to change program, you are encouraged to arrange a meeting with the Course Coordinator of the program that you wish to transfer to. This meeting is important as it provides an opportunity to discuss the new program’s requirements and outcomes.

You must also make sure that you understand the implications of changing course to your student visa. Please also refer to the Department of Home Affairs - Your study situation has changed.

Important Information:

    • To be eligible for a course change, you must meet all the admission entry requirements (i.e. academic, English and GTE criteria) of the course that you are applying for
    • Your application will be assessed only after grade release date
    • Unless approved for a course change/transfer, you are required to continue your original course of study following your original recommended study plan
    • For approved course changes/transfers, 2021 tuition fees for new commencing international students will be applied, please refer to the webpage for more information: Fees and Payments

    • Application must be submitted by the deadline. Relevant deadlines are mentioned can be found here: How to apply and application dates

    • For students who have received Unsatisfactory Progress notice, course transfer/ change will not be processed until the progression process is completed. Refer to Higher Education Students - Academic Progression Procedures


How to apply

For Higher Education students

Step 1. Submit an online application via StudyLink for the new course and upload a Statement of Purpose for Course Change (PDF 127KB) (PDF, 197.18 KB) as attachment in the online application.

Step 2. Submit relevant form

a. If your total achieved credit points are less than 10 in your current course i.e. total of any previous advance standing and passed units in your current course: Submit HE113 Application for Exemption Form (PDF 79KB) along with your StudyLink online application (see Step 1)


b. If you have currently achieved 10 or more credit points in your current course i.e. total of any previous advance standing and passed units in your current course: Submit Course Transfer online via CDU eForms

For VET students
  1. Submit an online application via StudyLink for the new course
  2. Upload a Statement of Purpose for Course Change (PDF 127KB) as an attachment in the online application

Helpful links

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, is 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 Home Affairs

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