Prospective international students

Prospective international students


Charles Darwin University is privileged to educate more than 22,000 students in Australia’s tropical north and central desert regions. The university has all of the advantages of a new generation multi sector university, including vigour, creativity, flexibility and freedom from the constraints of tradition. Its true character and richness stems from its location in the Northern Territory of Australia.

International students have the option of being able to study at locations in Darwin, Palmerston, Melbourne and Sydney. The largest campus is in Darwin: a youthful, multicultural, cosmopolitan, and robust, tropical city in a territory that is steeped in Aboriginal tradition and culture and which enjoys a close interaction with the peoples of Southeast Asia.

With international students from over 55 countries you will have the opportunity to study in a multicultural environment that will add richness to your international experience.

General Living Expenses

Students should not expect to fund their studies or living costs in Australia through part-time employment. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) recommends a single student should budget $20,290 per year for living cost. A married student will need an additional $7,100 per year for a spouse and $3,040 for a child.

Your cost of living and studying in Australia will depend on the lifestyle you choose to lead. Generally, allow between $20,000 and $25,000 per year for your living expenses. Also budget $500 approximately for books and stationery each semester.

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Your Student Visa

Your Student Visa

Your student visa is the document issued to you by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) 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 maintain these during your time at CDU.

Find out more information about student visa conditions.

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, and provided consistency amongst institutions across Australia. This is provided by 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 provide
  • Report students who do not comply with student visa conditions to the Department of Home Affairs

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 Home Affairs 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 date 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 on this matter, see International student fee payment.

Notifying University of any change of address

Students are required to notify the university within 7 days, of any change of address or phone number. This is compulsory, as the university must always hold your most up to date personal details in order to facilitate any enquiries from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Notifying University of change of provider

If students change education provider, they are required to notify the University within 7 days, of receiving the new electronic confirmation of enrolment certificate or evidence of enrolment.   

Maintaining Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

Having yourself and your dependents 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 on this, have a look at Staying Covered (OSHC).

Timely communication with University regarding issues affecting your enrolment

CDU understands that issues may arise during your time in Australia that can impact your studies. It is important to remember, however, 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 an intermission.

Monitoring external study load correctly to remain below 25% external

International student visa holders are not permitted to study more that 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 by which you should complete.  To ensure you complete your degree in the allotted duration, 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.

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 Home Affairs website.

When the university is on an official break, you are able to work unlimited hours. Breaks for Higher Education students are available on the CDU website under Important Dates. When viewing these dates, it is important to note that you are only permitted to work unlimited hours between 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 following fact sheet from the Australian Government Private Health Ombudsman.

For any queries in relation to 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 on

International student fee payment

International student fees are stated on your letter of offer and CoE prior to commencing at CDU. Fees are required to be paid by the first day of classes each semester in full. If you are unable to pay by this date, you are required to apply for tuition fees extension online via:

The University reserves the right to review and adjust tuition fees. Any revised tuition fee is effective from the beginning of Term 1/Semester 1 of each calendar year and will apply to all commencing and continuing students. If you have paid for two semesters in advance, you will be liable for payment of any difference when you enrol in the new calendar year. If you choose to defer your commencement to a later date, you will pay the tuition fees applicable to the year in which you enrol.

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 capable to pay their fees. Financial struggle is not able to be considered when assessing other applications such as CoE extension and Reduced study load for this reason.

External study restrictions

As per the National Code Student visa holders are restricted from studying more than one-third or 33% of their course on an external basis. This includes the following:

  • Studies undertaken in CDU on external mode in any semester or study period
  • Outgoing cross- institutional enrolment
It is important to remember that if you receive advanced standing, these units do not count towards your study at CDU and should thus not be included in your external study calculations.
Moreover, you also need to be enrolled in at least 1 internal (on-campus) unit in each compulsory study period. The academic year at CDU consists of the following:
  • 2 compulsory study periods: Semester 1 and Semester 2 
  • 1 non-compulsory study period: Summer Semester 
Monitoring your external enrolment is your responsibility during your enrolment at CDU, and exceeding this enrolment may have serious implications on your student visa. Ensure that you adhere to your study plan at all times, and plan ahead for your external enrolments.

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.

Your cross-institutional enrolment will be counted towards your external study load so please ensure you monitor your external enrolment to not exceed the allowable limit.

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 are able to 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 request a Course Cancellation at Charles Darwin University.

To request a 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 7 days of receiving the new electronic Confirmation of Enrolment certificate or evidence of enrolment.

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. Students may need to apply to extend your studies in order to obtain a new electronic Confirmation of Enrolment  (CoE) from Charles Darwin University. For further information on student visas please visit the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) website.

Please note that DIBP gives priority to visa applications lodged online. Please visit the Department of Home Affairs - 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, Charles Darwin University has offered to write a letter of invitation on your behalf. 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 Home Affairs. This letter can be submitted alongside any supporting documents, including a certified copy of your passport, and details of the visit (ie. graduation details).

The below template is designed to provide all of the necessary information to the Department of Home Affairs:

< 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.

Schooling arrangement for school-age dependents

The Department of Home Affairs requires that dependent children between the ages of six and eighteen attend school on a full-time basis as a condition of the dependent visa.

Each State and Territory has different requirements for school-aged dependants and information about this can be accessed on each Government Education website.

Admission of Younger Students

International students under the age of eighteen (18) years of age will not be accepted where they are not being cared for in Australia by a parent or legal guardian.

Applicants and their parent or legal guardian must provide a completed Confirmation of Guardianship and Guardian Details form with the online application.      

Changes to your enrolment

During your time at CDU, you may wish to make changes to your enrolment (e.g. reducing units, changing course, studying cross institutionally or extending your CoE).

Extending your studies (CoE Extension)

A Confirmation of Enrolment is a legal document produced by a Registered Education Provider which indicates the full time duration of a program. International students on student visas are expected to complete their program by the course end date identified on their Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE).

In order to complete the program of study by the designated course end date, a higher education student needs to enrol and successfully complete 40 credit points per semester. VET students are required to complete the required number of hours and successfully complete all units of study.  In some instances, international students may not be able to successfully complete their program within the duration outlined on their CoE. In these cases, the student would need to apply for a new CoE. Reasons for this might include:

  • Failed units
  • Ongoing placement
  • Approved reduced study load

In cases such as these, students will need to apply for a new CoE to complete their studies internally. If a student applies and does not have sufficient reason for requiring a CoE, or has not demonstrated a full time study load previously, their application will be assessed more thoroughly.

In order to apply for a CoE extension, students can complete an online CoE extension application form and provide the following evidence/documentation:

  • Detailed explanation of the circumstances leading to this request i.e. why were you unable to complete your program within the normal duration

If you have any questions in relation to this process, please contact the International Support Team via email at

APPLY ONLINE: CoE Application

Subject selection

The Academic Liaison Unit are best placed to provide you with advice regarding subject selection. They can provide you with an individual study plan that will guide you throughout your program and assist when enrolling.

To find out more information regarding the services offered by the Academic Liaison Unit please visit their website.

Trouble enrolling?

If you are having difficulties enrolling into subjects, please visit the Student Central for further advice.

They are located at Orange 1, Casuarina Campus or you can email them at

Reducing your enrolment

As an international student, it is expected that you will complete your program of study within the duration outlined on your CoE. This means that all international students are required to undertake a load of 40 credit points per semester.

Each application for reduced study load is assessed on a case by case basis by the international support team. If you wish to make an application you can do so by completing the application for reduced study load application form.

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

  •  Compassionate or compelling circumstances (e.g. illness, disability bereavement, traumatic experience). This must be supported by recent and thorough medical evidence, detailing the medical condition and the nature and duration of treatment being carried out for this. If you wish to keep this information confidential, this may be sighted by our CDU counsellors for confirmation.
  • Inability to enrol in 40 credit points due to course structure or limited subject availability as confirmed by the Academic Liaison Unit. If units are unavailable in a semester, you are required to communicate with the Office of International Services on this issue to allow the impact on your CoE to be reviewed.
  • You are identified as a student at risk of achieving unsatisfactory progress and a Learning Management Plan (LMP) has been put in place. If you have achieved unsatisfactory course progress and been identified as under Progression, you will likely be issued an LMP to assist in getting back on track with your studies. This is issued by the Progression team, and automatically approves you for a reduced study load. This does not need to be reviewed by the Office of International Services before reducing your enrolment.

If you wish to reduce your study load you will need to complete a reduced study load application form, to be formally assessed by the Office of International Services.

APPLY ONLINE: Reduced Study Load

Changing course

Making the decision to change your program is an important one and should be thoroughly researched. When making the decision to change programs it is beneficial to meet with the Course Coordinator of the program that you wish to transfer to. This meeting is important as you will be able to discuss topics like credit transfer, duration of program and entry requirements.

Higher Education:

In order to apply to change your course, current international students will need to submit a new application for the new course online at

Please include the followings:

We will assess your application after grade release date. For grade release date of the current semester, please visit

Note: To be eligible to change your program, you must meet all the admission requirements (i.e. academic, English and GTE criteria) of the course that you are applying for.

Deferment or temporary suspension of enrolment

The Office of International Services may grant requests for deferment or temporary suspension of enrolment on the grounds of compassionate or compelling circumstances.

Compassionate or compelling circumstances are generally those beyond the control of the student which have an impact upon the student’s course progress or wellbeing, including but not limited to:

  • Serious illness or injury, where a medical certificate states that the student is unable to attend classes;
  • Bereavement of close family members such as parents or grandparents (where possible a death certificate should be provided);
  • Major political upheaval or natural disaster in the home country requiring emergency travel and this has impacted on the student’s studies;
  • A traumatic experience, which could include: o Involvement in, or witnessing of a serious accident; or o Witnessing or being the victim of a serious crime and this has impacted on the student (these case should be supported by police or psychologists’ reports)
  • Where the University is unable to offer a pre-requisite unit; or
  • Inability to commence the course due to delay in receiving a student visa.

Cancellation of Enrolment by the University

The University may cancel the enrolment of a student:

  • Who fails to re-enrol or who has not been granted a temporary suspension of studies or a deferment;
  • Who is found guilty of misconduct; or
  • For non-payment of fees