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Compliance and enrolment

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.


Study conditions for your student visa

Maintain an active Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE)

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).

An international student who is on a student visa must always have a valid CoE – even if your visa is still valid. If your CoE finishes or is cancelled before your student visa expires, your visa is at risk of being cancelled because you have no CoE. 

Please ensure that you comply with all of your enrolment obligations to ensure that your CoE is not cancelled. If your CoE is due to finish you can request an extension - please see CoE extension below.

Remain enrolled in a registered course

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.

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.

As a student visa holder, it is required that students remain financially able to pay their fees. 
International student fees are stated in your letter of offer and CoE before commencing at CDU. Fees must be paid in full by the census date of the relevant teaching period. If you are unable to pay by this date, you must apply for a tuition fees extension online. 
Please note that financial struggle cannot be considered when assessing other applications such as CoE Extension and Reduced Study Load.

Enrolment policy 
The CDU Enrolment Policy outlines the process for administering students' enrolments at CDU. It includes general information about enrolment, student initiated changes to enrolment, and university initiated changes. University initiated changes can include deferring, suspending, or cancelling a student's enrolment.

To read more about changes to enrolment, refer to the CDU Enrolment Policy
CDU Enrolment Policy

If you have any questions regarding enrolling or payment of your fees, please contact Student Central

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 officially 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.

CDU TAFE Students

International students are required to complete the prescribed units of competency in a nationally recognised qualification or accredited TAFE course, within the expected duration, before being eligible for the granting of a University Award. To progress satisfactorily and maintain a full-time TAFE study load, international students must demonstrate competency in fifty percent (50%) or more of enrolled units of competency in each teaching period.

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

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.

Enrolment obligations

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.

Completing your course on time

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 course 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 in a Higher Education course, or 20 contact hours in a TAFE or non-award course.

The academic year at CDU consists of 2 compulsory study periods, Semester 1 and Semester 2, and 1 non-compulsory study period, Summer Semester for Higher Education programs, and 4 Terms for VET courses.

If you are unable to maintain a full-time load of 40 credit points (for Higher Education) or 20 contact hours (for TAFE or non-award), 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. 

Please note that if you under-enroll without approval or do not follow your study plan you will not be eligible for a CoE extension if required. For these reasons, it is very important to remain enrolled on a full-time basis and/or as per your approved study plan.

Study mode - online and distance learning

Students can study up to one-third of their total course 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, or if the student is completing the last unit of their course that is only available online.

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.

Reduced study load

Higher Education

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 cannot 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 per the National Code requirements and can only be approved 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, or 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 the non-compulsory study period AND able to complete by the 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 Semesters 1 & 2 and Summer Semester study is optional, you do not need permission to reduce your 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


VET courses will be considered for a Reduced Study Load on a case-by-case basis. Please discuss this with your Course Coordinator.


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 8 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.

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, the relevant years’ 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 an Unsatisfactory Progress notice, course transfer/ change will not be processed until the progression process is completed. Refer to Higher Education Students - Academic Progression Procedures
COVID-19 visa support

The Department of Home Affairs is implementing support for COVID-19 impacted students through the ability to apply for nil-fee student visa. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will waive the visa application fee to allow you to lodge a further student visa application to complete your study. This will be available to students who held a student visa on or after 1st February 2020 and who couldn’t complete their course within their original visa validity due to the impacts of COVID-19. This includes students who:

  • deferred their study as they were unable to enter Australia due to travel restrictions 
  • were forced to reduce to a part-time study load 
  • were unable to complete their work-based training or placements. 

This measure is not intended for students who are applying for a new student visa due to ordinary reasons (including if you have failed a course or a unit of study, deferred for personal reasons, or voluntarily reduced your study load.) 

To have your visa waived under this scheme you will need to provide the Department of Home Affairs a copy of the Form 1545 signed by CDU when you apply for your new visa. To see more about the application process read: How do students apply?

Apply online: Application for Form 1545 signed by CDU
Please attach supporting documents such as evidence of your arrival flights into Australia if your travel was restricted, documentation of communication around your part-time study load or placements being delayed.
Please be aware that the Form 1545 COVID-19 Impacted Students can only be granted to you by CDU Compliance Coordinator – CDU Global if you have met the criteria set by the Department of Home Affairs. 

Can students apply for a nil-VAC student visa from overseas?  
Students can be in or outside Australia when they apply. 

Can students who have already applied for a Student visa apply for a refund? 
Refunds will not be available for Students who have already applied for a Student visa. Only new applications will be eligible for a visa fee-waiver. 

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.

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, 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.

Personal conditions for your student visa

Keep your contact and address details up to date

Within seven (7) days of your arrival, and at any time after you arrive if your details change, you must notify CDU of:

  • your Australian residential address
  • your mobile phone number
  • an emergency contact number.

Your details can be updated in MyStudentInfo. This is to make sure that any important correspondence sent by CDU reaches you at your current location.

Maintain your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) 

You must maintain valid Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the full duration of your course(s) and until your visa expiry date. You must not let your OSHC cover lapse at any time while you are studying in Australia. It is your responsibility to renew and maintain your OSHC for the full duration of your course(s). It is important that you provide your OSHC provider with your up-to-date contact details, particularly your email address.

Work only the number of hours permitted by your visa

Please refer to your visa for your personal work limitations. Most students have condition 8105: you can work up to 48 hours in a fortnight (every consecutive 2 weeks) when your course is in session.

Undergraduate and masters students can only work up to 48 hours per fortnight once you have started your studies, or when your course is in session, unless you are taking a work placement – Work Integrated Learning (WIL) unit – which is part of your course. 
It is recommended that you feel confident and comfortable about your studies before pursuing work.

Outlined below are some exceptions to these obligations.

  • There are no work limits applied during Summer Semester, as Summer Semester is not a compulsory study period, unless you are enrolled in one or more units in this semester, or you commenced your course in Summer Semester, in which case you are then only allowed to work up to 48 hours per fortnight.

Please see the Department of Home Affairs website for more information on work limitations: Check visa details and conditions (

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