Enrolment changes - International students


Reducing load

Under ESOS legislation student visa holders are required to complete their course within the duration specified in their electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCOE). As such, mandatory student visa condition 8202 requires full time study to be undertaken.

Therefore students visa holders must be enrolled in 100% of a full-time study load (24 credit points). There are limited exceptional circumstances where student visa holders may apply to reduce study load and only if documentary evidence is provided.

Some examples of exceptional circumstances are:

  • Compassionate or compelling reasons, which may include:
    - serious illness or injury, where a medical certificate states that the student was unable to attend classes
    - bereavement of close family members such as parents or grandparents (death certificates required)
    - major political upheaval or natural disaster in the home country requiring emergency travel when this has impacted on the student's studies
    - a traumatic experience.
  • Due to the structure of the program, the faculty is unable to offer a prerequisite unit
  • The faculty has implemented an intervention strategy where an academic adviser believes that the reduction of study load will ensure successful completion of remaining units.
  • You have been granted credit(s) from previous studies and will complete your studies on time
  • You have completed Summer/Winter School unit of study at some point in time and do not have 24 credit points of study available to enrol in. (Note that enrolment in Summer/Winter School does not allow you to subsequently spread your study load throughout the year).

You must apply to reduce your load via your Student Portal and you will be required to provide supporting documentation for your application, such as medical certificates, evidence of academic counselling, itinerary etc.

Reducing your enrolment load may affect your expected course duration and may result in you requiring another electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCOE) to extend your visa. The International Student Advisers are able to provide further advice on how a reduced load may impact your eCOE and consequently your student visa. See "How to schedule a meeting with us" if you wish to meet with an International Student Adviser.


Online / distance e-learning

Student visa holders may undertake no more than 25% of their total course by distance and/or online learning and must not enrol in exclusively distance or online study in any compulsory study period. In other words, 75% or more of your studies must be completed in class via face to face learning.

If you are a recipient of the US Federal Direct Loan you must not enrol in any units of study offered by online or distance delivery if you wish to remain eligible for federal student aid. An educational program is not an eligible program for purposes of US Federal student aid if it is provided by correspondence, blended learning or distance education in whole or in part. For more information please visit International Loans & US VA Benefits or contact the .


Leave of absence / suspension

If you are unable temporarily to continue with your studies for personal or medical reasons you may under strict conditions be eligible to apply for leave of absence or suspension of studies. Please contact your respective faculty advisers for approval. If you are requesting a Leave of Absence or Suspension for medical, compelling or compassionate reasons, you must provide supporting documentation to the faculty. Such reasons may include but are not limited to: maternity or extreme health related issues that prevent you from attending class, required military service in your home country, misconduct requiring suspension, failure to obtain a student visa.

All applications for suspension require documentary evidence to be submitted.

If you suspend your studies your eCoE will be cancelled. Therefore you may be required to leave Australia and you may be subject to visa cancellation.

You may be required to reapply for your visa when you are ready to resume study. Students who are resuming studies following an approved leave of absence or suspension are advised to apply to recommence at least two months in advance in order to obtain a new eCoE. You can apply to recommence through the Sydney Student Portal, which can be accessed via MyUni. Click on ‘My Studies’ > ‘Course Details’ then follow the link to return from suspension.


Discontinuation / withdrawal from the degree

You will need to log in to Sydney Student and apply to discontinue from your course. Discontinuation of studies requires the University to cancel your eCoE and this will affect your ability to remain in Australia under your current student visa. You will need to contact the Department of Immigration within 28 days about alternate visa arrangements or return to your home country.

If you apply to discontinue your enrolment within the first 6 months of your principle course of study to take up an offer at another university, you must first obtain an official Release letter (see below link for more details)


Early completion

In some situations students may be able to complete their course early. For example students may be granted credit towards their degree from previous studies. Students who complete their course before the expected enrolment completion date are identified as early completion. The University is required to notify the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) of these students' early completion and their eCoE will be cancelled.


Release Letter Request

Transfer between education providers in Australia within the first six (6) months.
According to the National Code 2007, international students who were granted a student visa under the streamlined visa processing (SVP) scheme, must maintain their enrolment in an SVP-eligible course (principle or package of courses) with an education provider participating in the SVP arrangements. International students wishing to transfer to another education provider within the first six (6) months of their course, must obtain a 'release letter' from the University of Sydney.
Your request to transfer must be to an SVP-eligible course with an education provider participating in the Streamlined Visa Processing (SVP) scheme. For a full list of SVP providers please visit the Department of Immigration's website.

Important information


Applying for a release
- You must read the International Student Change of Provider Policy before starting your application.
- Complete the Application for Release Letter Form and attach relevant document(s).
- Attach a separate statement (A4, typed and signed) providing the reason(s) for your release application.
- Attach a copy of your new offer letter from another education provider (the alternative course must be an SVP-eligible provider).
- Attach a letter of approval from your government/other sponsor supporting the proposed transfer (applicable for sponsored students only).
- Under-18 students must have written confirmation from their legal guardian or parent to transfer. If you are under 18 at the time of request and not being cared for in Australia by a parent or suitable nominated relative, the receiving registered provider must accept responsibility for approving your accommodation, support and general welfare arrangements as per Standard 5. Your new offer letter must note this responsibility.


A Release Letter cannot be issued if:
- your request is to transfer to a course or an education provider not participating in the Streamlined Visa Processing (SVP) scheme;
- you have an outstanding debt to the University (debts include all fees, loans, and library fines);
- The University of Sydney determines that the transfer would be detrimental to your future study plans;
- the new program of study is at a lower academic level than the original program packaged with the University of Sydney (e.g. from a masters-level to a graduate-diploma-level course);
- the gap between the last day of your current course and the commencement date of your new course is greater than 8 weeks;
- The University of Sydney withdrew its offer of admission due to the submission of fraudulent, incomplete or inconsistent documents with your application for admission; or if you did not meet your attendance requirements, obligations or other key provider requirements;
- you have not attached all necessary supporting documents.