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Reduced study load (student visa holders)

Your student visa requires you to complete your course within the time specified in your electronic confirmation of enrolment (eCoE). This means you need to be enrolled in a full-time study load of 24 credit points per semester. However, in certain circumstances you may be able to apply to reduce your study load.


In some circumstances you can apply to reduce your study load for compassionate or compelling reasons, such as:

  • serious illness or injury
  • death of a close family member
  • if your faculty or school is unable to offer any other units of study because of the structure of your program
  • if, due to previously failed units, an academic adviser from your faculty or school recommends your study load be reduced to make sure you successfully complete your remaining units of study. In this case a formal Intervention Strategy may be applied to you.

You cannot reduce your study load for reasons relating to finances or work (outside your studies). You will need to provide supporting documents with your application. A request without evidence of compassionate or compelling circumstances will not be approved.

If receiving a waiver has reduced your study load, speak with an academic adviser about enrolling in a unit in its place.

Receiving credit for previous study or completing a Summer or Winter School unit is not a valid reason alone for reducing your study load. If you have 24 credit points available to enrol in for each semester, then you are required to undertake them. However, if none of your remaining units are available to make up 24 credit points, then you may apply to reduce your study load. This will likely be in your final semester.

Remember that reducing your enrolment load may lengthen the time it takes for you to finish your course. This may mean you need to request another eCoE to extend your visa.

How to apply

Before applying, you should seek some advice from an academic advisor or international compliance officer.

If you decide to reduce your study load, you need to apply through Sydney Student (go to ‘My studies’, ‘Units of study’, then ‘Apply to reduce your study load’).

Make sure you apply with enough time for the application to be processed before the census date.

Supporting documents

When applying to reduce your study load, you’ll need to provide the following supporting documents. Your faculty or school may require additional documents.

An overseas medical certificate issued in a language other than English needs to be translated into English by the National Accreditation Authorirty for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) or an overseas notary department with a common seal.

Reason for application

Type of documents needed

Serious illness or injury

Professional Practitioner’s Certificate (pdf, 320KB) or a signed letter from an appropriate doctor on letterhead

Compelling circumstances that have resulted in you missing two weeks of study or more

Any relevant documents such as doctor’s certificates, statutory declarations or police reports

You have previously been identified as not meeting academic progression requirements

Supporting documents not necessary

Where you haven’t yet failed any units but your performance indicates an upcoming failure, you'll need to provide an assessment piece as evidence of your performance in that unit. If you can’t find an assessment piece, contact an academic adviser.

You are unable to enrol in a full-time load due to availability of units of study

Supporting documents not necessary

You have previously completed a unit of study in Summer or Winter School and you are in your final semester of study

Supporting documents not necessary

What happens next

Your application will be assessed within 10 working days. We will email you the outcome of your application to your University email address.

If you are granted a reduced study load, you will be withdrawn from your selected unit. You will also be withdrawn from any units where your requested unit is a requirement. This may affect your expected course duration and may result in you requiring a new electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) for visa extension purposes. The University may need to notify the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. If your application is declined, you will be provided with the reason for this decision.

Help and support

Before you apply to reduce your study load, speak with our international compliance officers for advice. You can also contact an academic adviser.

If you’re struggling academically or personally, the University has many services that can support you, such as the Learning Centre or Counselling and Psychological Services.

Student Centre

Level 3, Jane Foss Russell Building, Darlington Campus
Opening hours: 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday

Extended in-person enquiries (during exams):
Monday to Friday
8.30am to 6pm.
8.30am to 2.30pm.
Last updated: 13 November 2017

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