Choosing to study abroad is a big decision for students. It requires a lot of money, time, and hard work. Despite thorough research, discovering a more fitting choice upon starting studies abroad can take time and effort.
Feeling dissatisfied with your current academic journey? Some international students may find themselves in this situation. Will International students in Australia allow to switch their courses or universities? This article will let you about this question below.
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Navigating Course Changes within the Same Institution
When switching courses within the same university, consider these two critical scenarios:
Transitioning to a Similar or Higher Course Level:
Switching to a course at the same AQF level or higher is straightforward. Express your intent to your provider; if you are studying at the same provider institution, if they approve, you can enrol in a new course, and they will update your new course with the Department of Home Affairs. No new visa application is required in this case until your visa expires.
Shifting to a Lower-Level Course:
If you are transitioning courses from a higher AQF to a low AQF level requires a new student visa (e.g., from Bachelor to a Diploma course).
Approval for course change:
You cannot switch to a course involving critical technology without obtaining prior approval (condition 8208).
Changing to a New Institution
Changing provider involves several steps and conditions based on the visa granted via enrollment confirmation. Key points include:
- You must complete six months of principal courses before transferring to a new provider.
- If you have not completed the principal course, you must have a release letter from your current provider to get admission to a new institution
Your Student (subclass 500) visa comes with various conditions:
- You are limited in the work you can engage in (condition 8105).
- It's essential to meet the requirements of your enrolled course (condition 8202).
- You cannot switch to a course involving critical technology without obtaining prior approval (condition 8208).
- Maintaining health insurance is mandatory (condition 8501).
- Ensuring continuous eligibility for your visa is a requirement (condition 8516).
- Providing education for any dependents is obligatory (condition 8517).
- If you're under 18, welfare approval is necessary (condition 8532).
- You must keep your education provider informed about your current address (condition 8533).
A comprehensive explanation of each of these visa conditions is included in this correspondence. You can verify these conditions using the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service. The four-digit identifiers listed next to each condition are used in VEVO to identify them for this specific Student (subclass 500) visa.
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Students must maintain their visa conditions if they plan to change course/ institution. Students have to attend their classes and exam regularly. Your admission to a new institution might only be rejected if your academic performance is weak at the previous provider.
A student will typically require a new student visa if they intend to switch their primary course of study to either:
- A course at a lower Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) level.
- A course that doesn't fall under the AQF framework (non-AQF course).
Obtaining a release letter from the current institution is necessary for students who aim to change institutions before completing their 6 months of principal course.
In cases where a student applies for a Diploma program that leads to a Bachelor's Degree, the initial six months of the Bachelor's Degree program will be considered the student's principal course.
Similarly, if a student applies for a Diploma leading to an Advanced Diploma, the first six months of the Advanced Diploma will be regarded as the student's principal course.
Likewise, if a student enrols in a Graduate Diploma program that ultimately leads to a Master's Degree, the initial six months of the Master's Degree program will be designated as the student's principal course.
Things to remember
Changing Courses and Institutions for International Students in Australia
- Changing to a lower AQF level or non-AQF course requires a new visa.
- No new visa is needed for the same or higher AQF levels or AQF 10 to AQF 9.
- A new visa is needed for lower-level or non-AQF transfers.
- Students need complete 6 months of the principal course or need to release a letter from the current provider (if not completed the principal course) to change provider.
Essential Steps in the Transfer Process
- Consultation with Advisors: Speak with your international student advisor and an education counsellor to ensure informed decisions, potentially resolving concerns without transferring.
- Financial Evaluation: Assess all costs, settle dues, and understand refund policies.
- Visa Consideration: If necessary, apply for a new student visa to avoid legal complications.
- Documentation: Secure essential documents like a 'Letter of Release' from the original institution if needed, an offer letter from the new one, and any additional documents requested.
- Parent/Guardian Involvement: If under 18, include a transfer request letter from a parent/guardian.
- Take help if needed: You can take the help of a qualified education agent / registered migration agent if you need guidance.
What if my transfer request is rejected?
If your institution rejects your transfer request, you can appeal their decision through an internal appeals and complaints process. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can escalate the matter to your state or territory Ombudsman or the Overseas Student Ombudsman for further assistance and resolution.
Will the change of university impact my post-study work rights?
Changing institutions should not significantly impact your post-study work rights. As long as you meet the required education and visa requirements for post-study work visas, such as the Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485), changing universities is unlikely to affect your eligibility.
However, it's crucial to review the specific visa guidelines and requirements of the Department of Home Affairs to ensure compliance.
If I change courses, will it affect my student loan?
If you have taken out an international student loan, the impact of changing courses on your loan may vary depending on the terms and conditions of the loan provider.
It's advisable to contact your loan provider directly to discuss how changing courses could affect your loan repayment terms and any other financial arrangements.
Will changing courses affect my student visa?
Changing courses within the same or higher Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) level should be fine with your student visa status. However, if you intend to switch to a lower-level or non-AQF course, you may be required to apply for a new student visa.
Always consult with your current institution's international student advisors or the Department of Home Affairs to ensure you understand the visa implications of changing courses.
Do I need to pay to change courses or university?
Changing courses or institutions may involve financial considerations. There could be fees associated with transferring internally within your current institution or enrolling in a new institution.
Additionally, specific application or administrative fees may apply. It's recommended to inquire about potential costs with your current and prospective institutions before proceeding with a change.
Where can I get advice about my visa?
If you need guidance or advice about your visa, it's advisable to seek assistance from experienced professionals. You can consult registered migration agents who specialise in providing visa-related information and support to international students. These experts can help you navigate visa requirements and ensure that you make informed decisions.
What documents do I need to change to a new university?
The documents required for changing universities may vary based on individual institutions' policies. If you have been studying for less than six months and wish to change institutions, you may need a formal letter of release from your current institution.
Additionally, you might need to provide any documents specified by the new institution's transfer policy. Suppose you're changing to the same or higher-level AQF course after studying for over six months. In that case, your education provider will handle the transfer documentation with the Department of Home Affairs.
Can I move interstate for university?
You can move interstate within Australia to study at a different university. Moving interstate is usually similar to changing institutions within the same state. You should follow the transfer policies of your current and prospective institutions, ensuring you have all necessary documentation and approvals.
Can I study at two universities at once?
While your Student visa requires a Confirmation of Enrollment (CoE) from a single education provider, you can study at two universities concurrently with proper authorisation. Suppose you wish to pursue studies at more than one institution.
In that case, it's essential to communicate directly with your original institution to understand any potential impacts on your student visa and academic commitments.