Student Visas: When Can I Change My Provider?

Student Visas: When Can I Change My Provider?

The National Code under the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) framework details a vast number of regulations that affect international students on study visas. Of particular interest and not as well known as it should be, Standard 7 under National Code 2018 covers international students who wish to transfer from one education provider to another and the rules that govern this.

To have obtained your Student Visa (subclass 500), you would have had to be enrolled in a CRICOS registered Australian education provider and would have had to provide your Certificate of Enrolment (CoE) as proof. As such your application is based on your completing a particular course with a particular provider – all of which would have been assessed alongside other factors to determine if you are a genuine student.

Read: Non-Genuine Student? You Are Not Only Assessed In The Requirements For Your Visa But Whilst You Are A Holder.

In keeping in line with the above in minimising the chances that Australia accepts non genuine students, an international student is not able to transfer from their educational institute to another until after that student has completed at least 6 months of their principal course.

6 month requirement

Your principal course is the main course of study undertaken by an international student where a student visa has been issued for multiple courses of study. The principal course of study is generally taken to be the final course of study and every course of study leading up to to the final course of study has the above 6 month transfer requirement apply. The first 6 months is calculated as 6 calendar months from the date an overseas student commences their principal course.

If you were to engage in modules not related to your principal course, you would not be completing your module to reach that 6 month requirement.

Once an overseas student has met the 6 month requirement, they can change their provider and should notify the Department of Home Affairs (DOHA) of their doing so.

It is important to note that if the international student wants to transfer their education provider and study at a course that is at a lower Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) level (such as moving from a Masters course to a Bachelors) then they are required to apply for a new student visa.

If 6 month requirement is not met

An international student looking to change their education provider before they have completed 6 months of their principal course will need to request a release from their current education provider.

Otherwise, they must meet one of the following conditions:

  • The releasing provider, or the course in which the international student is enrolled in is ceased to be CRICOS registered
  • The releasing registered provider has had a sanction imposed on its registration by the ESOS agency that prevents the overseas student from continuing their course with that registered provider
  • Any government sponsor of the overseas student considers the change to be in the overseas student’s best interest and has provided written support for the change. This usually applied where the overseas student’s study in Australia is sponsored by the government of another country.

School sector courses

International students enrolled in school sector courses. These students can only transfer between registered providers after completing 6 months of their first school course. If they wish to transfer, they must obtain a release from their registered provider or meet one of the above conditions.

For example, if an overseas student has to complete a non school sector course prior to their first school sector course, such as English Language Intensive Courses of Overseas Students (ELICOS), they are unable to transfer courses during this time.

Assessment of international student transfer requests

The registered education providers policy for assessing transfer requests must be made available to its staff and overseas students and should outline the steps for an overseas student to lodge a written request to transfer. Each education provider should also outline what circumstances under which it is considers the student’s best interest to transfer.

Here are some examples of what this looks like:

Read: UNSW Overseas Student Transfers Policy

Read: UniMelb International Student Transfer Policy

Read: UWA Student Transfer Request – Assessment Policy and Procedure

The student should have a letter of offer from another registered education provider that they should apply in their transfer request.

Circumstances where it is in the international student’s best interest

Examples of compassionate and compelling circumstances include:

  • Serious illness or injury, where a medical certificate states that the overseas student was 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 overseas student’s studies; or
  • A traumatic experience, which could include:
    • involvement in, or witnessing of a serious accident; or
    • witnessing or being the victim of a serious crime, and this has impacted on the overseas student (these cases should be supported by police or psychologists’ reports)
  • Where the registered provider was unable to offer a pre-requisite unit, or the overseas student has failed a prerequisite unit and therefore faces a shortage of relevant units for which they are eligible to enrol

Circumstances where the transfer request should be granted

  • The registered provider fails to deliver the course as outlined in the written agreement
  • There is evidence that the overseas student’s reasonable expectations about their current course are not being met (such as correspondence between the overseas student and the registered provider or marketing materials given to the overseas student prior to enrolment, and setting particular expectations about the course);
  • There is evidence that the overseas student was misled by the registered provider or an education or migration agent regarding the registered provider or its course, and the course is therefore unsuitable to their needs and/or study objectives
  • An appeal (internal or external) on another matter results in a decision or recommendation to release the overseas student.

Transfer requested and packaged courses

If a transfer affects the start dates of any subsequent courses covered by a visa, the overseas student must also be released from those courses, or gain the new registered education provider’s agreement to delay their start in those courses.

Transfers involving students under 18

If the international student is under the age of 18, the transfer application must include written confirmation that the overseas student’s parent or legal guardian supports the transfer. If the overseas student does not have a parent of legal guardian caring for them in Australia, there must also be confirmation from the new provider that it accepts responsibility for the student’s accommodation and welfare arrangements.

Are you wanting to transfer to a new education provider or need help with your student visa? Our migration specialists will be able tell you more about getting a student visas and what it entails, such as the visa conditions that would apply to you. Call now to get tailored advice on +61 2 8054 2537, 0434 890 199 or book online today to speak to our migration specialists.

Karl Konrad