International students' responsibilities

You have particular responsibilities as an international student that are related to the conditions of your student visa.

Below is a summary of information that you should familiarise yourself with via Department of Home Affairs and La Trobe University's Policies.

While it is your responsibility to ensure that you comply with your visa conditions, the University is also obliged to monitor your enrolment and notify Department of Home Affairs of any breaches.

Department of Home Affairs may cancel your student visa if you are found to have breached your visa conditions.

Your responsibilities to notify La Trobe anytime your student enrolment is going to be affected, include:

  • maintaining enrolment
  • underload of enrolment
  • academic progress
  • paying tuition fees on time to ensure you remain enrolled
  • notifying the University of any change of address
  • maintaining visa length Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)
  • leave of absence
  • online and distance education
  • transfer of course
  • discontinuation
  • applying for a release letter
  • early completions.

Enrolment

Maintain enrolment

Under the legislation, National Code 2018 [external link], you are expected to complete your course by the course end date specified on your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). This means that you can only reduce your study load by demonstrating "compassionate and compelling" circumstances or the University’s Intervention Strategy has been implemented as part of academic progress. The University can only extend the duration of your course in limited circumstances. A reduced load may result in the need to take up additional subjects in future sessions (summer/winter school, or be overloading) to complete your course in the time frame specified on your CoE.

Therefore, you must be enrolled in a full-time enrolment load in a registered course, for international student visa holders. At La Trobe, this means you should study 120 credit points (generally 8 subjects) per calendar year.

If you think that you will not be able to complete your course by the course end date on your CoE, you must contact your Course Coordinator/Course Advisor immediately so an appropriate intervention strategy can be implemented. To extend your CoE you will need to follow the steps indicated.

If you do not abide by these requirements, you may not be able to apply for another student visa to complete your course, should you need to extend your enrolment.

Underloading enrolment

To meet your student visa obligations, you must:

  • maintain a study load of 60 credit points in each semester or each half year period (First half is January to June and second half is July to December).
  • be enrolled in at least one subject each compulsory study period (e.g. Semester 1 or Semester 2) that is delivered on campus, only once approval has been granted to reduce your study load (underload)

Exemption to this standard load will require you to get an approved reduced study load by completing an Agreed Progression Plan (APP) with your Course Advisor or College.

To be eligible for reduced study load, reasons can include:

  • compassionate or compelling circumstances – guidelines outlined under the sub-heading Leave of Absence (below)
  • academic intervention.

All underloads must include current documentation to support your reason for a reduced study load. All supporting documents must be in English. Failure to provide documentation may lead to your student visa being cancelled.

Only exceptions to a standard study load are:

  • an approved leave of absence
  • suspension or credit point restriction due to progression issues, imposed by the University’s Progress Committee
  • when you are in your final semester and need less than 60 credit points to complete your course

Academic progress

All La Trobe students must maintain satisfactory academic progress according to University policy. As an international student visa holder, if you are excluded from your course because of unsatisfactory academic progress, the University must notify the Department of Home Affairs, which can lead to your student visa being cancelled.

In these circumstances, you will be notified by the University of the decision and your rights to appeal.  If you are facing exclusion or have already been reported to the Department of Home Affairs, please contact the La Trobe International for further guidance and assistance.

For further information to assist you, with questions around academic progress, please visit our academic progress page and the ASK La Trobe FAQ’s.

Pay tuition fees on time

It is a requirement of your student visa that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and to pay for your studies in Australia. If you do not pay your tuition fees on time, the University may cancel your enrolment and notify the Department of Home Affairs. This may lead to cancellation of your student visa. If you have trouble paying your fees, please contact the Fees Office or you can also make an appointment to discuss your options with International Student Services (ISS) team

Notify the University of any change of address

Student visa condition 8533, requires you to notify La Trobe of your residential address in Australia within seven days of:

  • arriving in Australia
  • changing your address.

You can update your contact details via StudentOnLine. All correspondence affecting your student status with La Trobe will predominantly be sent to your student email account but at times, paperwork may be sent via the post to the current address on file. The Department of Home Affairs also contacts the University to confirm your current address. If you do not update your address, your student visa could be affected without you knowing.

Maintaining visa length Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

You need to ensure your OSHC is valid throughout your studies in Australia. If you need to renew your coverage and your health provider is with OSHC Medibank, you can do this by making a payment directly to OSHC by Medibank [external link].

OSHC Medibank representatives are available on Melbourne Campus at La Trobe International, Level 3, Sylvia Walton Building on Monday to Thursday between 10am-4pm for advice, policy renewals/extensions and general assistance.

Early completions

If you have fast-tracked your course and completed a month or more earlier than your CoE course end date, you are expected to make arrangements to depart Australia or apply for a new visa. Further explanation and advice can be found at the Department of Home Affairs [external link].

Online and distance education

International students can enrol in online/distance education subjects when such subjects are offered as part of CRICOS-registered courses. However, there are limitations and exceptions:

  • online and distance education subjects can only make up one-third (rounded to 33%) of your total course
  • in each compulsory study period (e.g. Semester 1 or Semester 2), you must be enrolled in at least one subject delivered face-to-face
  • if it is your last subject to complete your course, you can enrol online/distance education and remain in Australia to complete your course.

In a non-compulsory study period (i.e. summer/winter school), you may enrol full-time in online/distance education subjects, but this will be counted towards your one-third limit (rounded to 33%) of your total course.

Please note: the rule applies to all completed units. It does not include failed units

Leave of Absence

About leave of absence

Leave of absence is an approved period of time during which you are not enrolled in any subjects. A student may be granted leave of absence for personal, compassionate or compelling circumstances beyond your control, during which they are not expected to be engaged in any study related activities. These circumstances include, but are not limited to:

  • serious illness or injury
  • bereavement of close family members such as parent or grandparent (where possible, a death certificate should be provided, and evidence of relationship to the deceased)
  • major political upheaval or natural disaster in your home country requiring emergency travel and this has impacted on your studies
  • 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 you significantly
  • where the registered provider was unable to offer a pre-requisite subject.

Leave of absence is available to international student visa holders studying onshore in Australia who have been granted their student visa and commenced their studies. You need to have a good reason for applying for a leave of absence, such as a serious and long-lasting illness, or an injury that stops you from studying.

Mild illnesses, holidays and employment commitments, are not considered acceptable reasons to apply for a leave of absence for international student visa holders.

If you hold an international student visa, you must remain enrolled and attend classes until you receive confirmation that your leave of absence has been granted.

If you're having trouble attending classes, please contact our International Student Services (ISS) team immediately, who can assist you and guide you about your options. You can also make a one-on-one appointment with an ISS Coordinator to discuss your situation in a confidential setting.

If you want to defer commencement of your course for one or two semesters (up to one year is permitted) after you have accepted your offer and your student visa has been granted, you must complete the Deferral of Course Commencement form, and provide evidence of compassionate or compelling circumstances that are preventing you from enrolling in your course on time. Deferring your course may affect your visa.

How taking time off may affect your visa

If you are granted leave, the University must notify the Department of Home Affairs of the changes to your enrolment. This can affect your student visa. The reasons for your leave will determine the implications for your student visa which is determined by the Department of Home Affairs.

You are encouraged to depart Australia within 28 days of the effective date of a Leave of Absence and return no sooner than 28 days before your new scheduled course commencement date. If you want to remain in Australia during your leave period, you need to contact the Department of Home Affairs to gain permission to stay in Australia or for further visa advice.

To apply for a Leave of Absence

In order to apply, you need to submit the following documentation:

  • complete the Leave of absence application form (submit online form)
  • documentary evidence to support this (list of examples below for medical and non-medical grounds)
  • CoE application – this is a requirement by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to demonstrate your intention to return to your studies
  • all documentation needs to be submitted via ASK La Trobe.

For leave on medical grounds because of a serious illness or injury, you need to provide one or more of the following documentary evidence/documents, depending on your situation:

  • medical certificate specifying:
    • date/period of time the condition impacted you (must cover the dates of the leave period)
    • date of consultation
    • an indication of whether the diagnosis is based on examination by the practitioner
    • level of impact (e.g. minor, moderate or severe)
    • medical practitioner's Medicare provider number
    • if for a parent/grandparent/close relative – certified copy of proof of relationship to them needs to be provided by birth certificate or passport.
  • specialist report, such a psychiatrist's or surgeon’s report
  • death of a close family member/relative - where possible, a death certificate should be provided and evidence of relationship to the deceased (birth certificate/passport). Please do not send photo evidence, as this is not required.
  • treatment plan – for example: if required for mental health grounds a mental health assessment plan or if for serious injury, treatment plan for your rehab on the injury. This plan should outline treatments, action and support services that you and your doctor have agreed you are aiming to achieve so you are of fit health to return to study
  • personal statement that explains how the treatment plan will put you back on track to study.

For leave on non-medical grounds you need to provide one or more of the following documentary evidence/documents, depending on your situation:

  • documentation should be objective evidence from an independent source such as a death certificate (please do not send photo evidence, as this is not required), police report, current letter from counselling service etc.

Supporting documentation must include the following information to assist the assessment process, and to avoid delays:

  • date of unforeseen incident or event
  • date/period you were impacted by the incident or event
  • the severity of the incident or event and how it impacted you and your ability to study
  • academic – subjects are unavailable for that Semester, an Agreed Progression Plan (APP) needs to be provided. This can be requested at ASK La Trobe.

Please note:

  • if you’re a sponsored student, you will need to provide an approval letter from your sponsor
  • if you’re a US Financial Aid recipient, you will need to contact the LTI US Financial Aid officer to discuss your application before submitting.

Before we can process your application you need to provide us with original documents or certified copies. We can only accept documents in English. If one or more of your documents is in another language, you’ll need to submit them with a NAATI-accredited [external link] translation.

If you do not have evidence of compassionate or compelling circumstances you will be required to discontinue your studies and re-apply when you are ready to return to enrol/study.

When to apply for a leave of absence

Continuing students are advised to submit their leave of absence before the census date, to avoid being liable for fees and academic penalties. New students who have not yet commence and have not been issued a visa should apply for a deferral of Course Commencement rather than a leave of absence.

Leave of absence - studying offshore or non-student visa holder

If you are holding another type of visa other than a student visa, you still need to apply for a leave of absence with the LTI office. You need to lodge the application with ASK La Trobe and attach a copy of your current visa.

See also:

Discontinuation of enrolment

Withdrawing from your course

If you have decided to withdraw from your course, you need to read the information, complete and submit the Discontinuation of Enrolment Form for approval to La Trobe International along with your student ID card.

Course Transfers

Changing courses

International students may be eligible to change courses within La Trobe University. To apply for a change of course please read the information, complete and submit the Application for Course Transfer Form. Changing courses may have visa implications and you may need to discuss this with La Trobe International at the time of change.

Applying for a release letter

Changing universities

If you want to change universities within the first six months of your course (per the date on your CoE) and you want to continue studying in Australia, you will need to apply for a Letter of Release from La Trobe International If you can demonstrate to the satisfaction of La Trobe University that the transfer to another provider is in your best interests, a Release Letter will be granted. For further details on how to apply please read more on withdrawal.

Higher Degree Research Students (HDR)

Candidature information

Change of Study Rate, Extension of Candidature, External Candidature, Withdrawal of Candidature, Leave of Absence are some of the type of variations for Higher Degree Research Students (HDR).

To apply for any of the listed variations to your enrolment and to meet your student visa obligations you need to submit supporting documentation as evidence to support your reasons.

To be eligible for any change to your enrolment (mentioned above), reasons can include:

  • compassionate or compelling circumstances – guidelines outlined under the sub-heading Leave of Absence (above) academic intervention.

All applications MUST include current documentation in English to support your reasons. Failure to provide documentation may lead to your application not being assessed and could lead to your student visa being cancelled.

How taking time off may affect your visa

If you are granted any of the listed enrolment variations, the University must notify the Department of Home Affairs of the changes to your enrolment. This can affect your student visa.

Important

  • Initial enquiries for any changes to enrolment for research and higher degree students and your entitlements should be made directly to the Graduate Research School
  • All applications for changes to your enrolment for research and higher degree students need to be submitted to LTI Compliance who will assess your application and subsequently communicate with you and the Graduate Research School accordingly
  • No changes to your enrolment will be approved if any fees owing to the University

Please note: the University must notify the Department of Home Affairs of the changes to your enrolment and a new CoE will be put in place to reflect a new maximum Thesis submission date.