Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS): your rights and obligations

La Trobe University's responsibilities

La Trobe University's responsibilities

Australia provides the world's most rigorous protection for international students through the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000. The ESOS Act requires those institutions providing education to international students to meet nationally consistent standards in their education delivery, facilities and services. The legislation aims to protect and enhance Australia's reputation for quality education, to provide tuition protection and support the integrity of the student visa program.

For more detailed information, please visit the Department of Education and Training. La Trobe along with all education and training providers of courses offered to international students studying in Australia on a student visa are required to:

  • Register on CRICOS
  • Meet quality assurance standards
  • Comply with tuition and financial assurance requirements
  • Meet the obligations of registered providers
  • Report students who do not comply with student visa conditions to the Department of Industry and Department of Home Affairs.

International students' responsibilities

International students' responsibilities

You have particular responsibilities as an international student that are related to the conditions of your student visa (should you hold one).

Below is a summary of information that should be read together with information on the Department of Home Affairs website 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 include:

  • maintaining enrolment and course progress
  • paying tuition fees on time so you maintain your enrolment
  • 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.

For tips and information to help you comply with your student visa, read this fact sheet (PDF 62KB).

Maintain enrolment and course progress

You must be enrolled in a full-time course registered for international students that matches the subclass of your students visa. At La Trobe, this means you should study 120 credit points (generally 8 subjects) per calendar year.

According to Australian government regulations, you are also expected to complete your course by the end date specified on your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). This means that you can only reduce your study load by showing "compassionate and compelling" circumstances or the Intervention Strategy has been implemented. 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.

If you think that you will not be able to complete your course by the date on your CoE, then you must see your Course Coordinator/Course Advisor immediately so that an appropriate intervention strategy can be implemented. To extend your CoE you will need to fill in the Application for Confirmation of Enrolment form (DOC 320KB) and follow the steps indicated

If you do not abide by these requirements, you may not be able to extend your student visa to complete your course.

Academic progress

All La Trobe students must maintain satisfactory academic progress according to University policy. As an international student, if you are excluded from your course because of unsatisfactory academic progress, the University must notify Department of Home Affairs, which can lead to your 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 Department of Home Affairs, please contact the LTI Compliance team in person at La Trobe International office or via email or phone at:


T: +61 3 9479 3936

The Academic Progress Toolkit for staff is a handy resource that explains the process of Academic Progress including policies and procedures.

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 Department of Home Affairs. This may lead to cancellation of your student visa. If you have trouble paying your fees, please contact the Fees and HECS Office at If you need to you can also make an appointment to see the International Student Services Team by emailing or by calling 03 9479 1199.

You can find more information about fees for international students here.

Notify the University of any change of address

It is a student visa condition that you 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 COE will be sent to the current address on file. Department of Home Affairs also contacts the University to find out your current address. If you do not update your address, your visa could be affected without you knowing.

Maintaining visa length Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

You need to ensure that your OSHC is valid throughout your studies in Australia. If you need to renew your coverage and your health provider is with OSHC Allianz, you can do this by making a payment directly to OSHC by Allianz Global Assistance.

OSHC Allianz representatives are available on campus at La Trobe International on Monday, Tuesday and Friday between 10am-5pm for advice, new policies and policy renewals/extensions.

Leave of absence

To apply for a 'Leave of absence', you must show 'compassionate or compelling' circumstances exist or that prerequisite subjects are not offered in the semester or term you're intermitting. You will need to complete the 'Leave of absence Application' form and provide documentary evidence to support this. Your leave will need to be approved by the La Trobe International Compliance team and then approved by the College.

If you do not have evidence of compassionate or compelling circumstances you may be required to discontinue your studies and re-apply when you are ready to return to enrol/study. However, if your Leave of absence is approved, and your student visa is still valid, you may be permitted to remain in Australia during this time. We strongly advise you contact Immigration to seek visa advice on 131 881.

Please note: if you take leave of absence, you are encouraged to depart Australia within 28 days of the effective date of a deferral and return no sooner than 28 days before your new scheduled course commencement date.

If you needed to travel offshore (such as to visit a sick family member etc), you need to depart Australia within the 28 days of the start date of your leave, or your visa may be cancelled. To seek further advice on your visa options, please contact Immigration on 131881.

If you are unable to travel (e.g. due to medical reasons), you may be able to remain onshore in Australia during the Leave of Absence period. It is important that you continue to hold a valid Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) during this time. If you have Leave of Absence, but you do not have a valid CoE, your visa may be cancelled.

If you are away for more than six months, your visa may be cancelled. Please contact Department of Home Affairs for information about your visa before submitting a leave of absence application. For more information please refer to our website.

Examples of appropriate supporting documentation

Medical grounds

Medical certificates must include the following information to assist the assessment process and to avoid any delay:

  • date of consultation
  • date/period of time the condition impacted you (must cover the dates of the LOA period)
  • 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.

Non-medical grounds

Applications on grounds other than medical grounds should include as much documentary evidence as possible. This documentation should be objective evidence from an independent source such as a death certificate, 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.

Online and distance education

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

  • Online and distance courses can only make up one-third of your total program
  • In each compulsory semester, you must be enrolled in at least one subject delivered face-to-face.

In a non-compulsory semester (i.e. summer/winter school), you may enrol full-time in online/distance education subjects, but they will still be counted towards your one-third limit of your course.

Course transfer

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

Discontinuation of enrolment

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

Applying for a Release Letter

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.

Early completions

If you have fast-tracked your course and completed a month or more earlier than scheduled, your student visa will be valid for 28 days after your final results are released.

Make sure you know the date your student visa expires. You must apply for a new visa before your current visa expires. If you are unsure please don't hesitate to contact the La Trobe International Compliance team via email at or in person at the La Trobe International office.

Please note: if you have condition 8534 or 8535 'No Further Stay' on your student visa, you will not be able to remain in Australia after that visa expires, except in very limited circumstances. Contact Department of Home Affairs for more information on 131 881.


The following FAQs have been composed to assist you to understand how you can work with La Trobe staff so that your enrolment is structured to enable you to complete your course within the duration of your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) and student visa.

What is the Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE)?
The CoE is the document you are required to submit to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (Department of Home Affairs) to apply for a student visa. Information about your course based on the details in the Letter of Offer issued by La Trobe International, which includes the duration, are included in the CoE.

What is the link between the CoE and the student visa?
The student visa duration has been issued by Department of Home Affairs based on expected course end date in the CoE. Except in extremely limited circumstances, it is not possible to remain in Australia beyond a student visa expiry date.

As a student visa holder, you are required to complete your course within the time granted on your student visa.

What happens if my visa expires and I don't have a valid CoE?
You need to contact La Trobe International urgently to apply for an updated CoE. This may take up to seven working days due to peak periods.

Can I defer my course prior to enrolment?
Yes, but you need to contact La Trobe International to obtain a new Letter of Offer and a new CoE.

How can I do this (complete my study course within the time granted on my student visa)?
Complete within duration. Normally, international students will need to enrol in four subjects (60 credit points) each semester as the CoE and student visa length have a calculated duration on the basis of four credit points for each semester.

Can the duration of my course vary?
Yes, the duration of the course takes into account any approved Advanced Standing that will reduce the number of subjects required to successfully complete the course.

What if I do not enrol in 60 credit points per semester?
You may not be able to complete your course in student visa time and will therefore require a student visa extension. The only way La Trobe can recommend a visa extension to Department of Home Affairs is if you have consulted with your College Student Support Coordinator and developed an Agreed Course Plan so you can complete the course within the revised course completion date.

Can I enrol for an online or off-campus subject as part of my course?
You can enrol in online or off-campus subjects as part of your course as long as you are also enrolled in at least one on-campus subject exclusively during the compulsory study periods (i.e. Semester 1 and 2). Under the National Code, you may enrol in online or off-campus subjects up to a maximum of one-third of your total course load. If you are unsure, consult your College Student Support Coordinator or the La Trobe International Compliance team at the Melbourne campus.

If I apply for a course transfer, what will be my course duration?
If you applied for a course transfer and have been granted Advanced Standing, the total course duration will be based on the number of credit points required to complete the reduced duration of the course, as determined by your College.

What happens if I fail a subject?
This means you will need to complete and Agreed Course Plan and an intervention strategy to plan to get back on schedule to complete the course within the expected duration. You are advised to arrange a time to consult with your College Student Support Coordinator so the intervention strategy can be established.

What is an Intervention Strategy?
Intervention strategies will vary from student to student. Strategies may be one or a combination of the following:

  • receiving a letter from the College highlighting support services to improve academic performance
  • attending language and academic skills programs
  • attending counselling
  • receiving assistance with personal issues which are influencing progress
  • being placed in a suitable alternative subject within a course or a suitable alternative course, or
  • a combination of the above and a reduction in course load
  • an approved intermission.

What if I fail more subjects?
The Academic Progress Committee (APC) will make contact with you.

Can I take a leave of absence from my studies?
Yes, you can apply for a leave of absence at anytime during your course. A leave of absence means taking a break from studies. You can apply for leave of absence for up to twelve months maximum. Please also be aware that you have to be outside Australia for the period of your intermission.

A leave of absence is a consultative process with your College Student Support Coordinator, and La Trobe International. It must be by formal written agreement and for a defined period of time.

In the first instance all enquiries concerning a leave of absence should be directed to La Trobe International to discuss whether they are entitled to leave of absence under the National Code and to consider the possible impact on your student visa.

Under Standard 13 of the National Code, the University must allow students to a leave of absence only one the grounds of:

  • compassionate or compelling circumstances, or
  • misconduct by the student.

You will need to provide documentary evidence and letters of support for any application for a leave of absence. A leave of absence can only be approved based on compassionate or compelling circumstances beyond your control.

These circumstances include, but are not limited to:

  • serious illness or injury, where a medical certificate states that the student was unable to attend class
  • bereavement of close family members such as parent or grandparent (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 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 student (these cases should be supported by police or psychologist's reports)
  • where the registered provider was unable to offer a pre-requisite subject
  • where a student in final semester seeks an extension to complete a final subject for an additional major sequence, or
  • inability to begin study on the course commencement date due to delay in receiving a student visa.

Each application will be considered on its merits and assessed on a case-by-case basis according to the University's Leave of Absence policy and procedures and the requirements of individual courses. La Trobe International will report any period of leave of absence to Department of Home Affairs.

To apply for leave of absence please go to the La Trobe Enrolment website.

What do I need to bring to an appointment with a staff member for advice (e.g. College Student Support Coordinator, International Student Services Coordinator, Student Counsellor, etc)?
It is useful to bring the following:

  • your passport with evidence of visa
  • any supporting documentation as evidence of circumstances that may have affected your results.

What are the education providers guidelines for transfers?
Under the National Code 2007, providers are restricted from enrolling transferring students prior to the student completing 6 months of their principal course. The principal course is one for which a student visa has been issued as the highest level of study in the program.

For La Trobe University, this impacts in two ways:

  • A student may apply to be released from the La Trobe program before or up to the first completed six months of the principal course; this includes students on a pathway program of which the higher education component is the principal course.
  • A student may apply to commence a program at La Trobe, after arriving in Australia on the visa generated by another education provider, prior to completing six months of the principal course with the provider.

How can I get a release from La Trobe to transfer to another provider?
Normally all students who are issued a student visa as a result of a La Trobe generated Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) will be expected to complete minimum the first six months of the La Trobe principal course.

The following criteria are the only circumstances in which La Trobe will grant a release before the completion of the first six months of the La Trobe program:

  • La Trobe University CRICOS registration has been suspended
  • The course offered in the Letter of Offer becomes unavailable for new intakes
  • Failure to qualify for admission at the end of the pathway program
  • A government sponsor deems that the transfer is in the best interest of their student
  • Evidence of the course being inappropriate because it does not meet the needs of the student
  • There are grounds for compassionate and compelling circumstances
  • An applicant under 18 years old presents a valid offer from a receiving institution (which also acknowledges the responsibility to provide accommodation, support and general welfare) and provides written evidence of parents/guardian's support for the transfer.

Compassionate or compelling circumstances to be considered for approval and release from La Trobe University will normally be a sudden change of circumstance, beyond the student's control, that impact on plans for on-campus study in Australia. Such circumstances, supported by evidentiary documents, include illness or death of an immediate family member or sponsor.

The applicant requesting a release letter will be advised of the decision in writing within the agreed time frame, outlined upon receipt of application. Applications are sent to: Admissions Team, La Trobe International, Bundoora, Vic 3083.

Please note: if a student is eligible to commence and continue the nominated La Trobe course, changes to another level of study in an unrelated field to the original visa will not be approved in the period prior to or within the first six months of the principal course of study. Similarly, requests for transfers from commencing students who are in an adjustment period should not expect approval prior to enrolling for six months in the principal award course, except where there is evidence of compassionate or compelling circumstances.

The applicant will be free to pursue the change of study plans after completing an enrolment of six months in the originally intended award course at La Trobe University.

How can I get approval to transfer to La Trobe?
If an application is received from an onshore student indicating that they are currently studying at another Australian institution, the applicant must confirm the completion of the first six months of the principal course of study (i.e. the highest level of study for which the student visa was issued), and attach a copy of the visa.

If the six month period has passed, the application process proceeds as for all overseas students.

As a receiving educational institution, La Trobe University must not knowingly enrol a student wishing to transfer prior to the end of the first six months of the principal course of study ( i.e. the highest level of study for which the student visa was issued)

Please note: if the applicant is in receipt of a Government scholarship, a letter from the sponsoring Government agency is also required to support the transfer.

What if I get Australian permanent residency?
Students whose residency status changes during the application process must notify La Trobe International immediately.

If you apply as an international student but become an Australian permanent resident before your initial enrolment, your full-fee paying place will be withdrawn and you will have to re-apply for your course again as a local student.

If you start your course as an international student but become an Australian permanent resident midway through your studies, you will be considered as an international student until the end of that semester. You will then need to contact your college to update your enrolment status for subsequent semesters.

Can I work while I am studying?
As a student on a student visa, you are permitted to work in Australia to supplement your income. During the semester, you will be permitted to work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight. There is no limit on the number of hours you are permitted to work when the University is not in session, provided it does not interfere with studies and you are not enrolled in Summer or Winter Semester.

For detailed information on work rights, contact the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (Department of Home Affairs).

Where can I get more information?
You can speak to staff at the campus office of La Trobe International for advice on your studies and Department of Home Affairs about visa related matters.

To re-apply for a student visa, please read the information on our Applying for a student visa page