Changing courses while studying

Hello, everyone. We are your trustable education · migration partner, Opartners.

As you know, many international students who are already granted a student visa and commenced their planned study in Australia want to change their course for different reasons.

Some of them may not like the course or institution while others decide to change their future career suddenly. Regardless of any reason, international students who wish to change courses must meet all the conditions that apply to their student visa.

Here are two important facts to remember when it comes to switching your course or institution.

  1. Complete six months of your principal course or gain permission from current school 

According to the Department of Home Affairs, you must complete the first 6 months of your principal course before you make any change. Normally, course providers mention about this requirement on their terms and conditions of enrolments, so please check your signed letter of offer.

To be more specific, ‘principal course’ means the highest qualification course in which your visa was granted. For example, if you package General English course and then Certificate IV in Business, your principal course is Certificate IV because it is ranked higher in AQF hierarchy than the other.

However, if a student can prove that there is compelling or compassionate reason before the 6 months have been completed, permission will be granted by the current school. When your education provider does not allow you to transfer to another education provider, you can try methods as below:

  1. Use your education provider’s internal appeal process first
  2. If that does not work well, appeal to external agents such as State/Territory Ombudsman or Overseas Student Ombudsman


  1. Apply for a new student visa if applicable


If you are holding a student visa and want to change your main course of study to a lower Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) level or a non-AQF level, you may need to apply for a new student visa. This requirement applies even when the course you change to is from the same education provider.

Here is an example. If you are currently enrolled in Bachelor of Information Technology and wish to switch to Diploma of Information Technology, you are required to apply for a new student visa. But exceptionally, in case you are changing from an AQF level 10 course (Doctoral degree) to an AQF 9 course (Master’s degree), you do not have to.

Kindly note that the department tend to assess the case more strictly of which the purpose of applying for a new student visa is due to course change. You must demonstrate the reason in detail why you want to change the course, since if the department finds these reasons ingenuine, your visa application is highly likely to be refused.

If you consider changing your course, you have to be careful because it can affect your student visa. If you are hesitating or worried about switching your current course, feel free to contact Opartners anytime for professional consultation or assistance.


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The information provided in this website serves as a general guidance only and does not constitute migration advice. We accept no responsibility for any consequences that arise from any action taken on the basis of the information available in this site. We recommend that people seeking advice on migration law should seek advice from a registered migration agent.