CDU students

Make your studies compliant

Your student visa is the document issued to you by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) that allows you to enter Australia to study. This document is facilitated by your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE), which is managed by Charles Darwin University (CDU).

It is important that you are familiar with your rights and responsibilities as a student visa holder. Make yourself aware of your responsibilities, and ensure you meet these during your time at CDU.

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Study load

At the commencement of your studies with CDU, you are issued with a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). The CoE outlines the normal full-time duration of your program and indicates the date you are expected to complete.  To ensure you complete your degree in the specified period, you must maintain a load of 40 credit points per semester.

If you are unable to maintain a full-time load of 40 credit points, then you must apply for a reduced study load. Refer to Changes to your enrolment – Reducing your enrolment below.

Please note that applications for reduced study load are not approved in all circumstances, and you should contact the Senior International Student Adviser (SISA) for further advice if you are unsure of your eligibility.

For these reasons, it is very important to remain enrolled on a full-time basis or as per your approved study plan.

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International student fee payment

International student fees are stated in your letter of offer and CoE before commencing at CDU. Fees must be paid in full by the first day of classes each semester. If you are unable to pay by this date, you must apply for a tuition fees extension online. If you have any questions regarding payment of your fees, please contact the International Compliance Officer via email at

As a student visa holder, it is required that students remain financially able to pay their fees. The financial struggle cannot be considered when assessing other applications such as CoE extension and Reduced study load.

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External study restrictions

Student visa holders are restricted from studying more than 25% of their course on an external basis. This includes:

  • External study was undertaken through CDU
  • Cross-institutional enrolment
  • Enrolment in external units during summer semester

Upon your enrolment, you can calculate how many units you are permitted to enrol in externally by dividing your total number of units by 4. It is important to remember that if you receive credit for any study, these units do not count towards your study at CDU and are thus not included in your calculations.

For example, A Bachelor of Accounting student must study 240cp to complete their degree. This means they must finish 24 units. 25% of 24 units is six units. Thus six can be studied externally.

However, if the student had received 40cp advanced standing, they would only have to complete 200cp with CDU. Therefore, 25% of these 20 units is five units. Thus five can be studied externally.

Monitoring your external enrolment is your responsibility during your enrolment at CDU, and exceeding this enrolment may impact on your student visa. Ensure that you adhere to your study plan at all times, and plan for your external enrolment.

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Cross-institutional enrolment

In the case of elective units not being available at CDU, students may choose to enrol cross-institutionally in units, to gain credit towards their study. This process is facilitated through the Academic Liaison Unit and allows students to study a greater selection of units as a part of their final degree.

On occasion, this process can allow students to enrol internally into units at other institutions during non-compulsory study periods, and study at another location in Australia while remaining on a CDU CoE.

To apply for cross-institutional enrolment, students should apply for Outgoing Cross-institutional (CDU Students) via the appropriate CDU eForm.

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Change of provider

Within the first six months of study for the principal course, an international student may only transfer to another education provider with the permission of Charles Darwin University and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

You can only transfer to another education provider within the first six calendar months of your principal course if Charles Darwin University provides you with a Letter of Release. This letter is required before you can enrol in another program at a different institution.

To obtain a Letter of Release, submit the following documentation:

  • A completed Letter of Release request form
  • An Offer letter from another registered provider
  • Other supporting documents (if applicable) such as a medical certificate, a letter of support, etc.

You are advised to familiarise yourselves with the International Students – Transfer Between Registered Providers Procedures to understand how your Letter of Release request will be assessed.

If you have completed more than six months of study for the principal course, you will not need to provide a Letter of Release to your next educational institution, but you still need to request a Course Cancellation at Charles Darwin University.

To request a Course Cancellation, submit the following documentation:

  • A Course Cancellation eForm
  • An Offer letter from another registered provider
  • Other supporting documents (if applicable) such as a medical certificate, a letter of support, etc.

You are also required to notify the University within seven days of receiving the new electronic Confirmation of Enrolment certificate or evidence of enrolment.

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CDU Terms of Agreement

Key responsibilities of international students are mentioned in the CDU Terms of Agreement, which was sent to you in an email at the commencement of your studies. You are expected to revisit and familiarise yourself with these responsibilities to ensure compliance with the conditions of your visa and your obligations under Australian immigration law.

These responsibilities pertain to but are not limited to, attending a compulsory Orientation program, enrolling or changing enrolment promptly, paying tuition fees fully and promptly, updating details following a change in address or contact information, and maintaining full-time enrolment on campus.

You also are expected to maintain satisfactory academic progress and successful course completion within the period specified in your letter of offer and CoE, i.e., the period of your student visa. Additionally, you must inform the University if you are unable to continue studying, and should familiarise yourself with the circumstances which could lead to cancellation or suspension of your enrolment. Cancellation of enrolment may result in a breach of your visa, meaning you may be required to leave the country.

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Changes to your enrolment

To prevent changes to your enrolment that may negatively affect your timely course completion, we recommend that you contact relevant support staff before changing your enrolment.

Subject selection

For each course of study, CDU has already prepared Recommended Study Plans. To find your recommended study plan, simply visit the CDU Course Catalogue and click on the Study Plan tab.

Should you wish or be advised to digress from the Recommended Study Plan, we recommend that you contact the International Administration Officer at the Academic Liaison Unit and obtain advice on subject selection.

Please visit the Academic Liaison Unit for more information regarding the services offered.

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Trouble enrolling

If you are having difficulties enrolling into subjects, please email or visit Student Central if you are in Darwin, or the campus reception desk if you are in Sydney or Melbourne.

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Completing your course on time

International students must strive, at all times, to complete their studies by the completion date specified on their Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) document. This means that under normal circumstances you must complete at least 80 credit points per academic year, or as listed in the Recommended Study Plan.

The academic year at CDU consists of 2 compulsory study periods, Semester 1 and Semester 2, and 1 non-compulsory study period, Summer Semester.

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Reducing your enrolment

As an international student, it is expected that you will complete your program of study within the period outlined on your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). This means that all international students are required to undertake a load of 80 credit points per academic year. This is done over two compulsory study periods, Semester 1 and Semester 2.

While the Variation of Study Load enables you to complete your studies within the required timeframe through the addition of Summer Semester, a Reduced Study Load may negatively impact your ability to complete the course of study in given timeframe. Applications are assessed as per the National Code requirements and can be approved only in certain circumstances. These include:

  • The University’s intervention strategy for students who are having difficulties in making satisfactory course progress. In this instance, CDU would provide the student with a Learning Management Plan.

  • Compassionate and/or compelling circumstances, i.e. circumstances beyond the control of the student (for example illness, disability, bereavement, a traumatic experience) for which students must provide appropriate evidence.

  • Unexpected changes to the course structure and unit availability.

Each application for a reduced study load is assessed on a case by case basis by the international support team. If you wish to apply for a reduced study load, you can do so by completing the Application for Reduced Study Load form.

APPLY ONLINE: Reduced Study Load

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Variation of study load

There is flexibility for providers to vary a student’s enrolment load throughout the course. Students may take a normal, reduced or increased study load in each study period, as long as providers monitor the workload to ensure the student completes the course within the period specified in the CoE.

While the Reduced Study Load option affects the duration of your study, Variation of Study Load does not. As a result, this may be a good option, if available, for students who do not qualify for a Reduced Study Load and who would prefer spreading the recommended study load of 80 credit points in Semester 1 and Semester 2 across Summer Semester as well.

The above definition, therefore, allows you to vary your study load while fulfilling the two key requirements to:

  1. Maintain the ‘full-time’ enrolment per academic year. Please note that the academic year at CDU consists of 2 compulsory study periods - Semester 1 and 2 and a non-compulsory study period – Summer Semester.
  2. Manage your studies within the given timeframe, i.e. the end date of your CoE. Please note that a breach of this rule may result in refusal to grant a CoE extension if needed.

We don’t recommend the variation of study load, as it can result in many difficulties which could impact on completing your studies within the duration of your CoE. Here are some important things to think about if considering this option:

  • Availability of units – ensure the units are available at the time you plan to study them.  The unit offering, both on campus and external, can be limited. Check unit availability, especially for the summer semester.
  • Allocation – remember you can study only 25 percent of your total course credits externally.
  • Prerequisites – check the prerequisites for units when changing the recommended study plan, as this may influence your progression and timely completion of the study.
  • Enrolment in the non-compulsory study period: Summer Semester – working rights are restricted to the usual 40 hours per fortnight for this period if you decide to enroll in any units.

We advise you to enrol full-time and not to proceed with the modification of your recommended study plan unless advised otherwise.

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Online and distance learning

Students can study up to 25 percent of their total courses through online or distance learning. However, there are rules about how much you can study online/distance at specific times of the year.

No student can study entirely online or by distance in any compulsory study period (i.e. Semesters 1 and 2). This means that in every compulsory study period, you must be enrolled in at least one face to face unit.

This rule does not apply in non-compulsory study periods (i.e. Summer Semester) in which students may study entirely online/distance subjects if they want to.

If a student is in the last study period of a course, with only one subject to complete the course, the student must not study this unit online or by distance education in Australia unless the period in which the student will complete the course is a non-compulsory study period.

If a student has only one unit to complete in a compulsory study period, and the unit is available by distance or online, the student may ask the provider to cancel the CoE (thus no longer requiring a student visa) and return to their home country to complete the final unit of the course by distance or online.

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International students who wish to take a break from the study are required to apply for either an intermission or a short-term leave of absence.

A student may request a temporary deferment or suspension to their enrolment on the grounds of compassionate or compelling circumstances (for example, illness where a medical certificate states that the student is unable to attend classes, the serious illness or death of a family member, or some other compassionate or compelling circumstance that is beyond the control of the student and for which they can provide evidence).

Intermission is only available to students who have completed at least one unit. If you do not re-enrol or apply for an intermission by the relevant Census date, the University then considers you lapsed from your course. You will then need to reapply to continue your studies.

International students who defer their studies under the above-listed circumstances are obliged to leave Australia unless circumstances apply such as extreme illness, hospitalisation, or airline regulations regarding travel during pregnancy.

The standard period of intermission is one semester, and this can be approved up to two consecutive semesters. The maximum length of intermission is 12 months.

To apply, please log into the CDU eForm Centre and apply for Intermission. You’ll need to attach appropriate evidence to support your application. These can be a:

  • Medical document
  • Counsellor’s letter
  • Any other supporting document provided by a recognised authority

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Extending your studies (CoE Extension)

A Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) is a legal document produced by a Registered Education Provider (University) which indicates the full-time duration of a program.

International students on student visas are expected to complete their program by the course end date specified in their Confirmation of Enrolment.

In order to complete the program of study by the designated course end date, a higher education student needs to enrol and successfully complete 80 credit points per academic year. VET students must complete the required number of hours and successfully complete all units of study.

The expected duration of study specified in the student’s CoE must not be exceeded, except in these circumstances:

  1. Compassionate or compelling circumstances (for example, illness where a medical certificate states that the student was unable to attend classes or where the registered provider was unable to offer a pre-requisite unit)
  2. Where the registered provider has implemented an intervention strategy for students who were at risk of not meeting satisfactory course progress, or
  3. Where an approved deferment or suspension of study has been granted

In order to apply for a CoE extension, students can complete an online CoE extension application form together with appropriate evidence supporting their inability to complete their course of study within the given timeframe.

If you have any questions about this process, please email the International Support Team at


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Changing course

Changing your program is an important decision which requires careful consideration and thorough research. Before deciding to change program, you are encouraged to arrange a meeting with the Course Coordinator of the program that you wish to transfer to. This meeting is important it provides an opportunity to discuss the new program’s requirements and outcomes. 

Important Information:

  • To be eligible for a course change, you must meet all the admission entry requirements (i.e. academic, English and GTE criteria) of the course that you are applying for
  • Your application will be assessed only after grade release date
  • Unless approved for a course change, you are required to continue your original course of study following your original recommended study plan

For Higher Education students

If you apply for a course change BEFORE grade release date:

  • Submit an online application for the new course via StudyLink
  • Upload the following documents as attachments in the online application:
  1. Statement of Purpose for Course Change (PDF 127KB)
  2. HE103 Course Transfer Form (PDF 41KB) if you have completed at least 40 credit points; OR
  3. HE113 Application for Exemption Form (PDF 79KB) if you have completed less than 40 credit points

If you apply for a course change AFTER grade release date:

  1. Course Transfer if you have completed at least 40 credit points; OR
  2. Credit Transfer if you have completed less than 40 credit points

For VET students

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Charles Darwin University responsibilities

Charles Darwin University responsibilities

All Australian universities accepting international students must follow a strict set of laws to ensure the international student is provided with fair and equitable service in accordance with the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000. This legislation aims to enhance Australia’s reputation for world-class education, ensure tuition protection, and support the integrity of the student visa program.

Charles Darwin University, along with all education and training providers offering courses to international students studying in Australia on a student visa, is 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 Immigration and Border Protection

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