Top Tips for International Students: Transferring between educational providers

International students seeking to transfer between education providers can find this a complicated and legally cumbersome process.

International Students studying at a table

Without proper knowledge of their rights and entitlements, students risk breaching the conditions of their student visa or incurring significant financial penalties. Prior to transferring, students should seek advice from their course coordinator and from a legal professional.

If a student has completed six months of their ‘principal course of study’, they are eligible to apply for a transfer to a new education provider. ‘Principal course of study’ refers to the highest qualification for which their visa was granted and applies to students granted a visa based on a package offer by a university – including an offer for a place in an English course, plus an offer for a place in a degree program.

If a student needs to transfer between providers prior to completing six months of their principle course, they must obtain permission from their original education institution. They will require a ‘letter of release’ from the original education provider and a ‘letter of offer’ from the new education provider. The six month requirement refers to six months exactly from the Confirmation of Enrolment.

Educational providers hold discretion as to each individual student request to transfer prior to the six-month minimum. Educational providers may refuse a request to transfer, however they must provide written reasons for their decision. Students unhappy with their educational provider’s decision may access the provider’s internal appeals process.

Dev’s Story

Dev*, an international student from Bangladesh, came to Redfern Legal Centre seeking advice about transferring from his principle course of study.

Dev arrived in Australia on a package program (placement in a pathway English course and a degree program) to do his Bachelor degree. Upon arrival it was revealed to Dev that the university had failed to enrol the requisite number of students to run the course. This meant that Dev was unable to enrol in core subjects and could only enrol in elective subjects. Dev sought a letter of release from his education provider so he could enrol at another university. As he had not yet completed six months of his degree, Dev’s education provider was unwilling to provide him with a letter of release.

Dev was distressed that the course he wished to study was no longer available to him and he was being prohibited from studying elsewhere. Dev was very anxious about his situation and how it might impact upon his student visa status.

Redfern Legal Centre advocated on Dev’s behalf to the university and Dev was successful in obtaining his letter of release, enabling him to enrol at a new institution in a course of his choosing. RLC’s assistance resolved Dev’s concerns about not being compliant with his student visa requirements through no fault of his own.

*Not his real name.