Reduced study load

An approved Reduced Study Load allows you to take a study load of less than 50 points in a half-year period.

Student visa holders are normally required to enrol in at least 50 points in each half-year period.

In 2020, due to the disruptive and unforeseen impacts of COVID-19, this requirement was waived. If you reduced your study load in 2020 and will now be unable to complete your course by your original Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) end date, we will provide you with an extended CoE so you can renew your student visa.

In 2021 the normal conditions will apply, meaning student visa holders will again need to enrol in at least 50 points in each half-year period, or be approved for a reduced study load for a valid reason as outlined below.

What is Reduced Study Load?

Student visa holders are subject to visa condition 8202, which requires you to complete your course by the end date in your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). This usually requires you to maintain a standard study load of 50 points in each half-year period.

To ensure you are meeting this visa requirement, we assess your study load and your progress in your course each half-year. If you have not received approval to reduce your study load and are not on track to complete by your CoE end date, an unapproved Reduced Study Load (RSL) sanction is applied to your record. This sanction does not impact your access to University accounts (such as my.unimelb).

If you reduce your study load without approval, and therefore extend the duration of your course, we will not be permitted to issue you a new CoE. You may not be able to complete your course in Australia as your visa will expire before you complete your studies.

Exceptions to this requirement are:

  • An approved Reduced Study Load (see below)
  • An approved Leave of Absence
  • Suspension or points limitations imposed by a Course Academic Progress Committee
  • If you are still on track to complete your course by your CoE end date
  • If you are in your final semester and need fewer than 50 credit points to complete your course.

Valid reasons to apply for a Reduced Study Load

Compassionate or compelling circumstances

Compassionate or compelling circumstances are generally those beyond your control and which have an impact upon your course progress or wellbeing.

These could include, but are not limited to:

  • Serious illness or injury where you were unable to attend classes
  • Bereavement of close family members such as parents or grandparents
  • Major political upheaval or natural disaster in your home country requiring emergency travel which have impacted on your 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
  • Childcare or maternity responsibilities
  • Military service in your home country
  • Being unable to enrol in subjects because of the structure of your course.

For more information, see the support for compassionate or compelling circumstances page. Or if you have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, please refer to the COVID-19 advice for international students and students outside Australia page.

In most cases, if you're approved for Reduced Study Load because of compassionate or compelling circumstances you must maintain a study load of 25 credit points. If you wish to enrol in less than 25 credit points, consider applying for a Leave of Absence instead.

Course structure requirements

Course structure reasons for requiring a Reduced Study Load may include:

  • You have failed a prerequisite subject and cannot select 50 credit points to enrol in during that half year period.
  • You have changed your major, specialisation or pathway and not all subjects are available in the current semester. (If you have changed your major, this must be actioned in your study plan prior to applying for Reduced Study Load).
  • There is limited core subject availability in your major or specialisation area.
  • You have repeatedly failed a subject(s).

Unavailability of major elective subjects is not grounds to request a reduced study load. You are expected to enrol in available subjects.

Unsatisfactory Progress

If you have been identified by a Course Academic Progress Committee (CAPC) as making unsatisfactory progress, you will be expected to abide by any outcomes of the CAPC meeting.

Students who have been restricted to 25 or 37.5 points per semester as an outcome of a CAPC meeting do not need to request a Reduced Study Load, as this will be automatically processed. We will provide you with an extended Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) if you will be unable to complete your course by your original CoE end date and need to renew your student visa as a result of these restrictions.

Invalid reasons to apply for a Reduced Study Load

The following reasons are not eligible for Reduced Study Load:

  • Dislike of the available elective subjects, including major electives
  • Planning to make up the points in the future
  • Intentionally under-loading, as you feel you can still complete on time
  • Studying fewer topics to improve your Weighted Average Mark
  • Timetable clashes
  • Failing a non-requisite subject
  • Employment reasons
  • Studying a concurrent diploma
  • Studying a single subject through the Community Access Program.

How to apply

To apply for a Reduced Study Load, submit a request to reduce study load application with:

You must remain enrolled in a full-time study load (where you can) until you receive a response to your application.

All applications must include up-to-date supporting documentation, which must be in English. Without this, your application will be delayed or refused.

If you need to reduce your study load due to subject availability, course structure, or unsatisfactory progress, we also recommend making a course planning appointment at Stop 1 to discuss your options and revised study plans.

Apply for a Reduced Study Load

Student visa implications

As a student visa holder, you are required to have a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) that covers the duration of your course. We can only extend your course duration and issue a new CoE for 'compassionate or compelling circumstances' (see above).

If your course duration has been extended for approved reasons and you will be unable to complete your course by your CoE end date, we will provide you with an extended CoE in case you need to renew your student visa.

If you extend the duration of your course for other or unapproved reasons, we will not be permitted to issue you with a new CoE, and you may not be able to complete your course in Australia if your visa expires before you complete.