Legislative requirements for international students

All staff need to be aware of the university's responsibilities under the Educational Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000 and the accompanying National Code

It is important that staff are aware of the following legislative obligations that relating to international students.

Course duration

International students are required complete their course within the minimum duration as specified on their Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) issued by Global Engagement. CoEs are issued for the minimum course duration taking into account any significant credit granted for prior studies.

Extensions of duration may be granted in the following circumstances:

  1. Compassionate and compelling circumstances (which must be documented)
  2. Where a documented intervention strategy has been implemented
  3. Approval has been granted for a deferment or suspension of studies.

Study load

To meet the minimum course duration requirement students normally need to enrol in a full-time study load, with at least one face-to-face unit, in each compulsory study period.

A reduced study load may be approved by course coordinators; however, since international students are required to complete their studies within the minimum duration, a study plan must be in place considering future units of study offered by ACU in Summer, Winter, Professional Terms or cross institutionally.

Online study restriction

International students studying in Australia on a student visa may undertake up to one-third of their total course load by online/distance education.

As advised by TEQSA, following the Post-Covid Return to Compliance with the National Code from 1 July 2023, the requirement of no more than one third of total units online will be counted for any studies undertaken after 30 June 2023 until the completion of the course. Studies undertaken prior to 1 July 2023 will not be counted towards the online limit.


Universities are exempt from the requirement to keep attendance records for international students. This exemption does not extend to international students enrolled in ELICOS and Foundation programs.

Interruption to Study

International students seeking an Interruption to Study (Leave of Absence) should be advised to discuss their decision with their local International Student Adviser prior to withdrawing from units.  In most cases a student will be required to depart Australia for the duration of the leave and may need to reapply for a student visa to re-enter Australia after the period of leave has expired.

The above legislative requirements do not apply to international students studying fully online and to those on alternative visas.

Work restrictions for student visa holders

Students are permitted to work a maximum of 48 hours per fortnight during study periods. This ensures that student visa holders can focus on obtaining a quality Australian education and qualification, while remaining able to support themselves financially, gain valuable work experience, and contribute to Australia’s workforce needs. 

Staff members with any concerns or questions are welcome to contact Global Engagement via email international.compliance@acu.edu.au.

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