HDR guidelines to change to external status


Relevant Updates:

July 2021:

Please note that the HDR Change to External Status form has now been updated to reflect recent changes. A WHS risk assesssment can now include COVID hazards rather than requiring a separate COVID risk assessment and a WHS Risk assessment and Contingency plan is now only required when candidates are intending to conduct field or lab based reasearch activies during the period. 



HDR candidates are required to undertake their program at a campus of the University for a minimum period (see below) unless approved to change to External status for a period:

  • PhD candidates: 72 units of enrolment (which is equivalent  to attendance for 18 months full-time or 36 months part-time).
  • MPhil candidates: 48 units of enrolment (which is equivalent to attendance for 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time).  

Internal Status is the default status for HDR candidates who are expected to attend the ANU campus listed on their Offer of Admission letter. 

If your circumstances change then you are able to apply for External Status which is attendance off-campus. External status can be:

  • living at a domestic (onshore, within Australia) location other than Canberra and the surrounding regions;
  • offshore (outside Australia). 

Considerations before applying

There are many considerations when applying for External Status that you should consider: 

  • What period of time do I need to apply for? Note you will need to specify a start and end date for the status.
  • Will I have access to required resources to undertake my research project?
  • How will my supervisory contact arrangements change? You should agree on how you will remain in contact including how often you will meet. 
  • How will I complete any required coursework?
  • Will I be able to meet the minimum weeks of attendance requirements (4 weeks for full-time candidates and 2 weeks for part-time candidates)or will I need to apply for a variation?
  • When is the best time to attend campus for the minimum attendance requirements? Perhaps your School has set dates for particular annual seminars, workshops or other events that you should plan to attend. 
  • What risks are there at your proposed location of research? Do you need a plan to mitigate any risks?    
  • International students on a student visa: how will this impact my eCoE and student visa?
  • Scholarship holders: Will my scholarship be impacted? Note you should check the Conditions of Award or relevant procedure for further details.  

Services & Amenities Fee

Candidates who have not yet exceeded their Maximum Submission Date and are studying externally are still required to pay the Services & Amenities Fee.  Students on program extension studying externally or offshore are not required to pay the Services & Amenities Fee. 

International Candidates on Program Extension

If you are an international student and are intending to apply for a program extension please note that when you complete the program extension form through ISIS you will be able to request external/offshore status and therefore you do not have to complete the form listed on this page. Note International HDR candidates who are moving offshore for their program extension do not have to pay the $3,000/$4,000 extension of program reduced tuition fee (if applicable).

Minimum attendance requirements

 External full-time candidates undertaking a PhD must spend four weeks on campus each year, part-time candidates must spend 2 weeks a year. These weeks can be consecutive or cumulative. The attendance requirement can be waived by the Delegated Authority upon application from the student which can be facilitated when you apply for external status through the form. External candidates must notify the Graduate Research Office of periods of attendance on completion of the period. These periods are then recorded with the Student Administration System. 


If your reason for applying for External status is due to COVID 19 travel restrictions then you should complete the COVID 19 Offshore Status form.


Step 1
Discuss support for changing to external status with your supervisor

When your circumstances have changed and you are considering to apply to change to External Status you should first discuss your options with your supervisor (Chair of Panel/Primary Supervisor) to ascertain if external candidature can be supported for your research project. If support is available then you can commence discussions with your supervisor on further details of the external status such as:

  • the duration,  
  • when you will be able to attend campus for the minimum periods of attendance,  or if you will require a variation to the minimum periods,
  • how you will access required research facilities and resources,
  • what risks will be present at your new location of research and what plans can you put in place to mitigate any risks,  
  • how will supervisory contact arrangements work from a distance, and
  • how you will meet any coursework requirements (if applicable).  

Step 2
Complete the Change to External Status Form

Once you have discussed and agreed on the alternative arrangements with your supervisor, download and complete the form using Adobe Reader/Acrobat, then email it to your supervisor (Chair of Panel) to endorse the form.  

Step 3
Approval of the form

Once your supervisor (Chair of Panel) has endorsed the form you should then email it to your relevant HDR administrator for approval by the Delegated Authority. Once approved your HDR administrator should then forward the approved form to the Graduate Research Office for processing. 

Step 4
Processing of the form

Once your approved form has been processed by the Graduate Research Office you will receive email confirmation.