Reducing your study load as an international student (Coursework)

International Students who are not studying on a Student Visa will be required to apply to drop courses (reduce their study load), however, they will not be required to demonstrate compassionate/compelling grounds exist for their courses to be dropped, as any visa they may have does not have the primary purpose of study in Australia.

As an international student on a student visa, you are expected to complete your program within the time given on your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). In most instances, this requires you to enrol in a full-time study load (24 units per semester), each semester until the completion of your program requirements. If you are in your final Study Period and have less than 24 units to complete, you are considered to be enrolled full time if you are enrolled in 100% of your remaining unit load and you do not need to apply for reduced study load.

In accordance with Australian legislation, ANU can only extend a student's program duration and issue an extension CoE if there are compassionate or compelling circumstances that necessitate the extension.

You can only reduce your study load and extend your program duration in limited, exceptional circumstances. You will need to seek permission from your ANU Academic College to reduce your study load. Please note that in most cases, you will be required to substantiate your request for a reduced study load with supporting documentation (e.g. medical/ counselling certificates).

A reduced study load can be approved in the following circumstances:

  • Your program duration will not change (eg. you have studied more than a full time study load in a previous Study Period); or
  • You are eligible to study fewer courses for a Study Period and extend the duration of your program due to:
    • Change to program structure or course availability;
    • Illness, bereavement or traumatic experience
    • Academic progress assistance

Accepting credit against your program is not grounds for reducing your study load.

Failing to enrol in a full time load is not grounds for approved reduced study load. If you underenroll without approval or supporting documentation throughout your degree and then require an extension to your program, you may find ANU denies your request for an extension and refuses to issue you with a new CoE. This will mean that you will not be able to extend your student visa, and you may not be able to complete your program at the University.

There are potentially serious consequences to your CoE and visa when reducing your study load.

Prior to your application

We encourage you to make an appointment with your ANU Academic College to discuss your program plan and reasons for requiring a reduced study load. Applications are submitted no later than Census Date of the session for which you are seeking to drop courses.

If you are seeking to drop all of your courses for the study period, and you are not in your first session of enrolment, you must apply for Program Leave. If you are in your first session of enrolment for your program (excluding program transfers within ANU), and you wish to drop all of your enrolment, you must apply to withdraw from your program and reapply to the University for a later intake session.

Visa information

The Australian Government has announced a range of visa measures to support students impacted by COVID-19. For further information, please refer to the 'Visa Information' section of the COVID-19 Advice webpage.


Step 1
Complete application

Applications are submitted no later than 31st March for Study Period 1 or 31st August for Study Period 2 and completed using the Manage My Degree, via ISIS (Navbar (Compass Icon) > ISIS > Degree Management > Manage My Degree > Select "MMD - Coursework - Manage My Degree - Coursework").

It is important that you provide independent supporting documentation to support your claims. It is not sufficient to provide only a personal statement outlining your special circumstances, even if it is a statutory declaration or an affidavit. Where your reasons are due to academic grounds such as a change to course availability or inability to meet pre-requisite requirements due to course failure, the University staff will have access to this and you do not need to find evidence in support of these reasons for reducing your study load.

Requirements for independent supporting evidence

  • You must not submit photographs, audio files or videos with content that may be considered distressing or graphic. In addition, for any application where you are required to provide supporting evidence, photographs, audio files or videos are generally not considered appropriate evidence as their authenticity cannot be verified.
  • You are not required to provide certified copies of documents during the initial application process. However, the University reserves the right to require applicants to provide original documentation subsequently. Any document submitted may be audited and is subject to verification from the issuing body.
  • Documentation must be in English or an official translation must be provided. You should submit copies of both the original documentation and the English translation of the documentation.

Examples of supporting documentation

  • For medical reasons - a statement or medical certificate from a doctor including:
    • confirmation that the doctor has consulted with you and the date of consultation;
    • the date your medical condition began or changed;
    • how your condition affected your ability to study; and
    • when it became apparent that you could not continue with your studies and the duration for which you are expected to be affected.
    • Please Note: You should inform your doctor that the statement will be sent to ANU in support of your application.
  • For family/personal reasons - a statement from a doctor, counsellor or a relevant independent member of the community (e.g. a Justice of the Peace or a Minister of Religion) stating:
    • the date your personal circumstance began or changed;
    • how your circumstance affected your ability to study; and
    • when it became apparent you could not continue your studies.

You will be notified of the outcome of your application and reasons for the decision via email within 20 working days of the date the University receives a complete application.

Step 2
Formal appeal

If your application for reduced study load is unsuccessful, we encourage you to seek advice from an independent person knowledgeable about the process and aware of potential outcomes. The Dean of Students, and the ANU Student Association (ANUSA) are available to provide you with advice. You can approach both of these bodies if you are unsure of the advice you have received. Depending on your circumstances, Counselling or Accessibility may be able to provide you with some assistance as well.

If you remain dissatisfied with the decision made, you can lodge an appeal to be considered by the Associate Dean of the College where the decision was made. Your appeal should be in writing and contain the following information:

  • What decision was made;
  • Why this decision was not correct, with reference to the Coursework Awards Rule if appropriate; and
  • Any evidence relevant to your appeal that you have.

If you submit an appeal that does not contain information relating to the three points above, this may significantly affect the chances of your appeal being successful.

Once you have written your appeal, you should submit it to the following email address for the College that manages your program.



ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

ANU College of Business and Economics

ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science

ANU College of Health and Medicine

ANU College of Science

ANU College of Law


Your appeal MUST be submitted within 20 working days from when you were advised of the decision. Appeals received after this time will not be accepted.

Your appeal will then be considered by the Associate Dean, who may discuss it with parties relevant to the appeal. The Associate Dean will not discuss your appeal with any other individual, and your appeal will not affect any aspect of your future study at the ANU.

Within 20 working days of receiving your appeal, the Associate Dean will let you know the result of their consideration and whether your appeal was successful or unsuccessful.

For most students this is the conclusion of the available appeals process.

Step 3
Procedural appeal

A procedural appeal is an appeal claiming that the University has failed to follow the relevant rules, policies or procedures that govern this process, and this has unfairly disadvantaged you. In this case, it is where the Coursework Awards Rule was not appropriately followed by the University and correct process was not followed.

Examples of procedural grounds may be (but are not limited to):

  • The University did not adhere to published timeframes;
  • The original decision was made by someone without delegation;
  • You did not receive notification of the decision in writing.

If you are unsure of what a procedural appeal is or whether you may have grounds for one, we encourage you to discuss it with the Dean of Students prior to lodging a procedural appeal to ensure that you have a case.

If you believe that you do have grounds to lodge a procedural appeal, your appeal needs to be submitted to the Office of the Registrar (OTR) at You must lodge it within 20 working days from when you received the decision of the Associate Dean in Step 2. OTR will then organise for your procedural appeal to be passed on to the relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor for consideration.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor will only consider whether correct University procedure was followed when reviewing a procedural appeal. As a result, your appeal at this level should not be the same as the appeal submitted to the Associate Dean in Step 2.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor may discuss your appeal with relevant individuals to ensure they have all of the relevant information to make an accurate decision.

Once the decision has been made, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor will notify you of the outcome in writing within 20 working days.

The decision of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor is the final decision of the University.

Step 4
External appeal

Students who have appealed unsuccessfully to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor may appeal the decision to an external agency. Commonly students appeal these decisions to the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

Students have 20 working days from the date of the internal appeal outcome letter. Students must follow the lodgement instructions provided by the external agency.

Important: You must advise OTR at that you have lodged your appeal and provide the appeal lodgement number. Failure to do so may result in the termination of your enrolment or CoE in error.

Step 5
Apply for a fee refund

As students are required to apply for reduced study load before census date of their enrolment, where your application has been successful, you may apply for a refund of your tuition fees.



Advice to help

Fee refunds

Principal dates


Semester 1 begins


Semester 1 census date


Semester 2 begins


Semester 2 Census Date


Use the contact details to request an alternative format.