Policy Directory


Date approved:

31 July 2013

Date Procedure will take effect:

On approval

Date of Next Review:

July 2016

Approved by:

Acting Vice-Principal (Administration)

Custodian title & e-mail address:

International Student Compliance Officer, Client Service, ARD


International Student Compliance Officer(s)

Responsible Faculty/

Division & Unit:

Client Service, Academic Registrar’s Division

Supporting documents, procedures & forms of this policy:


References & Legislation:

Educational Services for Overseas Students Act 2001 (ESOS Act)
National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2007


Public – accessible to anyone

Expiry Date of Procedure:

Not applicable


1 Introduction / Background

  • 1. This procedure was introduced to comply with the Educational Services for Overseas Students Act 2001 (ESOS Act) and the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2007 (National Code 2007).
  • 2. International students are restricted from changing education providers until they have completed six (6) months study with their principal provider, unless the student can demonstrate exceptional circumstances. National Code 2007 requires under Standard 7 that “Registered providers assess requests from students for a transfer between registered providers prior to the student completing six months of the principal course of study in accordance with their documented procedures.”

2 Scope / Purpose

  • 1. The purpose of this procedure is to outline the process for releasing an international student from continued study.
  • 2. The University of Wollongong will grant an international student a release prior to the student having completed six (6) months study only if exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated and it is not to the detriment of the student to transfer to another provider

3 Definitions


Definition (with examples if required)

Accepted student

A person who has an offer to a University of Wollongong course and has been issued a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE)

Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE)

A document provided electronically, which is issued by the registered provider to intending overseas students and which must accompany their application for a student visa. It confirms the overseas student’s eligibility to enrol in the particular course of the registered provider.


Department of Immigration and Citizenship

Education provider

An educational institution which offers education to an international student and is registered on CRICOS.


The status of a student who is formally enrolled in a course at the University of Wollongong.

Illawarra Region

Ranging from Kiama to Helensburgh

International or overseas student

A student who is not a domestic student. This includes but is not limited to students on temporary residence visas, bridging visas and student visas.

Letter of release

A letter that formally advises a student that they have been granted a release from the University of Wollongong and may enrol at their intended education provider.

Principal course

The main course of study to be undertaken by an overseas student where a student visa has been issued for multiple courses of study. The principal course of study would normally be the final course of study where the overseas student arrives in Australia with a student visa that covers multiple courses.

Principal provider

The education provider of the principal course.


A student is discharged early from their obligations under Standard 7 of the National Code 2007.


A part of the education industry, for example the schools sector, VET sector or the Higher Education sector.


Student Online Services – used by students to access University messages


In this procedure a student refers to an international or overseas student on a student visa.

4 Release Processing

Admission and Previous Study in Australia

  • 1. Prior to a student being admitted to the University of Wollongong, a student may be required to provide to UniAdvice any release letters given to them by their previous Australian education provider.
  • 2. A student who is yet to complete six (6) months study at their principal provider and has not been released will not be eligible for admission to the University of Wollongong. An offer letter may be issued, however a Confirmation of Enrolment (COE) will not be issued until an appropriate release letter has been received.

Requirement for Release

  • 3. An accepted UOW student wishing to transfer to another Australian provider will need to apply for a letter of release if they have not completed six (6) months study in their principal course. For students who have enrolled at the University of Wollongong applications can be made online via SOLS. For students who have yet to enrol at the University of Wollongong applications can be made using the appropriate form available on the UOW website.
  • 4. An accepted student does not need a letter of release where:
        • a. the University of Wollongong has ceased to be registered or the course in which the student is enrolled has ceased to be registered; or
        • b. the University of Wollongong has had a sanction imposed on its registration by the Australian Government or state or territory government that prevents the student from continuing his or her principal course; or
        • c. the student has completed six (6) months study in their principal course.

Granting of Release

  • 5. The University will grant a letter of release to a student only if the University is satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist that prevent the student from completing six (6) months study at any University of Wollongong Campus.
  • 6. The student will be given written approval for their release and their enrolment will be discontinued. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) will be notified of the student’s withdrawal from their course and their CoE from the University of Wollongong will be cancelled.
  • 7. If a release is granted, it will be granted at no additional cost to the student.

Exceptional Circumstances

  • 8. Exceptional circumstances apply to the student only if the University is satisfied that the circumstances:
        • a. are beyond the student’s control; and
        • b. have not made their full impact on the student until after
          • i. the acceptance of their offer; or
          • ii. their formal enrolment in a University of Wollongong course; and
        • c. make it impractical for the person to complete six (6) months study at the University.
  • 9. Circumstances that make it impractical for the person to complete the requirements for their unit of study may include, but are not limited to, the following:
        • a. Medical grounds, which may include, but are not limited to serious illness or injury, hospitalisation, treatment programs, exacerbation of existing medical conditions or disability resulting in a person’s medical condition changing to such an extent that he or she is unable to continue studying at a University of Wollongong campus.
        • b. Compassionate grounds, whereby a student is affected by suffering or misfortune and is unable to continue studying at a University of Wollongong campus.
        • c. Course related circumstances, which may include, but are not limited to, where the University has changed the course it had offered and the person is disadvantaged by not being able to complete the course.
        • d. Any government sponsor of the student considers the change of provider to be in the student’s best interest and has provided written support for that change may be granted a letter of release.
  • 10. Where a student lives outside the Illawarra region, travelling to UOW will not be considered exceptional circumstances, unless the circumstances:
        • a. could not have been anticipated, or
        • b. changed after arrival to Australia.

Supporting Documentation

  • 11. Students applying for release from continued study shall submit supporting documentation which verifies their eligibility as stipulated in clause 4.8 - 4.10.
  • 12. Supporting documentation for applications on medical grounds includes an original medical certificate (or original certified copy) which must indicate:
        • a. the name of the student
        • b. the date the certificate was written and signed
        • c. the date on which the doctor considers the student is likely to return to studies, and should indicate the degree of incapacity of the student, and
        • d. be addressed to the parties requiring the certificate as evidence of illness (i.e. UOW).
  • 13. Supporting documentation for applications on compassionate grounds may include:
        • a. notification or letter from a registered psychologist (for example, a University Counsellor)
        • b. death certificate or death notice
        • c. police report or event number.
  • 14. Supporting documentation must be submitted to Student Central in hard copy, together with the application form, and must be written in English or be a certified and signed translation.
  • 15. Supporting documentation should be an original document. In circumstances where this is not possible, an original Justice of the Peace certified copy will suffice. All supporting documentation should indicate the exact dates of the event or circumstance.
  • 16. Applications without supporting documentation will normally not be approved.
  • 17. Where it is not possible to obtain supporting documentation, students must seek advice from the International Student Compliance Officer before or at the same time as lodging the application.
  • 18. To clarify a student’s supporting documentation, UOW may interview the student and use information obtained at interview as part of the release application.

Refusal of Release

  • 19. The University will refuse an application for release in the following circumstances:
        • a. insufficient evidence of exceptional circumstances
        • b. changing to a different sector or a lower level course without exceptional circumstances
        • c. changing to an institution that is not an eligible education provider, for the purpose of Streamlined Visa Processing, as approved by DIAC at: hhtp://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2013L01035
        • d. travel difficulties (with the exception of circumstances referred to in section 10)
        • e. work commitments
        • f. avoiding being reported to DIAC for breaching any student obligations or student visa conditions.
  • 20. If a student’s application is refused a letter of release, the student will be provided with written reasons for refusing the request and will be informed of their right to appeal the registered provider’s decision in accordance with the National Code 2007 Standard 8.
  • 21. Student is unable to meet the conditions set out by their current offer to the University of Wollongong; if applicable, the student will be refused a letter of release but will be granted a ‘conditions not met’ letter.
  • 22. The ‘conditions not met’ letter can only be issued once the student has made a practical attempt to satisfy the condition.
  • 23. A practical attempt includes (but is not limited to) the completion of:
        • a. an English for Tertiary Studies course at UOW College for duration specified on the offer letter
        • b. a Foundation Studies or Diploma course at UOW College for the duration specified on the offer letter
        • c. an English course at another provider, for which an offer letter and COE has been provided to the University
        • d. a formal English test, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
        • e. an academic program at another provider that is specified in the University of Wollongong offer letter.

Notification to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC)

  • 24. The University of Wollongong shall advise DIAC when an international student:
        • a. has withdrawn from a course, or
        • b. is cancelled from the course and not reinstated, or
        • c. has no current enrolment with the University of Wollongong.


  • 25. A student may appeal a release decision to the Senior Manager, Client Service within ten (10) working days of that decision. Grounds for consideration of an appeal include:
        • a. lack of due process
        • b. relevant new or additional information which may alter the outcome of the previous decision
  • 26. The Senior Manager, Client Service shall determine the outcome of the appeal and advise the student of the outcome within 10 working days.
  • 27. A student who is dissatisfied with the outcome or conduct of an appeal within the University may appeal to an external agency within ten working days of the outcome of the appeal. Students have the right to make a complaint to the NSW Ombudsman where there is evidence of maladministration or misconduct by the University of Wollongong. If a student decides to lodge a complaint with the NSW Ombudsman or other external agency, the student must notify the University of this decision within ten (10) working days of being notified of the outcome of the appeal.

5 Roles & Responsibilities

  • 28. It is the responsibility of the student to:
        • a. submit a complete application on the appropriate form with the appropriate supporting documentation
        • b. provide any further information requested by the University throughout the release application
        • c. ensure information and documentation provided in an application for release is true, correct and an accurate depiction of circumstances.
  • 29. It is the responsibility of the International Student Compliance Officer to:
        • a. complete a preliminary assessment of a student’s eligibility for a release for consideration by the Manager – Fees and Compliance Team within ten (10) working days of receiving the complete application.
        • b. if a release is approved, issue a letter of release to the student
        • c. if a release is declined, issue the student a letter with reasons for the denial of the application and provide information on the appeal process
        • d. report any approved release applications to DIAC.
  • 30. It is the responsibility of the Manager – Fees and Compliance Team to decide whether a release should be granted based on the student’s application and the International Student Compliance Officer’s preliminary assessment.
  • 31. It is the responsibility of the Senior Manager – Client Service to assess and determine any appeals in accordance with this procedure.

6 Version Control Table

Version Control

Date Effective

Approved By



1 July 2007

ESOS National Code Project Coordinator

First Version


18 Jan 2010

Academic Registrar

Incorporated in UOW Procedure Template.


29 March 2010

Senior Manager, Business Solutions

Review undertaken. Revisions to meet ESOS requirements. Other editorial corrections made.


31 July 2013

Acting Deputy
Vice-Principal (Administration)

Review undertaken. Revisions made to exceptional circumstances. Policy Custodian changed to Senior Manager, Client Service. Other editorial corrections made.

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