International Student FAQs

International Student FAQs

We encourage you to regularly check the Swinburne News article or Swinburne's COVID-19 hub for the latest advice and information on Swinburne's response.

On this page:

Other resources:



Our response to COVID-19

Australia continues to be one of the safest countries in the world and is demonstrating its health leadership in its management of the COVID-19 situation. At Swinburne, we acted quickly to establish a dedicated COVID-19 Taskforce who remain committed to closely monitoring and managing the situation.

To minimise the risks to our community, Swinburne follows the latest advice from Australia's federal and state governments and local health authorities, and we will continue to remain flexible and respond to any changes in advice.

We are currently operating under a blend of digital delivery (working and studying remotely from home) and face-to-face delivery where available. We will continue to keep staff and students regularly updated on any changes.



I have applied to study at Swinburne in 2021. Will classes be on campus or online?

In 2021, students outside Australia will start their classes fully online until travel restrictions are lifted, and you can travel to Australia to continue your studies on campus.

If you are in Australia, classes will be delivered either fully online or through a “blended learning” experience. We are integrating face-to-face delivery with digital learning experiences to maximise flexibility and create a uniquely Swinburne experience. This combined digital and on-campus study will ensure that you can continue to meet the learning outcomes required for each unit, and make the most of the many opportunities available to you as a Swinburne student.

Swinburne students who want to discuss their study options are advised to contact Library and studentHQ on +61 3 9214 8444 (outside Australia) or 1300 794 628 (within Australia) or email in the first instance.

What are the 2021 midyear start dates for students?

For Higher Education students, your Semester 2 2021 start date is 2 August 2021. Higher Education Block 5 start date is 12 July 2021.

For Vocational Education students, please check your course planner for your start dates.

For Foundation Year and UniLink students, our June intake commences online on 28 June 2021. The October intake will commence on 18 October 2021.

For English language (ELICOS) students, the commencement dates are:

  • Intake 5 - 3 June 2021
  • Intake 6 - 15 July 2021
  • Intake 7 - 26 August 2021
  • Intake 8 - 7 October 2021
  • Intake 9 - 11 November 2021

View Swinburne’s academic calendar.

My course offer is conditional on provision of English language ability test and my final semester mark sheet. Can I still start my course online?

You will need to provide us with your English language test results, so we can make sure you have met the conditions of your offer. If you are unable to meet this condition, unfortunately you cannot start your course.

If you are unable to undertake one of the approved English language ability tests, we will temporarily accept the following for courses commencing in 2021 and 2022:

  • TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition test for entry into Foundation Year, UniLink, undergraduate and postgraduate courses (except for education, law, psychological science, honours in psychology and psychological science, and professional degree courses)
  • Duolingo and LinguaSkill General tests for entry into Foundation Year, UniLink and undergraduate courses (except for education, law, psychological science, honours in psychology and psychological science, and professional degree courses)
  • All of these tests can be taken from the comfort of your home.

While these tests have been approved for entry to Swinburne, they may not satisfy the requirements for an Australian student visa. You may be required to take an additional language test to qualify for a student visa. Any questions related to student visas for study in Australia should be directed to the Department of Home Affairs nearer the time of your student visa application.

As an international student, Swinburne also additional language support available to you. This is an additional service that we provide to you at no cost and it will not impact the duration of your study with us. If you would like additional language support, please contact our Learning and Academic Skills (LAS) Centre. If you inform us that you need additional language support, you will need to take a Versant test to help us determine the level of language support required.

I am a Year 12 student and my board exams were cancelled due to COVID-19. What are my options if I want to pursue studies at Swinburne?

In order to accept a Swinburne offer and start online, you will need to provide us with your Year 12 exam results. If you do not have your exam results available, you can choose to defer your offer to the next available intake, then once your results are available, accept your offer to start online. Alternatively, you can choose to study a Swinburne Foundation Year course, which is equivalent to Year 12, and progress to your chosen bachelor degree on successful completion of your Foundation Year course.

My current offer specifies that I need to pay for Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). Why would I need this if I am not going to be traveling to Australia for my studies right now?

OSHC is a mandatory requirement when applying for a student visa. You will need to pay for OSHC, or provide proof of OSHC, if you apply for your student visa.

What happens to my Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) if I choose to start my course online?

If you have received your CoE from Swinburne, you can use this to apply for a student visa. You do not need a student visa to undertake online studies in your home country.

For the most up-to-date advice about visas and post-study work rights, please visit the Department of Home Affairs website.

If you have not received your CoE from Swinburne, you will need to arrange Overseas Student Health Cover and pay tuition fees for your remaining units once Australia re-opens its borders. We will then send you a CoE, which you will need to submit as a part of your Australian student visa application.

I am currently overseas and I have an existing Swinburne scholarship. How does that work with the Swinburne X LinkedIn International Program?

You can only hold one scholarship or reduced fee arrangement at one time, whichever is of higher value.  

If I defer my offer to the next available intake, will I still be eligible for my awarded scholarship?

Generally, scholarships are not deferrable. Please refer to the terms and conditions of your scholarship in your offer letter.


What is Canvas?

Canvas is our learning management system. In the coming days your courses will be made visible. It will have all the key information as well as access to course materials. Information relating to your units will be communicated via Canvas, or via your student email.  If you have any questions regarding these, please talk to your unit convenor.  Further study support can be found via our Learning and Academic Skills team, and also using Studiosity.
You’ll find more general information about Canvas and also how to set it up here.


I have no idea what online learning would be like and whether I would be able to adapt. Is there a way I can see a demonstration?

The best way to experience online learning is to try it out for yourself. At Swinburne, you can start online risk-free. To get started, simply accept your offer and begin your classes remotely from the comfort of your home.

If you discover that online learning is not for you, you will have the option of deferring your course to the next intake before census date, subject to travel restriction clearance. Remember to apply for a deferral before the relevant census date to avoid incurring any debt.

If you discover that you enjoy online learning but would still like some additional support, we have a range of free Study and Learning Support Services available to help you succeed.

Would I need to purchase any specific software to engage in online learning? What are the other system requirements that I may need to be able to study online?

You will need a modern computer (laptop or desktop) with reliable, high-speed internet access. If you plan to study architecture, design, film or any other creative course, the recommended minimum requirements are:


  • Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon® 64 processor
  • Microsoft® Windows® 7 with Service Pack 1 or Windows 8
  • 1GB of RAM (3GB recommended) for 32 bit or 2GB of RAM (8GB recommended) for 64 bit
  • 20GB of available hard-disk space
  • 1024×768 display (1280×800 recommended)

Mac OS

  • Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support
  • Mac OS X v10.6.8, v10.7 or v10.8
  • 2GB of RAM (8GB recommended)
  • 20GB of available hard-disk space
  • 1024×768 display (1280×800 recommended)

As a Swinburne student, you will also have free access to Adobe Creative Cloud software (including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and much more) anywhere, on any device, for the entire time you are studying with us.

We cannot guarantee access to online content from outside of Australia due to differing internet speeds and content restrictions.

For more information on student hardware and software, visit our website.

How many units do I need to study online? Do I get to choose these units?

Due to the COVID-19 situation, Australia's higher education regulator has temporarily relaxed the online study restriction, so that you are now able to study as much of your course as necessary online.

Additionally, you can study a reduced course load if you are impacted by COVID-19. If you hold a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) from Swinburne and want to study a reduced course load, please complete the Enrolment Amendment Form to request an underload.

Starting your studies online (until you can join us on campus) will allow you to adapt to digital learning and the Australian teaching style. Our team of Higher Education and PAVE Course Advisers will help you to develop a personalised study plan and select online units.

How do I enrol and set my timetable?

If you are outside of Australia, once you accept your Swinburne offer, a Higher Education or PAVE Course Adviser will contact you by email to provide you with your personalised study plan and confirm your enrolled units. Our Timetable team will create your class timetable for you. This means you will not have to set up your timetable yourself.

If you are currently in Australia, once you accept your offer, you can self-manage your enrolment via My enrolment. Once enrolled, you can set up your timetable via My class timetable. Please note that our enrolment process is different for continuing students and new students.

If you need help with your enrolment, you can contact us on +61 3 9214 8444 (outside Australia) or 1300 794 628 (within Australia) or email

How many classes will I have a week? What time would these classes be held? I am in a different time zone than Australia. How will this affect my learning?

The number of classes you have will depend on the number of units you study. Please refer to your class timetable for your full class schedule.

For additional information about planning and scheduling your class timetable and troubleshooting, please visit the Setting up your class timetable page.

Make sure you check Canvas regularly. If you have any questions about Canvas, please check out our Canvas FAQs.

Will studying online reduce the duration of my course?

While it won’t reduce the duration of your course, studying online will help you maintain your course progression and provide you with the possibility of completing your course within the original expected completion time. This will depend on the number of units you still have to complete. Our Higher Education and PAVE Course Advisers can provide you with study plan options.

Will my academic transcript specify that I studied online (remotely)?

No, your academic transcript will not indicate the mode of delivery or study location.

If I commence online studies but feel online learning is not working for me, what do I do next?

If you decide online learning is not for you, you can:

Remember to do either option before census date to avoid any financial stress. View the academic calendar to determine the relevant census date for each semester or teaching period.

Can I still contact my teacher, lecturer or tutor?

Yes. Academic teaching staff are still accessible to students while they are delivering lectures and tutorials online. Your unit convenor or teacher will provide you with more information on how to best contact them during your first lecture. You can find the details of your unit convenor in Canvas. Alternatively, you can use our unit convenor search.

What will happen with exams?

For Semester 1 2021, all final assessments will take place online as alternative assessments, facilitated by unit convenors using Canvas.

For Semester 2 2021, most final assessments will take place online as alternative assessments, facilitated by unit convenors using Canvas. A small number of final assessments will take place on campus in traditional exam format.

What happens if I fail a unit in 2021?

Fail grades will have an impact on your GPA and will be recorded on your academic transcript. However, if you feel that your studies have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 situations, you may be eligible for a review of your fair results. 

For more details about results and your GPA, please visit the Understanding your academic results page.

Can I return to my home country for the holidays?

We recommend that you do not plan any travel home before your current teaching period is complete (including receiving results or completing any special consideration exams or assessments). Due to the unpredictability of the COVID-19 situations, students who had returned home at the end of recent teaching periods have been unable to return to Australia. If you are unsure about what is best for your own situation, make an appointment with an International Student Adviser to discuss your personal circumstances.

It is important for Swinburne to be aware of your travel plans from the safety perspective and your student visa status. Please let us know whether you plan to return to your home country by emailing us.

If you leave Australia, you may not be able to return until the Australian border reopens, unless you have a travel exemption from the Australian Border Force. For more information, please visit the Department of Home Affairs website.



My student visa is about to expire, what should I do?

Visa extensions are not automatic. You must apply for a new student visa if you are continuing your current course at Swinburne.

Important visa information can also be found on the Department of Home Affairs website.

If you have questions about your student visa, you should contact the Department of Home Affairs. If you have other queries, you can also contact our International Student Advisory and Support team by calling +61 3 9214 6741 or emailing  

I heard there is a student visa application fee waiver for students affected by COVID-19. Am I eligible for the waiver?

The Department of Home Affairs has announced that they will waive the visa application fee for students who held a student visa on or after 1 February 2020 and who could not complete their course within their original visa validity due to the impacts of COVID-19. For more information, please refer to the Department of Home Affairs website.

To be eligible to have your application for a fee waiver considered, you will first need to ask Swinburne to complete a Form 1545 COVID-19 Impacted Student (PDF - 228 KB) on your behalf, then submit the completed form with your application for a student visa. Only new applications will be eligible to have the application fee waived.

To request a completed Form 1545, please email our Compliance team at from your Swinburne student email address with the subject line 'Form 1545 request'. In the email, you must provide a copy of the biographical (primary information) page of the passport you will be using for your student visa application, along with a short statement on how COVID-19 impacted your studies resulting in the need for a new student visa to finish your course.

Do I need to study a full-time study load?

International students on a student visa must study a full-time study load, whether you are onshore or offshore. However, if you are affected by COVID-19, you can apply for a reduced study load by completing the Enrolment Amendment form.

Will my student visa be valid if I reduce my course load in 2021?

Yes, your student visa will remain valid if you are given approval to have a reduced study load. We will continue to be as flexible as we can and we will allow international students to undertake a reduced course load for 2021 as a result of COVID-19 (which we consider to be compassionate and compelling circumstances). If you wish to undertake a reduced load, please complete the Enrolment Amendment form to request an underload.

If you do wish to undertake a reduced study load, a Higher Education or PAVE Course Adviser can guide you with advice on how this could affect your expected course completion date. For more advice on reducing your course load, you can also speak to an International Student Adviser at or call us on +61 3 9214 8444.

If I commence my studies online in Semester 2 2021, would I be eligible for a Post-Study Work Visa (485)?

Due to the impact of COVID-19, Australia's Department of Home Affairs has announced that online study undertaken outside Australia while holding a valid student visa will count towards the Australian Study Requirements for a Post-Study Work Visa (485).

For the most up-to-date advice about visas and post study work rights, please visit the Department of Home Affairs website.

What is Swinburne’s refund policy in case I start my studies online but receive a visa rejection at a later stage?

If your visa application is rejected or refused by the Department of Home Affairs, you will be able to request a full refund of any prepaid fees, less any tuition fees used for completed units. For more information about refunds, visit our Refunds for international students page.

When will Australia's travel restriction lift?

Although Australia's borders remain strictly controlled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Australian Federal, State and Territories Governments are working together on a plan to welcome international students back to Australia. Further information will be available on the Study in Australia website shortly.

Student visas continue to be processed, so that students are able to travel to Australia once borders reopen.

Travel to Australia is only permitted if you are exempt or you have been granted an individual exemption. Exemptions are generally only approved in very limited compelling and compassionate circumstances, and must supported by relevant documentary evidence. For more information, visit the Department of Home Affairs website.


I have decided not to come to Australia and want to withdraw from my course. Can I get a full refund?

Our goal is to support you to study with us at Swinburne and we invite you to speak to one of our International Student Advisers via email at or call +61 3 9214 6741 to discuss your circumstances.

If you choose to withdraw from your course, please refer to your signed Offer Acceptance form for the applicable refund provisions. In some cases, you will not be entitled to any refund.

For additional information on student refund, please visit our Refunds for international students page.


If I have an issue relating to COVID-19 measures, does Swinburne have a special department or contact person I can ask for help?

If your question is related to your student visa, Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE), travel, accommodation or health, please email our International Student Advisers at or call us on +61 3 9214 6741.

If your question is about your enrolment, please submit a question online to our Library and studentHQ team or call us on +61 3 9214 8444.

What support is available to international students?

As an international student, we have a dedicated team of International Student Advisers available to help you at any time on or +61 3 9214 6741. They can provide you with advice and help on everything from accommodation issues and understanding your tenancy rights during COVID-19, to undertaking a reduced study load. They can also refer you to other support services if you need specialist or personal advice.

The after-hours assistance line for international students is also available for urgent assistance (5pm-9am weekdays and 24 hours on weekends and public holidays) on +61 3 9214 6741.

If you are having trouble with your studies or feeling unsure about your course, our Higher Education / UniLink Academic Development Advisers and Vocational Education Student Success Coaches can chat to you about any problems you're having and help you work out how to get your studies back on track.

Our Learning and Academic Skills (LAS) Centre is also available online to provide you with study and assignment support. One-on-one appointments are available via phone, Zoom or Skype. Study Smarter workshops are available via Zoom, so you can continue to build your academic skills remotely. For more information, including on how to book an appointment, go to the LAS page.

Studiosity is a 24/7 online support service available to all undergraduate and postgraduate students. You can ask questions to real-life subject matter experts, submit draft assignments and receive feedback on spelling, grammar, structure and more, all within 24 hours. To access Studiosity, log in to Canvas and select the Studiosity tab of any unit menu.

While in Australia, if you are feeling unwell, anxious, stressed or concerned about your health, you can book an appointment with Wellbeing at Swinburne on +61 3 9214 8483.

The Student Life Advocacy service provides information, advice and referrals to assist students with issues relating to Swinburne’s policies, procedures and processes. The service is independent, confidential and free. To book a appointment, call +61 3 9214 5445 or email

Our Careers and Employability services and programs are available online to help you develop your employability skills and get career-ready. Log in to SwinEmploy for more information.

We understand this may be a difficult and uncertain time for many of our students. If you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 and need support, please email us with details of your situation.

If you would like additional help or support, you can contact our International Student Counter team at

Our Swinburne College Student Counter team can be contacted at or +61 3 9214 5671.

What financial support can international students access from the government?

As in any country, the financial support available to residents may be different to what is available to temporary entrants. The Victorian Government has recently introduced an additional $30 million funding package, on top of a $31 million package, to ensure critical help to communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

This funding will help to fund the continuation of the Foodbank International Student Pop Up Store until the end of 2021 and the extension of the Red Cross Extreme Hardship Support Program to the end of 2021. These programs will continue to support international students to meet basic needs such as rent, utilities and groceries. You can also find more resources on the Study Melbourne website.

Swinburne's International Student Advisory and Support team maintains a range of connections within the Melbourne community and keep a list of known community supports available. This include practical and financial help available to international students from various agencies specialising in food, finance, housing, support hubs across multiple councils, homelessness, clothing and more. Contact our International Student Advisers via or +61 3 9214 674 to discuss your particular circumstances and available support.

You can also read more information about available financial support international students on our COVID-19 hub, including Swinburne initiatives and government benefits for you to consider. Remember to check your eligibility and relevant websites for further details.


If you feel that your studies have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 situations, you may be eligible for a review of your fail results by applying for special consideration.

Your application will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and your fail result may be removed by backdating a withdrawal from the unit to prior to 16 April 2021 (i.e. the last date to withdraw from units without academic penalty). This means that the enrolment or grade will not appear on your transcript.

If your application is successful, you are still liable for the fees for the unit(s). If this unit is a required part of your degree, you will need to repeat the unit. 

Who is eligible?

International students (both onshore and offshore) who are enrolled in a Swinburne undergraduate, postgraduate, pathways or foundation course, and have failed one or more unit(s) in Semester 1 2021, Term 2 2021 and Pathways Teaching 1, whose studies have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 situation.

Applicants will need to demonstrate that they have been directly impacted by COVID-19, such as the serious illness of close family members. A general sense of being stressed by the situation is not sufficient for a fail grade to be converted.

Which grades can be converted?

Grades that are subject to special consideration (no pass grades are eligible)

Fail Grade Code



Fail 0% – 49%


Fail – No Attempt


Withdrawn Fail


Not Complete


Failed Supplementary


What does this mean for you?

If your special consideration application is approved, you:

  • will still be liable to pay your full tuition fees for the affected units
  • will not incur any academic penalty – your fail result will not appear on your transcript.

Will I be assessed for academic progress review?

If your special consideration application is approved, your failed units will be withdrawn without academic penalty, which means these units will not be counted towards the assessment of your academic progress.

Will this impact my Grade Point Average GPA?

Once your result is amended to a withdrawal (WD), the grade will not contribute to your GPA.

Will I be required to repeat this unit?

Yes, you will be required to repeat the unit if this is a required part of your course structure. You will be liable to pay full fees for the next attempt.

When do I apply?

Please go to the Special consideration and extension page for more information.

How do I apply?

You can apply through the special consideration online portal when your fail result is published. Your application will not be assessed if you apply before your result is released and you will need to re-apply once it is released.