Policy Student Matters Transfer of International Student Visa Holders to Other Educational Institutions

Transfer of International Student Visa Holders to Other Educational Institutions

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This Policy states the principles to be applied and the procedures to be followed when assessing international student visa holders who request a ‘Letter of Release’ to transfer to another educational institution.


This policy applies to any current JCU student who:

  • Is studying in Australia under the student visa program and

  • Requests a ‘Letter of Release’ in order to transfer to another Registered Provider in Australia, in accordance with Commonwealth and Queensland legislated requirements.


Definition of terms used in this policy are as per the Policy Glossary, with the following additions:

Letter of Release – A letter from the University giving approval to an international student visa-holder to transfer to another Registered Provider of education prior to them completing six months of their Principal Course of study.  The letter must provide information about whether or not the student demonstrated a commitment to their studies during the course and paid all outstanding fees for the course.

National Code – Australian National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2007.

Package of Courses – A Package of Courses is offered to a student for the purpose of arranging one student visa for the full expected duration of their studies, for example where one course is a prerequisite to another of the courses.

Principal Course – the student’s main course of study with the University, or that leading to the highest qualification in a student’s Package of Courses.

Registered Provider - an institution that is registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) as an approved provider of courses for the state.

Policy and Procedures


The purpose of a Letter of Release is to enable an international student to enrol with another Australian education provider of their choosing, recognising international students as consumers with the right to set their educational goals and choose an appropriate course to meet those goals.  Therefore this Policy reflects the following principles:

  • JCU aims to support international students in their transition to study in Australia and will not support a transfer if it is determined that a premature change of course will be detrimental to the student.

  • Before submitting an application to study with another Registered Provider, students are encouraged to consider and clearly understand how a transfer would better meet their personal requirements or long term goals.

  • Requests for a Letter of Release will be assessed and responded to in a timely manner.  Responses to requests will be issued in writing, regardless of the decision.

  • Where a Letter of Release is requested and approved it will be provided without conditions and at no cost to the student.

  • A student has the right to appeal a decision by JCU not to grant a Letter of Release.

  • A student must maintain their enrolment with JCU and participate in classes while their application for a Letter of Release is considered.

1)   Grounds for Granting a Letter of Release

A Letter of Release will be granted at no cost to an international student where the student has already completed 6 months of their Principal Course of study with JCU or the student’s government sponsor considers the change to be in the student’s best interest and has provided written support for that change.

Provided that there are no grounds for denying a request, as listed in Clause 2) below, a Letter of Release will also be granted if the following circumstances exist:

  • compassionate and compelling circumstances that are beyond the control of the student, for example if a PhD candidate’s Principal Supervisor has moved to another institution;

  • the new provider’s offer is for a higher level tertiary qualification;

  • the student has successfully completed an award at JCU previously;

  • the other registered provider offers support for particular needs of the student, where that support is not available at the JCU campus. Support services may include, for example, access to a cultural support network, learning support or counselling services;

  • the student provides evidence that they were misled by a JCU staff member or an official agent of the University regarding JCU or the course in which they are enrolled.

2)   Grounds for Denying a Letter of Release

A Letter of Release will not be granted in the following instances:

  • the student has outstanding course fees for the current study period;

  • where a valid enrolment offer from another Registered Provider is not provided;

  • where a student under the age of 18 years at the request date and has not provided written confirmation from their legal guardian or parent to support the transfer;

  • where the student’s government sponsor has not provided written support for the change.

  • A Letter of Release will not be granted if a transfer is assessed as being detrimental to the student’s welfare or their future studies after taking into account all relevant factors such as:

  • Where a student applies to transfer to another provider in a different Education sector (e.g. VET sector) or another course level (e.g. Master to Bachelor course) and JCU’s Academic Advisor or Course Coordinator determines that the transfer is not in the student’s best interests, for example where the student is downgrading for reasons unrelated to their academic ability and they are likely to succeed in their present course;

  • Where the transfer may jeopardise the student’s progression through a package of courses;

  • Where a student has not accessed the University's available support services for assistance with their studies and/or personal problems, for example, they have not sought assistance from JCU’s learning support or counselling services following a referral; or

  • The scheduled date for commencing classes at the other Registered Provider has passed at the date of lodging the request for a Letter of Release.

A Letter of Release will not generally be granted if the only reasons provided with the request are that the student changed their mind or wants to live somewhere else.

Calculating six months completion of the Principal Course

The start date for calculating the six month limitation period is when the student starts, or is scheduled to start, their Principal Course.  Where a student has had a break from their studies due to a deferment or suspension, that break is not counted for the purpose of determining if the student has completed six months of the Principal Course.


3)   Requesting a Letter of Release

Students must submit a written Request for a Letter of Release and supporting documents to:

  • The Manager, Academic Administration and enrolment for Townsville and Cairns students; or

  • The Campus Director, for Brisbane students.

To be eligible to receive a Letter of Release the student must:

  • Pay all outstanding fees to JCU;

  • Provide supporting documents including a valid enrolment offer from another Registered Provider;

  • Provide written confirmation from their legal guardian or parent to support the transfer, where the student is under the age of 18 years at the date of submitting the request;

  • Provide written support for the change from their government sponsor, if applicable.

The University will acknowledge receipt of the Request for a Letter of Release by email to the student’s JCU email address.


Where the request is approved, JCU will issue a written Letter of Release.  The Letter of Release will issue within ten (10) working days of receiving the request and will be sent together with separate advice to the student on:

-  The requirement for them contact the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) directly to determine the affect of the transfer on their student visa and

-  Instructions on how to complete the withdrawal process at JCU.

Any course tuition fees or refunds will be determined in accordance with the university’s Tuition Fee Policy for International Students.

Where the request is unsuccessful, JCU will notify the student in writing of the decision, including the reasons for the decision and the avenues for internal or external appeal as appropriate. (see Student Review and Appeals Policy)


Records of requests for letters of release and the process used to make a decision in relation to the request will be documented and retained on the student’s file.

4)   Appeals

Where a student’s request for a Letter of Release is denied, the student has the right to appeal the decision. (see Student Review and Appeals Policy)

Appeal Outcome

An appellant will be notified of the outcome of their Appeal, and the reasons for the decision.

If the appeal is successful, then a Letter of Release will be issued in accordance with Clause 3).

If the appeal is unsuccessful, then the appellant will be advised in writing with information on their rights to lodge an external appeal with an independent organisation such as the Queensland Ombudsman that provides free and impartial external appeals processes.  The Queensland Ombudsman has jurisdiction to investigate administrative actions undertaken by Queensland universities.

Students may contact the office of the Queensland Ombudsman at any time throughout or after the complaint process.  Generally the Ombudsman only investigates claims once all internal appeals processes with the university are determined and internal appeal avenues are exhausted.)

Related documents, legislation or JCU Statutes

Australian   National Code   of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018, Standard 7

Queensland Education (Overseas Students) Regulations 1998, Section 10

Student Complaint Management Policy and Procedures

Student Fee Payments and Refunds Policy

JCU Letter of Release Template


NOTE: Printed copies of this policy are uncontrolled, and currency can only be assured at the time of printing.

Approval Details

Policy DomainAcademic Governance
Policy Sub-domainStudent Experience

Policy Custodian

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Services and Resources

Approval Authority

Academic Board

Date for next Major Review

01/07/2016, or following any relevant change to the National Code

Revision History


Approval date

Implementation date




Minor amendment to update Approval Authority after Council approved changes to Policy and Delegations Responsibilities Map placing Academic Board as the Approval Authority for International policies.

Policy Officer
19-109/03/201822/03/2019Policy moved to International Policy Domain in line with Council resolution 09/03/2018Quality, Standards and Policy Officer
18-101/11/201805/12/2018Minor amendments to reflect establishment of Student Appeals PolicyChair of Academic Board




Minor amendments to align to Council approved Academic and Student Delegations Register

Associate Director, Enrolment and Client Services




Policy sponsor and approval authority amended to reflect approved policy framework





DVC, University Services changed to DVC Academic

Policy Officer











Policy established



International students, transfer, national code, ESOS, letter of release
Contact personManager International Compliance