International students studying in Australia can change courses if they find it is not suitable for them but they must follow the visa rules and regulations.

The Department of Immigration and Border Control (DIBP) is currently running a campaign to educate people with student visas so they don't fall foul of the rules.

student visas

Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Control is currently running a campaign to educate on the rules and regulations for student visas​

It has issued a case history showing what can happen, especially among students who discover that their level of English perhaps leads them to struggle with a demanding and technical course.

Like many potential students seeking to study in Australia, Trung had heard a lot about the country. His cousin had studied in Australia and Trung believed if he trained in Australia this would result in good employment prospects. His dream was to set up a boutique hotel so he applied to the Australian University to undertake a Bachelor of Commerce and the education agent assisted him in applying for a visa to be able to study this course.

Trung arrived in Australia on a Higher Education Sector subclass 573 visa in late July. He was excited to start his course but as the semester progressed he felt overwhelmed by how intense and technical the lectures were. He also struggled with the Australian accent and after eight weeks Trung began to lose interest in the course and stopped attending classes.

Trung went to the ******** Institute and sought to enrol in a Certificate III in Hospitality which would mean he could still pursue his dream of opening a hotel. The student advisor explained to Trung that he required a release letter from the Australian University prior to being able to enrol with ******** Institute. He applied for a release letter but was not granted one.

Trung then called the DIBP for advice. Officials explained that his current visa was granted to study in the higher education sector at the Australian University and as Trung wanted to study Hospitality at the vocational level he needed a Vocational Education and Training Sector subclass 572 student visa which is the correct visa for students that study in vocational education and training courses.

The department told Trung he needed to apply for this visa from his home country. So he decided to go home and apply for a subclass 572 student visa for the course at ******** Institute. He was happy in his course once he returned to Australia on the subclass 572 visa and thinks he may go back to the bachelor course once he has completed this stage of his education.

'It is important to seek advice if you are changing course and this example shows it may mean having to return to your home country and then apply for a different visa subclass. We urge all students to contact us for advice if they find themselves in this situation and not risk staying in Australia illegally,' said an official.