3.3.4.70 Austudy & Progress Rules for Tertiary Study

Summary

This page explores the following topics relating to Austudy progress rules for tertiary study:

  • how progress is measured,
  • allowable time,
  • assessment of continuing qualification,
  • allowable time when studying a second course, and
  • students with a disability.

Progress rules

Progress of tertiary students is measured against the minimum amount of time (1.1.M.140) it would normally take a student to complete a course either full-time (1.1.F.230) or part-time (1.1.P.100), as appropriate. Study in courses at the same level (1.1.L.40) are all measured against the same allowable time.

Allowable time

Allowable time is measured against the minimum time to complete the tertiary course CURRENTLY being studied. Time already spent in study at the SAME LEVEL in the previous 10 years is then deducted from this limit to determine whether the recipient is still qualified for the payments. Whether a person was in receipt of student payments or not at the time they previously studied is irrelevant in the allowable time assessment, as all previous study attempted in the previous 10 years is counted. The 10 years is counted from the day on which the student enrols in their current course, not their current year of study.

Example: Jack enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts in Semester 1, 2005. At the end of Semester 2, 2005, he withdrew from his course and did not complete the degree. In Semester 2,2015, he enrolled in a Bachelor of Science. As he has undertaken study at the same level in the previous 10 years, the Semester 2 of his Bachelor of Arts from 2005 will be taken into account to assess his allowable time for his Bachelor of Science. Semester 1 of his Bachelor of Arts in 2005 will be disregarded as it is outside of 10 years. However, if Jack was to commence the Bachelor of Science in 2016, the Bachelor of Arts would not be taken into account as it has been more than 10 years since he has undertaken any previous study at the same level.

It should be noted that Jack's allowable time will be assessed from the day on which he enrols in his current course, not from when he enrols in each year of the course. If Jack enrols in the course in Semester 2, 2015, his allowable time will include the study from Semester 2, 2005. His allowable time will not be reset in Semester 1, 2016 even though the previous study would be more than 10 years ago.

Recipients can study a second course at the SAME level within the allowable study time rules. Recipients may commence or continue to receive Austudy for any study period/s that they enrol in, for a second course at the SAME level, when there is any additional allowable time available to them in respect of the study period/s. This is irrespective of whether a recipient had received Austudy for the first qualification.

The following table provides a guide to allowable time for full-time students, 66% concessional study-load students, and 25% concessional study-load students.

If the minimum time to complete the course is… Then the recipient is a full-time student or a 66% concessional study-load student for… Then the recipient is a 25% concessional study-load student for…
one year or less, the minimum time of the course.

Twice the minimum period in which it is possible to complete the course as a full-time student.

more than one year AND the subjects are all semester based, the minimum time of the course plus half a year.
more than one year AND at least one subject in the current year is year based, the minimum time of the course plus one year.
more than one year AND the student's further progress in the course depends on passing a whole year's work in the course, the minimum time of the course plus one year.

The allowable study time for a course undertaken by a 25% concessional study-load student is generally twice the minimum period in which it is possible to complete the course as a full-time student. The Secretary may approve allowable study time of up to 4 times the minimum period in particular cases (3.3.4.40).

If a student has studied part-time for a course over a certain period, the time spent by the student on that course is taken to be the proportion of that period calculated by using the formula:

Study undertaken ÷ Normal full-time study

A student will cease to qualify for Austudy once they exceed the allowable study time.

Example: Mary commenced a 3-year Bachelor of Arts in Semester 1, 2012 and all units are semester based. As Mary has not undertaken any previous study at this level, her allowable time for the course is 3 ½ years. Provided she continues to meet the activity test, Mary will reach her allowable time at the beginning of Semester 2, 2015. However, as Austudy requires the allowable time to be exceeded before payment will cease, Mary is eligible for payment until the start of Semester 1, 2016 when her allowable time is next tested.

However, should Mary commence a summer semester, she will have achieved her allowable time at the commencement of the summer semester.

Example: Greg finished a Bachelor degree at the end of 2014 (all units were semester based) within the minimum time allowed for the course - 3 years. Greg wants to do another Bachelor course from Semester 1, 2015. As Greg did not exceed his allowable time of 3 ½ years for his first Bachelor degree, he will be eligible for Austudy until the beginning of Semester 1, 2016, at which point he will have exceeded his allowable time.

Note: The study progress rules for YA require the allowable study time to be reached, rather than exceeded, before payment ceases. If Mary was in receipt of YA, her payment would cease at the end of Semester 1, 2015 (3.2.7.110). If Greg was in receipt of YA, he would receive YA for the entire second course as there are no limits on how many courses a person can do at the same level.

However, certain periods of time can be disregarded in determining whether a person has exceeded the allowable study time (for a full-time student or a concessional study-load student). These include, among others:

  • time spent undertaking a prerequisite course, where the prerequisite course is normally required for admission to a student's current course,
  • study in a course undertaken more than 10 years ago, unless the course has since been completed,
  • a failed year, or part of a year, of study if the failure is because of the person's illness or other circumstances beyond the person's control,
  • time spent undertaking a course that has been permanently discontinued because of circumstances beyond the person's control.

A full list of circumstances to be taken into account in considering whether a full-time or concessional study-load student has exceeded the allowable study time is contained in the SSAct section 569H(7).

Example: A student who has been advised that the course of study they are undertaking is being/will be permanently discontinued and, as a consequence, they will not be able to complete their course of study, may have the period of study already spent on that course disregarded from the allowable study time. Conversely, a student who chooses to discontinue a course of study because they have been advised that the course they are undertaking is being/will be permanently discontinued for future students, but they are still able to complete their course of study if they choose, will not be able to have their period of study in that course disregarded from the allowable study time.

Levels of study - allowable time

A student can undertake one course at each of the tertiary course levels (1.1.L.40) without having their allowable time restricted by previous study.

Allowable time - self-paced courses

Allowable time rules for self-paced tertiary courses are the same as those for other courses.

Honours study

Students who are intending to undertake Honours study after their initial degree may have an additional year of allowable time added and are payable over the long vacation period as an intending full-time student.

Students with disabilities

Different rules for allowable time apply to students with disabilities.

Act reference: SSAct section 569H(3) Allowable study time - full-time students and 66% concessional study-load students, section 569H(4) Allowable study time - 25% concessional study-load students, section 569H(5) Time spent by person studying part-time, section 569H(7) Matters to be disregarded in determining whether someone has exceeded the allowable study time

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.3.4.40 Austudy & Students with Disabilities

Last reviewed: 21 September 2015