The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. TheĀ information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. Study & training


Social security law precludes full-time students from qualifying for JSP, unless they undertake a course of full-time education or training in accordance with a compulsory term of a Job Plan. The intention of this is primarily to allow job seekers who are unlikely to find work with their existing skills to complete courses with a vocational focus that will enhance their immediate employability.

Participation in a full-time course for JSP & YA (other) recipients - general rule

Approved study for the purposes of meeting a person's mutual obligation requirements must meet certain criteria. Generally, approved study should be less than 12 months in duration and:

  • completing the course is likely to lead to an employment outcome for the job seeker, OR
  • there is little chance of the job seeker finding employment with their existing skills, OR
  • the course will lead to qualifications in an identified area of skills shortage, OR
  • is in a course in areas of high labour demand.

For most JSP and YA (other) recipients (except for those in Workforce Australia Online), participation in a full-time education or training course can generally be approved by their provider.

Workforce Australia Online participants are responsible for recording and reporting their own enrolment and attendance in a course on their homepage. For these job seekers, study is limited to eligible courses under 12 months in duration, listed on and either:

  • a JobTrainer funded course, or
  • a course subsidised by a state or territory government.

Full-time academic courses cannot be approved for a JSP recipient just because they have exhausted their allowable time/reasonable time on a student payment. However, full-time academic study can be approved under the above conditions, for example, where a person has so far been unsuccessful in their job search and has only a semester to complete in order to obtain a degree that would greatly improve their employment prospects.

Full-time Masters or Doctorate study cannot be undertaken as part of mutual obligation requirements except for people transferring from PP and for single principal carers who have been granted PES for a course by Centrelink - see below.

If a job seeker is undertaking an approved short course as part of their mutual obligation requirements, they must generally still look for work, and attend appointments with their provider (if applicable), as long as this does not conflict with the scheduled time of the course (the exception to this is detailed below). Approved study may contribute towards a points target for those who have a points requirement. A job seeker's job search requirement should be adjusted to a level that will not interfere with their ability to undertake their approved study/training.

Where studying a course in an area of high labour demand, and the course would likely improve job seekers' employability, job seekers may initially restrict their job search to that area. For example, job seekers studying an aged care-related qualification should be allowed to initially restrict their job search to that field. However, providers and the digital services contact centre both have discretion to require job seekers to diversify their job search - particularly where previous job search in that area has been unsuccessful, or there is little immediate likelihood of finding work in the area studied.

Participation in approved courses for Workforce Australia job seekers

Workforce Australia job seekers who combine work and study/training in high labour demand areas for at least 70 hours per fortnight are not required to look for additional work or participate in other activities. However, they should remain connected to their provider (if applicable), and may be referred to suitable work opportunities that do not conflict with their study or work.

Workforce Australia Services (provider managed) job seekers can also satisfy their points requirement (3.11.4) if they participate full-time in approved study. This means they will have no minimum job search or other points requirement. Providers are able to assist job seekers identify courses which will be beneficial for them, and report and record their enrolment and attendance.

Job seekers in Workforce Australia Online may also be able to satisfy their points target if they are undertaking full-time study in an eligible course. Online participants should contact the Digital Services Contact Centre to have their points requirement adjusted if required.

Participation in a full-time course for JSP & YA (other) recipients - principal carer parents & job seeker with a partial capacity to work

Principal carer parents (1.1.P.412) and job seekers with an assessed partial capacity to work (1.1.P.65) who are in receipt of JSP or YA (other) can fully meet their requirements through approved study, or a combination of approved study and paid and/or voluntary work, of at least 30 hours per fortnight. This means that they are not required to actively seek work or undertake any other activities. For further information see 3.11.6.

YA recipients

Young people under 25 years of age, studying full-time approved courses should generally be assessed for YA (student). Recipients of YA (other) who are under the age of 22 years and have year 12 or an equivalent (i.e. Certificate III or higher) qualification should be encouraged to remain in some form of part-time study or training until they have sufficient skills or qualifications to obtain sustainable employment. The delegate may consider an activity of part-time study in combination with other activities, including job search or part-time work, bearing in mind the job seeker's long-term as well as short-term needs.

YA job seekers who seek to undertake a full-time short course as an approved activity may do so when:

  • they enrol in a full-time vocational short course of less than 12 months which would improve their short term employment prospects, or
  • if they have exceeded the allowable time for their course under YA (student) but still have less than 12 months of study remaining to complete their course.

Job seekers transferring to JSP or YA (other) from PP

If a principal carer (whether partnered or single) is undertaking full-time or part-time study as a PP recipient and then transfers to JSP or YA (other), then they can continue to complete their course of study even if the remainder of the course is longer than 12 months in duration. In addition, they will be taken as meeting all their mutual obligation requirements while completing their course as long as they continue studying in the same course for at least 30 hours per fortnight (including contact and non-contact hours).

Study for single principal carer JSP or YA (other) recipients where PES is granted

Single principal carers in receipt of JSP or YA (other) may undertake any course for which they are granted PES by Services Australia, including academic courses and courses longer than 12 months, and have this study count toward meeting their mutual obligation requirements. Where an approved course for which PES is granted is being undertaken full-time or for at least 30 hours per fortnight, this will fully meet their requirements, and the single principal carer will not be required to undertake additional activities.

Single principal carer JSP recipients undertaking approved part-time study of less than 30 hours per fortnight for which PES is granted, will be able to use this study toward meeting their mutual obligation requirements. However, they must remain connected to employment services, and must be willing to look for and accept suitable paid work. Any additional activities a principal carer is undertaking in order to meet their requirements must not conflict with the principal carer's study.

Participation in a full-time short course for JSP & YA (other) recipients prior to entering employment services

Services Australia can approve participation in a full-time course for job seekers prior to entering employment services if the job seeker has been identified as requiring training under the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) or Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP).

Services Australia can also approve participation in a full-time course for any job seeker prior to entering employment services or another relevant provider's program if:

  • the job seeker has an offer of employment, confirmed by a letter from the potential employer, contingent upon their completing the course
  • the course has a clear vocational application, and
  • the job seeker is prepared to meet any additional expenses involved.

Approved part-time study or training (included as a compulsory term in Job Plan)

Where participation in part-time education or training will enhance the job seeker's employability, the part-time activity should be included as a compulsory item in the job seeker's Job Plan and other requirements can be reduced if necessary. These job seekers will only be required to accept suitable work which fits around the timing of their study.

Non-approved study or training

Job seekers can undertake part-time education or training under their own initiative at any time, but if the course is not approved study, they must continue to meet all of their mutual obligation requirements.

Those wishing to undertake full time study, other than as part of their mutual obligations under the conditions outlined above, should test their eligibility for student payments through Services Australia. Full time students are generally ineligible for JSP unless the study is undertaken as part of their mutual obligations.

Accepting suitable work while studying

A job seeker with full-time mutual obligation requirements who is undertaking either full-time or part-time education or training as a compulsory item in their Job Plan can only be required to accept an offer of suitable employment if the hours of employment would fit around the timing of their study.

People with part-time mutual obligation requirements (e.g. principal carers and people with a partial capacity to work) are not required to accept any suitable work if they are fully meeting their requirements through their participation in approved education or training.

Requirement to attend appointments with an employment services provider and/or Services Australia while studying

Generally, job seekers undertaking education or training still must attend appointments with their employment services provider or Services Australia (if applicable and required to do so). However, appointments should be scheduled for times that do not conflict with the job seeker's study timetable.

Note: Principal carer parents and people with a partial capacity to work who are fully meeting their mutual obligation requirements are not required to attend provider appointments.

Act reference: SSAct section 613 Full-time students (JSP)

SS(Admin)Act section 40F Employment pathway plan matters

Study for SpB recipients

SpB is intended to be a short-term income support payment for people who do not qualify for any other type of SSAct payment and have no other means of support. While SpB is not intended as a payment for students, SpB recipients with full-time mutual obligation requirements may undertake approved part-time or full-time study provided they simultaneously undertake job search and other relevant obligations (if required).

For the purposes of SpB, part-time study is generally defined as less than 20 hours study a week (including contact and non-contact hours). However, if the institution through which the study is undertaken classifies the study as full-time, it should be considered full-time, regardless of the hours involved.

SpB recipients with mutual obligation requirements may undertake full-time study including a full-time course of vocational training if course is less than 12 months (2 semesters) in duration, and meets the same approved study criteria for JSP and YA (other) recipients (above).

Full-time tertiary studies such as bachelor degrees and above are generally not considered appropriate to fulfil mutual obligation requirements because they are not required for a person to undertake suitable work. In the limited circumstances where SpB recipients are permitted to undertake full-time tertiary studies, the intention is to allow them to gain the knowledge and/or skills that will assist them to undertake work in the future. As such, approval can be given if the SpB recipient has been unsuccessful in gaining employment and only has a semester (or 6 months full-time equivalent) remaining to complete the degree and the degree would greatly improve their employment prospects.

SpB recipients under 18 years of age may undertake full-time secondary study of more than 12 months duration. A recipient who turns 18 years while undertaking secondary school may complete that year on a full-time basis. Under no other circumstances can full-time study of more than 12 months duration be approved for SpB recipients.

Act reference: SSAct section 736 Secretary may require certain persons ā€¦, section 737 Full-time students

Last reviewed: