The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The 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. YA study-load - full-time students in flexible study

Various learning options

The study-load implications for the following flexible study methods are discussed in this topic:

  • self-paced courses
  • competency based training (CBT)
  • OUA studies (formerly Open Learning Australia)
  • OTEN courses, and
  • combinations of open learning and traditional learning.

Self-paced courses

If a student is undertaking a self-paced course, then the following issues need to be determined in consultation with the institution or through accreditation papers:

  • normal accreditation and registration requirements
  • normal course duration for a full-time student, and
  • normal amount of full-time study.

Normal study-load in self-paced courses is the average study-load for a student who completes the course in the normal full-time duration. This would take account of:

  • the normal course duration for a full-time student
  • the number of subjects or units to be completed
  • the normal duration of subjects, modules or units, and
  • whether content components are taken sequentially or concurrently.

Example: The normal full-time duration for a course requires a student to undertake 4 units every 4 months. A student would be considered full-time if they studied 75% of the full-time load, or 3 units every 4 months.

For more information about full-time study for YA, please go to

Act reference: SSAct section 541B Undertaking full-time study

CBT & open learning

Under CBT and open learning arrangements, while students have the flexibility to structure their own study pattern, their activities and progress are usually monitored by the institutions.

Institutions themselves can best determine the study-load a student is undertaking. The primary consideration for YA purposes is that the student is:

  • formally enrolled as a full-time student, AND
  • considered by the institution to be undertaking, on average, a full-time study-load over the relevant period.

Some CBT courses do not have set term/semester dates. In such cases, the institution will need to advise that the student is undertaking, on average, a full-time study-load from a specified date to a specified date.


OUA acts as a broker of distance education in conjunction with universities and TAFEs. Assessment of study load for determining eligibility for payment is consistent with assessment at other education institutions (

OUA TAFE modules

Students may be assessed as a full-time student for YA purposes if:

  • they undertake a minimum number of hours of study per week in a study period required in the state/territory, or
  • their study-load fits any of the other full-time criteria.


To receive YA while studying through OTEN, students must be enrolled in an approved course and be undertaking an equivalent full-time study load (EFTSL). OTEN will generally only enrol students in 1 or 2 units at a time and the units are measured in hours.

OTEN considers students to be full-time if they are doing 16 hours of coursework a week.

Example: If students are enrolled in 1 unit that normally takes 48 hours of coursework to complete, they are expected to finish the unit within 3 weeks of starting it:

  • 48 hours √∑ 16 hours = 3 weeks.

OTEN provides a flexible course model which encourages students to complete courses at their own pace with no penalty for not completing work. However, if students are receiving YA, they should complete their study in the normal time it takes to complete the course. In the example above, students would be expected to have finished their unit within 3 weeks and have started the next unit.

Open learning & conventional study

Students who are enrolled in a single course that combines conventional internal or external studies may also undertake one or more OUA units. In this case the student is assessed as a full-time student if:

  • they meet the normal study-load requirements in either the conventional course or the OUA study, OR
  • the combined workload meets the requirements and the student provides a letter from the academic registrar, or equivalent, confirming that the successful OUA study will be credited towards the student's primary course.

Act reference: SSAct section 541B Undertaking full-time study

Policy reference: SS Guide Approved courses of study for YA

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