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. Austudy & impact of previous study


This topic discusses the following issues relating to Austudy and the impact of previous tertiary study:

  • allowable time for previous study, part-time study, combined courses, Honours and Masters qualifying study, and approved Masters courses, and
  • exceptions to the allowable time rules.

The impact of previous study for students with a disability is described in another topic.

Policy reference: SS Guide Austudy & students with disabilities

Allowable time - previous study

Previous tertiary study undertaken at the SAME level is taken into account in measuring allowable time, unless an exception applies. Exception rules are discussed further on in this topic.

ONLY the normal minimum duration (1.1.M.140) of a completed course is taken into account, whether or not the student actually studied for longer than that.

Where a student has been given credit for study at a different level, or for another reason (e.g. in recognition of prior learning or experience) and has completed the course in less than the minimum time, only the lesser time will be counted.

Students are considered to have completed 100% of the study-load for a semester or year, if they:

  • studied at least 75% of the normal amount of full-time study for a semester or year (1.1.F.230), or
  • qualified for a 66% concessional study-load (1.1.C.290).

Allowable time - measuring part-time study

Previous part-time tertiary studies (1.1.P.100), at the same level, are taken into account on a pro-rata basis.

Allowable time - combined courses

The time limit for the current tertiary course is calculated on the basis of a COMBINED course if a student:

  • completes a first course and starts a second course, AND
  • the institution at which they are studying offers an approved course combining the 2 courses.

Masters qualifying study

Ordinarily a student can only receive assistance for EITHER an Honours OR a Masters qualifying year, not both. However, a student could obtain assistance for a Masters qualifying year after completing an Honours year, by using any remaining period of the allowable time.

Honours study

For information on Honours study for Austudy recipients, see

Exceptions - illness or circumstances beyond control

The following periods of study can be disregarded in assessing whether a recipient has exceeded the allowable time for tertiary study at a particular level.

  • A failed year or part of a year of study, if the failure was because the recipient was ill or because of other circumstances beyond their control.
  • Time spent studying in a course that has been PERMANENTLY discontinued because of circumstances beyond the recipient's control.
  • Example: Circumstances beyond the recipient's control include

    • illness or traumatic personal circumstances
    • the institution ceased to offer the course before the student completed their study, and
    • the recipient was unable to continue in the course because of course quotas.
  • Time spent studying in a course that has been completed but which, because of illness, the recipient CANNOT use in any of the trades or professions to which the course is appropriate.
  • Example: A student completes a Bachelor of Nursing and then suffers a back injury which prevents them practising as a nurse.

Exceptions - no approval or qualification for support

The following periods of study can be disregarded in assessing whether a recipient has exceeded the allowable time for tertiary study at a particular level. Time spent undertaking a course:

  • which was NOT approved for the relevant income support scheme (see example), or
  • during which the person did NOT qualify for Austudy or Tertiary Education Allowance Scheme (TEAS) because of the application of the rules of academic progress.
  • Example: Courses not approved for TEAS between 1973 and 1986, the AUSTUDY scheme between 1986 and 1998, or Austudy since 1998.

Exceptions - study MORE THAN 10 years ago

Incomplete studies undertaken more than 10 years before the student enrolled in their most recent course are disregarded when calculating previous study time.

Completed study can be disregarded when calculating previous study time, but only if the course was completed more than 10 years ago. Studies undertaken more than 10 years ago that are part of a course completed within the last 10 years are not to be disregarded.

Example: Amelia has undertaken the following study:

  • 2006 - Bachelor of Economics (first year)
  • 2007 - Bachelor of Economics (second year)
  • 2008 - Bachelor of Economics (third year - degree completed)
  • 2009 to 2016 - Did not undertake study.
  • 2017 - Bachelor of Science

The Bachelor of Science is a 3 year degree and comprises semester based subjects (2 semesters per year). The maximum allowable time for this degree is 3 years and one semester.

Amelia had completed equivalent level study within the last 10 years (Bachelor of Economics in 2006 to 2008) and even though commenced more than 10 years ago, all of the study (i.e. 3 years) is taken into account at the commencement of the Bachelor Science degree.

Amelia's allowable time for her Bachelor of Science degree is one semester. Amelia's Austudy remains payable until the first day of semester 1 in 2018 as this is the date when she would have exceeded her allowable time. The determination regarding her allowable time for her Bachelor of Science course is based on the day of enrolment in this course. Further allowable time assessments regarding this course cannot be made at a later date.

Exceptions - other reasons

The following periods of study can be disregarded in assessing whether a recipient has exceeded the allowable time for tertiary study at a particular level. Time spent studying in a:

  • course which is a NORMAL prerequisite for the course in which they are enrolled or intend to enrol
  • VET or TAFE courses, whether the course was completed or not, if the normal length of the course is one year or less
  • course at a foreign institution, or
  • subject from which the student withdrew, if the institution did NOT record the withdrawal from the subject as a failure.

Act reference: SSAct section 569H Progress rules-tertiary students

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