Return of International Students

Frequently Asked Questions

Studying in 2023

When do I have to be back in Sydney?

Come back as soon as you can. We miss you.  

If you are an international student on a student visa you will need to be here from the start of Term 2 2023 with classes commencing on 29 May 2023.  
If you are not on a student visa, you will need to be on campus for classes where the delivery mode is “in-person”.  

The 2023 Timetable is available here and tells you whether the course will be delivered:

  • in-person only
  • multi-modal (offering both online and face-to-face options), or
  • fully online.

However, please be aware that some options may be limited, and your final timetable will be confirmed during class registration on April 3, 2023. 

What if I can still register for online classes in T2, do I need to come back?

If you are an international student on a student visa, from Term 2 2023 you must be enrolled in at least 1 in-person class per term and cannot take more than one third of your courses online.

A course enrolment will be considered in-person if you have registered for at least one in-person class. Conversely, any course will be considered online if you haven't registered for at least 1 in-person class. Hybrid classes are considered to be online classes.

These are requirements to maintain your student visa. If your program is offering online options, you may enrol and stay offshore, but you may no longer be eligible for a student visa and this could limit your access to things like post-study work rights. 

If you are a domestic student and your program is offering online courses you may register for these. Please note they may be limited in capacity.

What does 'two thirds of my degree face-to-face' mean? Does it include the online courses I took while offshore?

Courses you took in T1 2020 up to and including T1 2023 will not be counted as either face-to-face or online for compliance purposes. From Term 2 2023, you must ensure two thirds of all your future courses are studied in person. You will be contacted by UNSW’s International Compliance Team if you are in danger of being non-compliant with your visa requirements.  

I don’t have many classes to complete for my degree. Can I complete my study from overseas?

Some programs will not offer online options from T2 2023. If you do not return by then you may not be able to complete your degree. Some programs may offer online options which will be published in the Timetable. If you do enrol in fully online options, this may impact your visa and options for post-study work in Australia.

How will I know if my program will offer online options for me?

The 2023 Timetable will indicate the mode of delivery for your courses. 

If you are an international student on a student visa you should plan to be in Sydney by the start of Term 2. You will not be able to confirm your specific classes and personal timetable for Term 2 until class registration for Term 2 is completed in March 2023.  

Where can I find short term accommodation?

Information on finding both short and long term accommodation can be found here. Apply early to secure your place. 

What happens if I don’t get my visa in time?

Please apply early for your visa to make sure you have the best possible chance to get your visa in time. There should be plenty of time to get your visa for Term 2 if you apply now. If you do not get your visa in time, you will need to take program leave and should contact The Nucleus: Student Hub as early as possible. If your program offers online options, you may be able to continue some study overseas, however this online study from Term 2 may have implications for your visa and any post study work rights you may be eligible for.  

As an international student can I start my study offshore?

There may be some transition arrangements in T1 2023 but from Term 2 2023 international students on a student visa, studying in face-to-face degrees, will need to come to Sydney to start their degree in order to be compliant with the ESOS Act and National Code.  

What does compliance with the ESOS Act mean?

Under the ESOS Act, international students who hold student visas can complete no more than one third of their degree online and must study at least one course face-to-face each term. The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) relaxed these requirements throughout 2020, 2021 and 2022 in recognition of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. TEQSA has now advised that all students and providers must be once again compliant with ESOS requirements by 30 June 2023. 

What is considered face-to-face for an international student?

A student will be considered as enrolled in a course that is face-to-face (in-person) if they have registered in at least one class that is listed as either in-person or research. For example, a student who registered in an online lecture and in-person tutorial will be considered as completing the course in-person. 

Got questions about returning to campus? Submit your question here.

Returning to Australia

Am I allowed to travel to Australia?

Yes. The rules around entering and leaving Australia have changed. Full details of eligibility and travel requirements can be found here.

Please ensure you are monitoring the Australian Government website for the latest updates on travel and visa restrictions before you arrange your travel.

What is a Digital Passenger Declaration?

The Digital Passenger Declaration replaces the Australian Travel Declaration.

The rules have changed, please see the Department of Home Affairs website for the rules around entering and leaving Australia (

Do I need to check my passport before I travel?

As is the case with all international travel, students should ensure their passport is ready to be accepted by airlines and immigration authorities throughout their journey. Students should ensure their passports are not damaged, altered or contain novelty stamps.

Passports should only have stamps from official authorities, e.g. immigration authorities. Students should ensure:

  • There are no tears or cuts in the pages, especially the photo page.
  • Everything on the photo page is legible and clear.
  • There are no marks across your photo or in the Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) on the photo page.
  • No pages have been removed.
  • There is no alteration or tampering.

For more information on passport care, please visit the Australian Government website. 

Do I have to be vaccinated?

The rules have changed, please see the Department of Home Affairs website for the rules around entering and leaving Australia (

How do I prove I am vaccinated?

The rules have changed, please see the Department of Home Affairs website for the rules around vaccination status.

Entering and leaving Australia (

Do I need to take a COVID test prior to arrival or once arrived in Australia?

Please refer to the flight requirements of your home country to see if a COVID-19 test is required prior to boarding your flight to Australia.  

You do not need to take a COVID-19 test after arriving in Australia. See COVID-19 information for international arrivals | NSW Government website for up to date information.  

Do I have to quarantine when I arrive in Australia?

The NSW Government has announced that international travellers no longer need to quarantine once arrived in Australia. COVID-19 information for international arrivals | NSW Government.

What are my accommodation options in Australia?

Students are encouraged to only organise short-term or on-campus accommodation prior to their arrival in Australia. Long term private rental accommodation should be arranged once you arrive in Australia so that you can ensure its suitability.

More information on both on-campus and off-campus accommodation options and resources can be found here.

If you are looking for accommodation options for 2023 visit UNSW Villages here.

Does UNSW offer a free airport transfer?

Yes, UNSW's free airport pickup service is available to all commencing and returning international students. Pickup is available at both International and Domestic terminals and you can be dropped off at a range of locations.

For more information on the service and to book click here.

Where can I find a Rapid Antigen Test in Australia?

Rapid Antigen Tests are currently difficult to find in Australia, you can check up to date availability here.

You can also check the [email protected].

Students can bring Rapid Antigen Tests from overseas, but they must be TGA approved.

Do I need to download the Service NSW App?

Yes, the Service NSW app will allow you to store your international vaccination certificate and record if you have returned a positive COVID Rapid Antigen Test.

Information on how to download the Service NSW App is available here.

If you are in the ACT, you no longer need to use the Check-In CBR app.

Do I need to get a COVID-19 booster vaccination?

COVID-19 booster doses are not mandatory; however they are recommended to maintain immunity against COVID-19.

You are eligible for a COVID-19 booster dose if you:

  • are 18 years and older, and
  • had the second dose of your primary dose course of COVID-19 vaccination at least 4 months ago.

You can get your booster at the UNSW Health Service.

Will I have to pay for a COVID-19 booster vaccination?

The COVID-19 vaccination is free for all Australian residents, including international students currently in Australia. 

If you receive your vaccination at the UNSW Health Service and you have health insurance with Medibank there will be no charge. 

If you don't have OSHC with Medibank you can still get a free vaccination but you will need to go to your nearest GP respiratory clinic for your vaccine. You can find out where this is here. Alternatively, please contact your health insurance provider for more information.

What do I do if I get COVID-19 in Australia?

If you return a positive COVID-19 PCR or RAT result you should follow the State rules regarding isolation and testing. For NSW this is detailed here.

If you have a positive PCR test NSW Health will automatically be advised.

If you have a positive Rapid Antigen Test you must notify NSW Health via the Service NSW app. Go to COVID-19 Resources > Register a positive test result.

If you return a positive PCR or RAT result you should also advise the University as soon as possible via the COVID notification form here. This will allow the University to assist you with next steps and also to manage any contacts that may have occurred on campus or in accommodation.

Will my medical expenses be covered if I get COVID-19?

Yes, you will be asked for the details of your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) if you attend a doctor, medical centre or hospital. More information on OSHC is available here.

UNSW’s preferred OSHC provider is Medibank.

Who can I talk to if I am struggling with my health and wellbeing?

The global pandemic has had an undeniable impact on the wellbeing of our student community. 

UNSW is offering a range of support services to assist you as you continue to study online and begin to return to campus where possible:

Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm:

If you need after hours support: 

  • UNSW Psychology and Wellness (9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday): 02 9385 5418.

  • Out of hours? Call UNSW After Hours Mental Health Support Line (5pm-9am and 24 hours on weekends): 02 9385 5418.

  • Text a counsellor after hours (5pm-9am and 24 hours on weekends) on 0485 826 595.

  • 24/7 Medibank counselling available from your home country on +61 (2) 8905-0307.

  • Lifeline - phone 13 11 14 for crisis support and suicide prevention.

If you are looking for mental health online resources: 

  • headspace - information for young people about coping with stress related to COVID-19

  • UNSW Mindhub has some great mental health and wellbeing tips an tricks 

  • Arc has some great events and activities to help you connect with other students.

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