A Commonwealth supported place (CSP) is a place in a course of study at a university where the Australian government covers part of the cost of a student's studies. 

The best way of describing how CSPs work through Open Universities Australia (OUA) is by comparing them with other ways of studying online. And unless you've done it before, you're probably not familiar with the ins and outs of online study. So here's a quick run-down of the main ways you can study at undergraduate level through OUA:

Taking open entry units

One way you can study through OUA is by choosing individual units offered by leading Australian universities. You can select units based on what interests you or you can make your choices with a qualification in mind and take units that count towards a full course.

To get into an open entry course, students generally don't need to meet any academic criteria such as secondary school scores, previously completed university units or grade point averages. If you want to defer your fee payment for an open entry course by taking an Australian government loan, you can do so using the scheme known as  FEE-HELP.

Enrolling in a restricted course

Restricted courses have some academic entry requirements that students need to meet before they can progress past a certain point in their studies. As with open entry units, students can defer payment for payment of the unit components of their restricted courses using FEE-HELP.

How are CSPs different?Click to expand

Unlike open entry units (but similar to restricted courses), CSP courses have academic entry requirements. For instance, in most cases if you've completed at least four undergraduate units through OUA you'll be eligible to study a CSP course online. (There are some exceptions and citizenship criteria also apply - see the eligibility section below.)

If you want to study now but pay later, you can defer your fees for a CSP course using the government loan scheme called HECS-HELP, which is a little bit different to FEE-HELP. You can read more about the difference between the two schemes in the CSP benefits section below.


Am I eligible? collapseClick to expand

To be eligible for Commonwealth support, you must be:

  • An Australian citizen residing in Australia for all or part of your studies; OR
  • A New Zealand citizen who will be residing in Australia for the duration of your study; OR
  • The holder of a permanent visa who will be residing in Australia for the duration of your study; AND
  • Able to meet the university course admission criteria (find out what they are by clicking on the courses below)

To learn more about CSP eligibility requirements, as well as the process for applying for HECS-HELP, read the official information booklet on the Study Assist website.

What are the benefits of CSPs?collapseClick to expand

It's often less expensive

All CSP course units are available as open entry units through OUA as well. So, for example, you can study towards a Bachelor of Business with Swinburne University of Technology online as a CSP student or an open entry student.

In many cases, if you compare a compulsory unit in a CSP course with exactly the same unit in an open entry course, you'll notice a difference in fees - usually a lower price for the CSP unit. Over a full course, the saving can add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars, meaning a smaller debt and a shorter time to pay of your loan.

You can 'save up' your FEE-HELP

One of the main differences between FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP is that FEE-HELP has a strict borrowing limit.

What's this got to do with CSPs?

Well, the first thing to keep in mind is that all CSPs offered through OUA are for undergraduate courses.

Second, most postgraduate courses don't offer CSPs (whether you study them online or not), meaning that you can only defer payments using FEE-HELP.

For now you might only be thinking about undergraduate study (a bachelor's degree, for example), but later you might want to go an do postgraduate study. By doing an undergraduate course as a CSP student, you can leave your FEE-HELP quota untouched (borrowing using HECS-HELP instead) and 'save up' for a postgraduate course down the track.

You're on the path to a degree

As a CSP student, you're not only enrolled in a full course, you're officially enrolled as a student at the university that offers it. You're on a clear path towards a degree, while still getting the flexibility of electives and optional units.

This is perfect if you like a bit of structure and don't want to worry about choosing units - many of them will already be chosen for you as compulsory components of the CSP course.

As an open entry student you can work towards (and graduate with) a degree, but you're not technically enrolled in a course. You have lots of choice, but it's up to you to make sure you enrol in the right units for the right qualification.

No registration fee

As a CSP student, you won't get charged the registration fee that applies to students graduating from an open entry course. This fee is different depending on which university you're studying with.

NOTE: Some, but not all, universities will charge an annual or biannual student services and amenities fee to CSP students.

What can I study?collapseClick to expand

OUA offers the following CSP courses:

Curtin University

Griffith University

Macquarie University

Murdoch University

Swinburne University of Technology

University of South Australia

*These courses are all part of OUA Pathways. OUA Pathways recommends the best units to start your studies, even if you're not sure which course you want to do. Each pathway includes four units based on your area of interest, plus the option to study preparatory units for free (PREP03 and PREP04 only).

Once you complete your recommended path you'll be able to choose from a range of courses in your area of interest. Plus, each of the units you complete through OUA Pathways can also be credited towards your chosen course.

**This course is part of OUA Pathways. Upon completion of the Humanities Pathway, Macquarie University still need to approve the application to meet the required academic eligibility.

^This course is part of OUA Pathways. Upon completion of the relevant pathway, students are still required to meet the GPA requirement of the course for CSP academic eligibility.

Application closing datecollapseClick to expand

Find out when applications for a CSP place in the next Study Period close at our Key dates page

The OUA study processClick to expand


Once you've decided to set off on an adventure with OUA, we'll make sure you're ready for the online study experience.

In most cases, at the 'Ready' stage you'll be taking open entry units.

If you know you want to study, but you're not sure where to start, our Pathways program could be just what you're looking for.

We'll get you involved in our online Orientation program, set you up with some preparatory units (if you haven't studied for a while or need to dust off your study skills), give you a chance to meet fellow OUA students online and in person if you'd like to.


Once you're underway, you'll have our full network of free support services at your disposal:

  • Unsure about your enrolment? Get in touch with one of our Student Advisors.
  • Wondering how best to balance study with your work, your family or your social life? Contact a Student Coach.
  • Need some extra help with assignments? Access Smarthinking, the online tutoring support service, available all day, everyday.

There are all sorts of milestones we'll celebrate with you along the way, but the first really big one will be completing four units. Once you've done that, you're at the "Go!" stage.


After four units you'll be right into the swing of online study. Here's where CSP comes in.

If you're working towards a qualification that's available as a CSP course, in most cases, four OUA units is the main entry requirements. Once you've completed four units successfully, you're ready to apply. 

How do I get started?collapseClick to expand

Before you apply

  1. To check if CSP is available for your course, check the Overview tab on the course details page.
  2. Read the eligibility criteria for admission, including the Commonwealth information booklet, Information for Commonwealth supported students and HECS HELP.


Apply for the course by going to the Application process tab on the course details page, and click the 'Apply Online' button (make sure you choose the CSP application from the two options).

You can get to the course details page from the What can I study? section on this page (above).

If you're successful

  1. If your application is approved, you'll be emailed a Letter of Offer, which you can accept from My study centre.
  2. Once you have accepted your offer, you will be emailed a Letter of Admittance, including your provider university Student ID which you will need to complete your Request for Commonwealth support and HECS-HELP form. Please note, this is a different ID number from your existing OUA ID.

Choosing your units

  1. Choose your units from the Course units tab on the course details page, and add them to your Study Cart. Then follow the prompts. 
  2. On the unit enrolment payment page, assign HECS-HELP as your payment method. For administrative purposes, you will need to assign HECS-HELP as your payment method even if you are planning to pay your student contribution amount upfront. If you pay part of your student contribution upfront, you may be eligible for a discount on the amount paid (please note this is subject to change. Please refer to Study Assist for more information).
  3. Once you have chosen your units and assigned your payment method, you can then proceed to complete the Request for Commonwealth support and HECS-HELP form before the Close of Enrolment for your chosen Study Period. You will need your Tax File Number (TFN) to complete the form. 

Finalising your enrolment

  1. Once you have completed the above steps, you will receive an invoice from your course provider. For some universities, this invoice will be available within the university student portal. This will include instructions on how to pay for your student services and amenities fee (SSAF) if applicable. 
  2. If you've chosen to pay for part of your fees upfront, you will need to complete this payment before the Census Date of your Study Period.
  3. Once the Request for Commonwealth support and HECS-HELP form has been lodged, you will be fully enrolled in your units! 
  4. You will then receive a welcome email from your provider, including login details for your student portal, by the first week of your Study Period. Don't forget to check your course provider student portal for any SSAF payment requirements.

If you're not successful

If your application is unsuccessful, contact a Student Advisor on 1300 322 870 to discuss the other study options available to you.