What is considered full-time study and what’s part-time?

Wondering whether you have the time to commit to full-time study, or whether part-time study is for you? Here’s what each study load entails.

So, you’ve decided studying is the next step to get where you’re going. Before you take the leap, it’s best to consider whether full-time study or part-time study is going to suit your lifestyle. 

How many hours of study per week for uni?

It’s normal to feel a little anxious while wondering how many hours you’ll slave away behind a desk. 

The good news? When you study online through Open Universities Australia, you can choose how many hours you commit to study per week by taking on as many or as few subjects as you’d like.

When trying to factor in how many hours you’ll actually spend hitting the books, the best place to start is by understanding what a regular full-time study load is and what a part time load is. From there you can take stock and consider how this may factor into your current work and home life commitments.   

So, how many hours of study per week is full-time?

The full-time study load of each subject is measured as equivalent full-time study load (EFTSL). This measure is defined and recognised by Services Australia (Centrelink).

To be considered full-time while studying through Open Universities Australia, you need to be enrolled in subjects that have a combined EFTSL of at least 0.250. This is normally two subjects, requiring 20–24 hours of study per week.

Through Open Universities Australia, a single undergraduate subject generally requires 10-12 hours of study each week.

What’s an undergraduate subject?

An undergraduate subject is a unit of study designed to be taken by students who have not completed university study before or have not studied at university level in that particular topic.

Of course, like anything in life, this estimation is dependent on a number of factors. The hours you study may be more or less according to the topic you’re tackling and the university you study with. 

What’s a postgraduate subject?

Postgraduate subjects generally require more hours of study—given they're designed for a higher level of experience from students. Postgraduate study is designed for those who have already completed university study before, have studied within the same topic, or have at least five years of work experience in the field of study. 

If you’re studying a postgraduate degree through us, you'll need to check with the Department of Social Services if it’s an approved course for government allowances.

How many hours of study per week is part-time?

Part-time students typically study one subject in a study period, generally requiring 10-12 hours of study each week with an EFTSL of 0.125. 

To be considered part-time while studying through Open Universities Australia, you can be enrolled in subjects that have a combined EFTSL of less than 0.250. 

Factors to consider

When considering whether part-time or full-time study is for you, you may want to think about the areas of life you can shift, and your commitments that are unwavering. 

What are your “shiftable” commitments?

These might include socialising and hobbies. During the course of your university study—whether that be one year or a few—you may choose to lessen your time participating in these to get your studies completed sooner. 

What are your unwavering commitments?

Unwavering commitments include those such as work and children—the parts of your life you’re responsible for rain, hail or shine. 

Even if you are working full-time, many workplaces now allow employees to work where and when it suits them—meaning logging on for lectures and the like may be less of a strain than you’d imagined. 

Remember, you can always chat with your employer about how they can support you in your study endeavours. 

Will you be applying for Services Australia (Centrelink) support payments?

Austudy, ABSTUDY, and Youth Allowance are government payments to help you make ends meet while you study. 

According to Centrelink, “Most people need to study full-time to get Austudy or Youth Allowance as a student.” 

Other services you may be able to access through Centrelink when taking the leap into study include payments for those who live in rural and remote areas, the education entry payment and tertiary access payment.

Centrelink considers Open Universities Australia students to have a full-time study load when studying four subjects (minimum) with a combined EFTSL of 1.0 in any six-month calendar period. That is 1 January to 30 June and 1 July to 31 December in any calendar year. 

Open Universities Australia subjects run in study periods, terms, semesters, and sessions. These, and industry placements, sometimes finish before the end of the six-month calendar period. 

If this does occur, students studying through Open Universities Australia maintain their full-time EFTSL minimum requirement and payments. This means you won’t lose continuity of payments if you are waiting for your next enrolled subject to commence in the upcoming six-month calendar period where subjects overlap. 

Visit Services Australia for the latest information, and if you’re unsure speak with our friendly student advisors.

Test drive one subject first

Many students who enrol in online study through Open Universities Australia choose to take on just one or two subjects to start with. This allows them to feel the impact of online study on their life before assessing whether they have the capacity to take on any more subjects. 

Our Study Planning page has more information on finding the right level of study commitment for you.


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