OS-HELP

OS-HELP funding is an Australian Government loan scheme, funded through the Study Assist program, to assist eligible Australian students, enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place, who wish to undertake an overseas experience as part of their current UWA degree.

More details can be found on Study Assist.

How much can I borrow?

The amount you may apply to borrow is indexed annually by the Australian Government on 1 January.

In 2020, the maximum amount is:

  • $6,913 (if you will not be studying in Asia); or
  • $8,295 (if you will be studying in Asia); and
  • an additional $1,104 if you will be undertaking an Asian language in preparation for your Asian overseas experience

As part of your OS-HELP application, you can nominate the amount you wish to borrow, but it cannot exceed the above detailed maximum for your program destination.

Maximums increase each year. You can apply for up to the maximum for the year in which you are applying, not the year in which you will travel. You must use the forms for the year you are applying in, as they vary each year.

The total amount of OS-HELP assistance approved for each application is dependent on the total OS-HELP funding made available to UWA. In the event of limited availability of funds, the selection basis for the provision of OS-HELP loans will be based on merit.

Eligibility

OS-HELP eligibility requirements are determined under the Higher Education Act (2003). In addition, UWA can determine its own internal additional criteria in accordance with the guidelines. To be selected to receive an OS-HELP loan, you need to meet the eligibility requirements determined by the Australian Government and UWA.

Australian Government requirements

To be eligible for OS-HELP assistance for overseas study in relation to a six-month period, you must:

  • be an Australian citizen, permanent humanitarian visa holder, or a New Zealand Special Category Visa holder who meets the long-term residency requirements
  • be enrolled as a Commonwealth supported student at UWA and have completed at least 48 course credit points in the current Commonwealth supported degree before receiving the loan 
  • have at least one unit remaining on your UWA degree upon return from overseas experience
  • be studying full-time overseas and have the overseas study count towards the current Australian course requirements
  • have not received more than one previous OS-HELP loan at any institution
  • not have received an OS-HELP loan for the same six-month period
  • be able to provide an Australian Tax File Number (TFN) or a Certificate of Application for a TFN 
  • be selected by UWA to receive an OS-HELP loan

To be eligible for a supplementary Asian language study loan, you must:

  • be selected for OS-HELP assistance for overseas study in Asia for the same six-month period
  • have applied to and be selected to receive a supplementary amount for Asian language study
  • be undertaking Asian language study to prepare you for your overseas study in Asia
  • complete the Asian language study before the commencement of the overseas study
  • not be undertaking Asian language study as part of a course leading to a higher education award for which you are in a Commonwealth supported place or receiving FEE-HELP

If applying for an increased loan amount for study in Asia, a student will be considered to be undertaking overseas study in Asia if they are undertaking study in at least one of the following countries only: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Timor-Leste, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

UWA requirements

Eligible students may receive up to two OS-HELP loans in their lifetime; however, the second loan cannot be for an overseas period which commences less than six months and one day after the first.

There is no loan fee applied to OS-HELP loans and the amount you borrow will be added to your HECS liability.

If you are going overseas for two consecutive semesters, you may apply for two loans and need to complete two Debt Confirmation Forms. However, the second loan will not be considered until you have successfully completed your first semester of overseas study. Send us an email via askUWA with your academic transcript from your host institution, or a letter, confirming you have successfully completed the first semester and confirmation you will be undertaking a further semester of studies overseas.

To be eligible for an OS-HELP assistance, you need to meet the following UWA criteria:

  • Have already completed at least 48 credit points in Australia as a Commonwealth supported student that counts towards your current UWA course (if undertaking an honours component of an undergraduate course, the entire undergraduate course may be considered for the purposes of assessing eligibility for OS-HELP).
  • Be an enrolled UWA Commonwealth supported student approved to undertake an overseas experience, which will count towards your current UWA degree. An overseas experience includes exchange programs, professional placements, fieldwork programs, overseas units and other overseas short-term programs and study tours.
  • Be in good standing with no encumbrances at UWA.

While we endeavour to approve all eligible applications, if you miss the closing date or all loans have been exhausted, we may not be able to approve your application. We recommend applying early to avoid disappointment as the entire process can take up to eight weeks.

Note: loans will need to be approved and paid before your return to Australia.

Calculating Equivalent Full Time Study Load (EFTSL)

If your overseas studies will carry credit towards your UWA course, it must be the equivalent of a full-time study load (or at least 0.75 EFTSL). This means your overseas study period may be eligible if the credit you expect to receive is greater than or equal to (≥) or at least 75 per cent of the sum of the actual duration of study or practical experience (in weeks), divided by (÷) the typical duration of an academic semester (in weeks), multiplied by (×) the credit that a full-time student would expect to receive in a standard academic semester (see diagram below).

So, if you will study or attend a placement overseas for six weeks and you will receive 12 credit points towards your UWA degree for that overseas experience, you may be eligible, since 12 points is greater than the sum of 6 ÷ 13 x 24. These principles do not apply to overseas placements and internships. If you are unsure, submit an enquiry through askUWA.

Credit that a student can expect to receive for the overseas study period    Actual duration of overseas study (in weeks) divided by  x Minimum credit that a full-time student would receive in a standard academic semester (currently 24 points) 
 Typical duration of a standard academic semester (13 weeks)

 means greater than or equal to, and x means multiply

If you’re pursuing short-term and independent overseas study, you can apply for OS-HELP provided the overseas study will count towards your UWA degree and you meet all other OS-HELP eligibility criteria.

If you’ll undertake an overseas study period of a lesser duration than one semester of full-time study, you may still be eligible for an OS-HELP loan if the overseas study is a requirement of your current UWA course and is comparable to an EFTSL over the same period, but there may be exceptions. This means if you study overseas on a short course of only six weeks which carries at least 12 credit points, provided you meet all other eligibility criteria, you will still be eligible for an OS-HELP loan. A completed OS-HELP Faculty Approval form (PDF) is required for any overseas study other than an exchange through the Global Learning Office.

Students undertaking an overseas elective placement may apply for OS-HELP if the placement is a requirement of, or will count towards, the final outcome of your UWA degree. An OS-HELP Faculty Approval form will be required with your application for assistance.

You should be aware that the University can only approve a certain number of loans each year based on the total number of loans the Department of Education and Training allocates. Loans are approved on the basis of priority, including current course of study, type, duration and location of placement or overseas study. Students on an official exchange through the Global Learning Office will be given priority for loans.

Application process

Download the application form for OS-HELP in PDF format. You will be required to complete and submit a hard copy OS-HELP Debt Confirmation form which is available from the Current Students counter at Student Central or can be mailed to you on request through askUWA. This form must be completed in ballpoint pen using block letters. We require you to return the signed original Debt Confirmation form, and we do not accept scanned copies of the original signed Debt Confirmation form.

If applying for two consecutive loans, you will need to complete two forms and submit them with your application as you will be overseas when we review your second loan. If you will study overseas independently (i.e. not through a formal exchange program or UWA unit) or are a medicine student undertaking an overseas elective, you are also required to have an OS-HELP Faculty Approval form signed off by your faculty.

Applications for a second loan for students already overseas will not be processed where there is less than five weeks of study remaining at the overseas institution.

  • Applications must be completed in full and signed prior to lodgement (applications that are not signed will not be processed).
  • A copy of page one of your bank statement must be provided to verify the bank details entered on your application are correct.
  • If your OS-HELP loan is approved, you will be asked to submit an OS-HELP Debt Confirmation form before any amount can be paid into your bank account. The form must be completed in ballpoint pen using block letters.

Host institution requirements

  • Applications can be submitted without proof of acceptance from the host university or placement provider; however, if you are eligible we can simply approve your loan 'in principle' but hold payment until you provide us with a copy of your acceptance from the host.
  • Official email confirmation is also acceptable providing it is addressed to you and is not from an unofficial email account, such as Hotmail, Gmail etc. Where you have not yet received your confirmed offer from the overseas provider, we will accept your application but if you are eligible, we can only approve any loan in principle until you can provide us with a copy of your overseas offer.
  • Loans will not be approved for payment until we receive all of the required evidence.

How to apply

Your completed OS-HELP application form and essential documents should be submitted to before the appropriate closing date in person at Student Central or by mail:

Coursework Scholarships and Prizes

Student Experience M356

Student Central

University of Western Australia

35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009

You are welcome to scan and email electronic documents on askUWA; however, you may not email scanned copies of your completed Debt Confirmation form. Do not submit original copies of bank statements and offer letters as we are unable to return the originals to you should you require them for other purposes.

Application closing dates

Applications are processed as we receive them, therefore you may apply for an OS-HELP loan at any time up to the closing dates. Loans will not be issued more than six months before your overseas period commences.

Applications for a loan covering an overseas experience commencing in Semester 2 of the current year will close 31 May. Applications for Semester 1 close 31 October. Applications received up to and including these dates will usually be processed within eight weeks of receipt (there are exceptions).

Where available loans remain after 31 October, an extension for applications may be granted. Note that while you can submit an application at any time during the academic year, your application may not be processed for approval until after the closing date for that semester.

Assessment and selection criteria

The assessment and selection criteria for the provision of OS-HELP loans will be based on merit. Students will be assessed for their eligibility for OS-HELP assistance not more than five months in advance of the commencement of their overseas study.

OS-HELP is available for a six-month period. Commencement of the six-month period is nominated on the Debt Confirmation form. It does not necessarily have to be the first day that a student begins their overseas study or placement, but the start and end of the overseas period must fall within this six-month period.

The OS-HELP loan is provided for the six-month period regardless of the actual duration of the study. Second loans for students already overseas will not be processed where there are fewer than five weeks of study remaining at the overseas institution.

Once a loan is approved, funds will be transferred directly into the student’s nominated bank account. This can take up to six weeks from the date of approval.

While we endeavour to approve loans before the anticipated overseas departure, we cannot guarantee this. Applicants are recommended to ensure temporary or alternative financial arrangements are made if the approved loan funding is not paid prior to departure.

Disclosure of personal information and false or misleading information

The personal information collected on your OS-HELP application form is collected for the purpose of determining your eligibility for an OS-HELP loan. If you provide false or misleading information in your application for OS-HELP, we may be required to disclose information contained in your application to the Department of Education and Training. We may also be required to disclose your personal information as otherwise authorised or required by law.

Repayments

An OS-HELP debt will be incurred on all approved loans even if the student does not commence or complete their overseas experience for any reason. An OS-HELP debt cannot be remitted under any circumstances. A student’s OS-HELP debt is incurred as part of their accumulated HELP debt recorded by the Australian Taxation Office. Students repay their accumulated HELP debt through the taxation system once their income is above the minimum threshold for compulsory repayments or by voluntary repayments directly to the ATO.

Appeals

If an OS-HELP application is declined, students have the right to appeal in writing to the Manager, Coursework, Scholarships and Prizes. The appeal must be submitted in writing and state precisely the grounds on which it is made. It must be lodged with the Manager, Coursework, Scholarships and Prizes, no later than seven working days after receipt of the decision.