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Student FAQs - Higher Education

A Unique Student Identifier (USI) is your lifelong education number. If you are doing nationally recognised training or studying at a tertiary institution, you need a USI. 

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You should get a USI as soon as possible. If you’re seeking financial assistance for study, you need a USI. 

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Yes, if you intend to graduate in 2023 or beyond, you need a USI to get your degree. 

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Your Tertiary Admission Centre or university will ask for your USI before census date. Keep your USI in a safe place and update your details if they change. 

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As it's your personal education number, you should set up your USI using a personal email address. It should not be a shared or work email address. 

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No. If you did any Vocational Education and Training (VET) after 2015, you will already have a USI. You can find your USI now or call 1300 857 536 for help. 

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You need a USI if you’re applying for commonwealth financial assistance (eg HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP, OS-HELP, SA-HELP).

Check out Study Assist for further information on government assistance for financing tertiary study

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•  USI in higher education
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By 2023, all students will need to have a USI to get their Higher Education Award (degree/qualification/certificate).

If you plan on graduating in 2023 or beyond, you need a USI, regardless of your financial payment choice.

Get one now!  

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The VET transcript only includes nationally recognised Vocational Education and Training (VET) awarded since 2015. It does not include any higher education qualifications. 

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Higher education students need to provide their USIs when the university requests it. This may be at the time of enrolment, but each university has a different process.

Do not use the email option available in the USI Student Portal to send your USI to your university unless you have been requested to do so.

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Students can apply for an exemption from having a USI. However this will impact your study options.

Higher education students who do not have a USI will not be able to apply for Commonwealth financial assistance or a Commonwealth supported place.

Vocational Education and Training (VET) students who do not have a USI will not be able to apply for VET student loans and will not be eligible to obtain an authenticated VET transcript of any training undertaken whilst the exemption is in place.

Students wishing to apply for an exemption must provide reasons for doing so and accept the listed consequences of not having a USI. 

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International Students

If you meet all the criteria below, higher education international students are automatically exempt from needing a USI:

  • you studied with an Australian education or training provider in Australia
  • you did not access Commonwealth financial assistance for your studies
  • you commenced their studies before 1 January 2023
  • you currently are not in Australia and will not return to Australia.
  • international students who completed all of their studies outside of Australia through an Australian education or training provider do not need a USI.

International students who commenced their study in Australia after 1 January 2023 with an Australian education or training provider will need a USI. They can only create a USI when they are in Australia using their passport and Australian Visa. 

An international student who commenced study in Australia after 1 January 2023 but objects to getting a USI can request an exemption. However, this will mean that they cannot apply for a Commonwealth supported place or Commonwealth financial assistance.

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A USI is not a mandatory requirement at enrolment for international students. International students can only create a USI when they are in Australia using their passport and Australian Visa.

Until they are in Australia, international students cannot be required as a condition of enrolment to provide a USI or be advised to seek an exemption to a USI.

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You cannot retrospectively apply a USI to a person. Current identity documents are required at the time a USI is created. 

We use the Document Verification Service (DVS) to verify all documents used to create a USI. An Australian Visa would only be valid whilst the person is in Australia. 

If the person has left Australia, the Visa would no longer be current and would not be accepted as a valid form of documentation by the DVS to allow for the creation of a USI.

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No. The Australian Visa is only valid for the time the student is in Australia. 
An international student can only create a USI when in Australia, using their international passport and Australian Visa as a form of identity – both documents which are verified through the Document Verification System (DVS). 
The Australian Visa will be validated once the person enters the country and is cleared by Australian customs. 
The DVS is used to verify identity documents for the creation of a USI. Once the student leaves Australia, their Visa document is no longer valid and cannot be verified through the DVS. 

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An international student can only create a USI if they are in Australia. This is because they need to use their international passport and Australian Visa (granted to students travelling to Australia to study) as proof of identity to create a USI.

The Visa will only validate when they enter the country and go through customs. The Australian Visa will not verify if the student has not entered the country and therefore they cannot create a USI.

If the non-Australian overseas student came to Australia and completed one unit in their course, they would be expected to create a USI when they land in Australia by using their international passport and Australian Visa.

If they then left Australia and completed the rest of their course overseas they would already have a USI as created when they came to Australia to complete the first unit of their course. Even if they move back overseas, their USI will still be active as created whilst in Australia.

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If you complete your studies in Australia and are to receive your award after 1 January 2023, you need a USI. 
After you have landed in Australia and passed customs, you can use your non-Australian passport and visa as identification to get a USI. 

If you are not in Australia yet, please contact your higher education provider and let them know you will get a USI after you have arrived in the country.

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There is no requirement for international students who complete all their studies with an Australian education or training provider not in Australia to have a USI.

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International students cannot create a USI until they have entered Australia.

Once they have arrived in Australia, international students can use their non-Australian passport and

Australian Visa as two forms of identification to create a USI. The USI can then be provided to the university.

Go to our website to create a USI.

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If you need help, please call us on 1300 857 536 or from outside on Australia +61 2 6240 8740. Our contact centre is open between 8:30am-6.30pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time), Monday to Friday (excluding national and South Australian public holidays).


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Office of the Student Identifiers Registrar (OSIR)
Last Modified on Tuesday 19th March 2024 [672]