National Code Part C: Mode and place of study


Courses delivered entirely by online or distance learning cannot be registered on CRICOS. Courses with a distance or online component can only be registered on CRICOS where the designated authority is satisfied that these courses meet the minimum requirements as specified in Standard 9


Key issues

  • A course delivered entirely by online or distance learning can not be registered on CRICOS.
  • A provider may offer electives or components which, added together, make up an amount in excess of 25 percent of a course. As long as it is possible to choose a combination of units which will satisfy course requirements and does not exceed 25 percent distance and/or online learning, this course should be considered as suitable for registration on CRICOS.
  • It is the provider’s responsibility to ensure that a student’s pattern of study does not exceed the 25 percent allowable online or distance learning.
  • When assessing whether a course is suitable for delivery to overseas students, the designated authority will consider whether the subjects or units of a course are suited to delivery by online or distance learning (for example, workplace training/skills development may not be suited to online or distance learning).
  • Designated authorities will also need to consider whether a provider’s marketing materials clearly advise students that only 25 per cent of a course can be completed by online or distance education irrespective of how much of the course can be delivered by distance or online methods.

Overseas students are now allowed to undertake up to 25 per cent of their course by online or distance education.

This clarifies the existing policy position that courses delivered entirely online or distance education cannot be registered on CRICOS (previously 'distance' was considered to include 'online'). Plus, the addition of the word 'entirely' clarifies the distinction between a full course and components of a course delivered by online/distance study.

What Part C Section 9 involves


Providers must monitor each student’s enrolment to ensure they:



take no more than 25 per cent of their course online or by distance education; and


are enrolled in at least one face-to-face subject in each compulsory teaching period.

Where courses are delivered through:

  • equivalently weighted, or directly comparable subjects or units, 25 per cent can be calculated on the basis of the number of subjects/units; and
  • subjects, units or competencies that are difficult to compare, 25 per cent will be calculated on the scheduled contact hours.

Whether a subject, unit or competency is being delivered in online, distance or face-to-face modes will be assessed on the basis of the dominant mode of delivery.

A designated authority will determine whether a subject, unit or competency is being delivered online or by distance through consideration of the dominant delivery mode.

Questions and answers


If a student seeks recognition of prior learning for studies completed by online or distance education do those studies count toward the calculation of the 25 per cent in the student’s current course?


Under Standard 9 of the National Code 2007 a student cannot study more than 25 per cent of his or her course by distance or online learning. As the limit is based on the current course of study, studies undertaken in another course should not be counted within the 25 per cent.



If a course is delivered by online means but the student attends the provider’s premises in order to access the course materials, is that still online?


Yes, if the student is solely communicating with the teacher through electronic means then this will be an online unit, regardless of where the student is physically situated.



If a student’s dominant mode of communication with his or her teacher is by videoconference or teleconference, is this distance or online learning?


This unit may be considered to be both online and distance learning. The teacher and student are separated in time or space throughout the duration of the course and the communication is through electronic technologies.