Want to go on a semester exchange?

Completing a semester exchange is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have as a uni student, but there is a lot to consider, and it can be difficult to know where to get started. If you’re thinking about applying for an overseas exchange semester, or are just curious about the process, keep reading to find out more. We demystify the process so you’re as prepared as possible to embark on the journey of a lifetime.

UniSA has over 80 partnerships in 30 countries with universities around the world, offering an amazing range of study options. If you’re not sure why you should consider studying abroad, take a look at this page to read about just some of the many benefits!


  • What’s semester exchange? minus-thick plus-thick

    Going on a semester exchange means you’ll undertake a whole semester (usually correlating to SP2 or SP5) at one of UniSA’s exchange partners. Students from our partner universities also study at UniSA under the same model, hence the term ‘exchange’ – one student in and one student out!

    As an outbound exchange student, you’ll enrol into and attend classes at your host university (more on this later) and on completion, have those classes recognised towards your UniSA degree. Courses taken on your exchange semester are not an addition to your UniSA degree, they’re courses you take in substitution for your UniSA courses. Your studies at UniSA shouldn’t need to be extended in order to accommodate the exchange semester, though it’s possible you’ll need to change the order of your anticipated enrolment.  

    While on your exchange semester you remain enrolled at UniSA. Because of this, you don’t pay tuition fees to your host uni, but continue to pay tuition (as standard) to UniSA for the period you’re away.


  • Check your eligibility minus-thick plus-thick

    One of the first things you need to do is check the eligibility requirements for taking part in a semester exchange. The requirements are different for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

    For the full list of eligibility requirements, please see here.

    Eligibility to participate is assessed as of the application close date, not when you actually submit your application.

  • Work out your study plan minus-thick plus-thick

    Once you’ve checked that you meet the eligibility requirements (or that you’ll meet them by the time you’re assessed for participation), you need to work out if a semester exchange will fit in your remaining study plan. You can do this by referring to your program homepage and by way of deduction and elimination working out what you have left remaining in your program.

    The team at Campus Central (or the Business Hub if you’re a UniSA Business student) is able to help with working out your study plan. They may be able to issue you a personalized study plan or connect you with your Program Director/Academic Unit for more detail. They may also be able to give you some advice about whether any of your remaining courses must be completed within Australia, or if there’s any flexibility in the plan.

    This step is really important because, in order to find courses you can study overseas, you’ll need to work out how they’ll be credited back towards your UniSA degree.

    When on a semester exchange, you need to study at least 13.5 units or a maximum of 18 units (similar to a full semester load at UniSA).  So, when looking at your study plan, you’ll need to identify at least 13.5 units (usually 3 courses) that you could potentially get credit for from an exchange semester.

    When looking at what you have left at UniSA, you should note the following:

    • Do you have any electives?
    • Do you have courses you must complete at UniSA/in Australia?
    • Is it possible to re-order your remaining subjects to make subject matching easier?

    Keep in mind, you don’t have to use electives for your exchange program, you can use core subjects/majors/minors, though using electives can give you the greatest flexibility when making your subjects choices.

    Your Academic Unit will also be able to help you identify the best time in your degree to go on exchange. It might not be the same time that you were originally thinking, so keep an open mind and try to be flexible. This is one of the key reasons we say it’s great to start planning as far ahead as possible!

  • Research what you can study minus-thick plus-thick

    Once you’ve determined exactly what courses you have remaining in your degree, and have identified a window of opportunity, it’s time to start looking for your host institution, and which courses are available for you to take.

    You might already have a specific country or location in mind, though it’s worth noting that not every university UniSA partners with offers courses in all of our teaching areas. In fact, there are some countries where only a very narrow subject offering is available. Again, it’s really important to keep an open mind about your eventual host location. You might not be able to find the subjects you need at a university in France, for example, but you’ll have just as rewarding an experience studying in Denmark, or Hong Kong!

    On our exchange partner database, you’ll see all of UniSA’s partner institutions listed by country. Each listing has information about the level of subjects available to you (undergraduate or postgraduate or both) as well as the general study areas available).  In each partner profile, you’ll find the detailed study areas available for full semester exchanges, as well as a link to their course homepages.

    This part of the process is one of the more labour-intensive steps. It can be tricky navigating all those partner university websites and decoding their lingo. Keep at it though! The final experience of being on exchange more than makes up for the time spent looking into courses.

    When searching for courses offered at partner universities keep in mind:

    • Semester availability – are the subjects you’re looking at available in the matching timeframe at UniSA?
    • Language of instruction – all our partners offer courses in English, though in some cases the English courses are limited. Be sure you’re looking at English-taught courses only unless you plan to take classes in local-language
    • Credit equivalence – refer to this page for more detail, but make sure you’re looking at an equivalent study load (so far nobody else uses the same subject weighting as UniSA!)

    When on a semester exchange, you will need to study at least 13.5 units or a maximum of 18 units, similar to a normal semester at UniSA.

    So, when you are looking at what you can potentially study on exchange, you would need to consider what have you got left remaining in your program. Do you have enough Electives for a full semester, or will you need to mix it up with core courses? If you need to get credit for core courses, check if your chosen university offer equivalent courses. You may need to obtain a copy of their course outline and share this with your Program Director.

    As part of your application for the exchange program, you’re asked to list at least three possible universities where you might be able to undertake your exchange. You’re asked to provide three (or more) because sometimes the demand for places at certain institutions is greater than the places we have available to offer. It’s important to make sure that your second, third, or even fourth choice university would still be an available option if you’re not able to be offered a place at your first preference.



    Once you’ve investigated your overseas study options, come meet with one of our team members to discuss your plans.

    We’ll go through the website together to review UniSA exchange partners that are suitable for you and discuss your credit requirements. We’ll walk you through the process, make sure you’re on the right track, fill in gaps in information, and help you navigate any particularly tricky parts of the application process.

    We can also answer any questions you might have about funding, application and semester timing, and where to find the relevant information. We might also have some insider advice or tips that are specifically relevant to you or your anticipated program of study.

    Appointments are available in person at our office at Level 1, 101 Currie Street, Adelaide, or via Zoom. Let us know your meeting preference by emailing student.exchange@unisa.edu.au with your availability (i.e. date and time). In your email, please also explain what stage you’re up to so we can better assist you.

  • Speak to your Program Director/Academic Advisor minus-thick plus-thick

    At this point you should have:

    • Checked your eligibility for the exchange program
    • Determined which courses you have remaining at UniSA, including flexibility in the remainder of your program
    • Identified the best ‘window of opportunity' for you to participate in the exchange semester, and
    • Identified a number of courses at a few partner universities that you think would fit into your UniSA program

    If so, you’re now ready to have a chat with your Program Director. It’s worthwhile having this conversation as early as possible to make sure you leave room in your program for the experience. 

    You don’t need to obtain formal Program Director approval at this stage, but it’s good to let them know that you’d like to go on an overseas experience and to get their support before you formally apply.

    Discuss how the exchange is going to fit in your study plan. Are you able to receive credit for your overseas courses? Can the overseas study take the place of one of your UniSA core courses, or is it more likely to take the place of an elective?  Remember, these are the things that you need to research and chat with your Program Director about as they are the ones to ultimately give the final approval on credit.

    Your course selection doesn’t have to be perfectly planned now, but you’ll need to ensure that should you be accepted to go on exchange, there will be suitable courses for you at your selected host university.

  • Funding and affordability minus-thick plus-thick

    On an exchange program, you’re not required to pay tuition to the exchange partner - you will pay tuition to UniSA the same way you would normally. You will, however, need to budget for costs such as accommodation, living expenses, flights,  student amenities fees, incidental travel, etc.

    Don’t forget that some countries are going to be much more expensive to travel to than others. Something else to keep in mind when deciding on a destination is the associated funding and grants that are tied to specific countries and regions. The Australian Government currently offers travel grants to students who would like to travel to countries within the Asia-Pacific. This funding is awarded to university students under the New Colombo Plan (NCP) – an initiative that was designed to help strengthen Australia’s ties within the region. If you would like to know more about NCP travel grants, check-in with the Study Overseas team to see what grants are available.

    There may be grants or scholarships that are available to help you further fund your time abroad. If you are approved to participate in an in-country Semester Exchange or Short Term program, delivered by one of UniSA’s established mobility partners in 2023, you will automatically be considered for a UniSA International Travel Grant. Read our funding and scholarship webpage for more information. 

  • When to apply? minus-thick plus-thick

    If you’re ready to apply, make sure you have all the relevant information handy, then complete the application form before the deadline. You’re also encouraged to make time to chat with someone in the Study Overseas team to talk through your plans to discuss anything specific to your situation.

    To study overseas in Study Period 2 (Feb - July) applications are open from 1 May to 1 August.
    ​​​​​​​Applications close 11:59pm on 1 August of the year before you plan to go on exchange

    To study overseas in Study Period 5 (July- Dec) applications are open from 1 October to 11 January.
    Applications close 11:59pm on 11 January of the year you plan to go on exchange

    You’ll need to list at least THREE university preferences in your application. Exchange places can be very competitive, and you may not get your first or second preference. So, to avoid disappointment, make sure you’re happy to be placed at any of the universities listed in your application. You’ll also need to list three to four courses that you might enrol into at your first and second university preferences. Don’t worry, these won’t necessarily be your final enrolments overseas. We just need to know that there are courses for you to study at each of your selected host.

  • What happens after you apply? minus-thick plus-thick

    All semester exchange applications are assessed in the weeks following the relevant application deadline, so be aware that you’ll likely be sent the application outcome from us in either late August/early September for study in SP2 OR in February/early March for study in SP5.

    If your application is successful, you’ll be advised which university you’ve been allocated to and will be required to attend a compulsory acceptance workshop. At the acceptance workshop, we’ll talk through the host nomination and application process, as well as your mandatory pre-departure tasks. Attendance at the acceptance workshop is essential for you to progress in the exchange program. We’ll advise the dates and times of your acceptance workshop in your outcome email.

    And as always, if you ever have any questions along the way, feel free to get in touch with the Study Overseas team at student.exchange@unisa.edu.au.