Where students are not able to study full-time they can apply to study on a Limited Full-time (LFT) basis.
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About Limited Full-time
In order to be eligible for Student Allowance, Student Loan living costs, or course-related costs, students must normally be studying full-time.
Where students are not able to study full-time they can be considered for studying on a Limited Full-time basis if certain criteria are met.
This means that while still enrolled part-time, these students would effectively have the same entitlements as a full-time student.
Poor academic performance does not generally on its own justify approving an application for Limited Full-time status, however it may be a symptom of one of the four categories outlined below.
Criteria for Limited Full-time status
They may qualify for Limited Full-time status if:
- they’re finishing a course and on completion of that course they will have completed a recognised programme that they have previously studied, and to do this they need to study less than full-time but more than half of a full-time course
- the education provider considers they should study less than full-time because:
- they have an illness that prevents them from studying full-time, or
- they can't study full-time and there is sufficient cause outside their control (this includes a disability which prevents them studying full-time), or
- it's in their academic best interests to study less than full-time.
This means that where Limited Full-time status is approved, these students would effectively have the same entitlements as full-time students while still enrolled part-time, including being eligible for the payments mentioned above.
Illness of the student
When a student is unable to study full-time because of a medical condition, as the student’s education provider, you will need to indicate that this is the reason why the student cannot study full-time on the Limited Full-time application form.
To support this application a student will need to provide written confirmation from a registered medical practitioner that:
- details the medical condition
- explains why it prevents the student from studying full-time
- confirms how long this situation is likely to continue (where appropriate).
Sufficient cause outside of the student’s control
There will be situations that are outside a student's control that are sufficient to prevent them from undertaking full-time study. These situations may include:
- family circumstances or responsibilities, or
- a disability, or
- significant administrative changes made by the education provider to a student's proposed course of study.
As the student’s education provider, you will need to indicate that this is the reason why the student cannot study full-time on the Limited Full-time application form and provide details surrounding the student’s circumstances as known to you.
StudyLink will consider each case on its own merits.
The documentation or statements required to support these applications will vary depending on the student’s circumstances. Please advise the student to call and discuss this with us.
Academic best interests
There will be some situations where it will not be in the student's academic best interests to undertake full-time study.
The student may qualify if the advice from the education provider confirms that the student would be likely to fail, for academic reasons, if he or she undertook a full-time course but would be likely to pass more than half of the course if he or she studied part-time.
Academic reasons are reasons that relate directly and only to the student's cognitive ability to successfully undertake the course of study.
The student's education provider needs to confirm that the student is likely to succeed if given the opportunity to study on a part-time basis. The education provider should also indicate whether they believe the student is likely to need to continue studying on a part-time basis beyond the current enrolment period, and why.
Completing the course of study
This Limited Full-time provision applies to situations where a student has is enrolled in more than half of a full-time course, but not in a full-time course, and they have completed part of that course previously, in order to complete their qualification.
If a student is taking a course or programme that on a full-time basis involves up to one year of study, but they choose to undertake it on a part-time basis and therefore it takes longer than a year, they would not qualify for LFT under this provision as they have completed the full programme on a part-time basis.
Students who are repeating papers due to an earlier failure, who will complete that qualification and they have completed part of that course previously and they are studying more than half of a full-time course, can qualify under this provision.
The education provider's role
Under the Student Allowances Regulations 1998, approval of LFT status is made “on the advice of a Tertiary Provider.”
The LFT form has a section for a staff member at your provider to complete; to provide advice from an academic point of view. While StudyLink will receive (in case of medical issues) information from a registered health professional, they may not be in a position to determine what impact such an issue would have in academic terms, and how much study the student can realistically undertake.
The person completing the form can be any staff member from the education provider. However, it is recommended that this is someone that knows of the student’s situation, and understands how much study they realistically could undertake given their circumstances. That person may wish to request further evidence or information from the student to help support your recommendation.
The provider statement is one of the factors StudyLink considers when deciding whether to approve an application for Limited Full-time status. You are not obliged to support the application; you are simply providing advice from an academic point of view. If you feel, after seeing all the available information and evidence, that the student should be studying a full-time workload, then you can advise that you do not support the student’s application for these reasons.
StudyLink will take your advice into consideration and make the final decision on the application.