Elite Student Athlete Support

High performance sport requires a significant commitment and when combined with academic studies, student athletes require support to excel in both pursuits. Elite student athletes may be entitled to access support from several organisations such as their university, national sporting organisation, state instute or academy of sport, sporting club, government (local, state and/or federal) and their local community.  In addition to the varying supporting organisations the mechanism of support can also vary. 

University Support

Many Australian universities provide support to assist in balancing the demands of dual career student athletes.  Support provided by universities is varied, however the most common types of support universities may provide to their student athletes are:

  • academic (timetabling, early access to tutorial sign-on, counselling, tutoring, exam/assignment flexibility) 
  • financial (grants, travel)
  • workshop and seminar access
  • sport science and medicine access
  • sporting facility access

Several Australian universities offer specfic elite sport scholarships, grants and burseries.  For further information contact your university.

Government Funding Opportunties

The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) provides several funding opportunties to elite athletes. A description of the ASC funding is detailed on the ASC website.    Other funding opportunities are available through government departments and organisations.

National Sporting Organisation / National Institute Network

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) works closely with each State Institute or State Academy of Sport (SIS/SAS) and National Sporting Organisation (NSO) to deliver the AIS Personal Excellence initiative.  Personal Excellence is designed to assist athletes to make informed decisions that impact performance in sport and life. Many National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) employ support staff to assist elite student athletes balance their training and competition requirements with life outside of sport.  A list of support staff located at the AIS and each SIS/SAS is available on the AIS website.


Elite Athlete Definition

How an elite athlete is defined may vary within the university sector.  However the majority of elite athletes within Australia are categorised by their respective National Sporting Organisation (NSO) and/or are on scholarship within the network of institutes and academies of sport around Australia.  

The Australia’s Winning Edge Athlete Categories have been developed to provide a consistent basis, both within and across sports to:

  • Identify the athletes with the greatest potential to contribute to Australia’s Winning Edge targets
  • Track their performance over time
  • Inform the prioritisation of support to these athletes.

Athletes who fall outside of this cohort must be identified and recognised, or be a member of one of the following organisations as an 'elite athlete or coach.'

  • Australian Institute of Sport
  • State Institutes or Academies of Sport
  • AFL Players’ Association
  • Australian Cricketers’ Association
  • Rugby Union Players’ Association
  • Rugby League Professionals’ Association
  • Australian Professional Footballers’ Association
  • National squad members from Australian Sports Commission funded sports

If an athlete is not recognised by one of the above, they may submit an application for conisderation to the university. The university will use its discretion in assessing student athletes.

Elite Athlete Friendly University Program (EAFU)

The Elite Athlete Friendly University (EAFU) program supports Australia’s elite athletes to achieve academic excellence while also pursuing a sporting career.  The value of combining both sport and higher education to achieve greater life success is well recognised across the university and sporting sectors.  There are 39 universities across Australia that are part of the EAFU network. Each of these universities has a contact person to support elite athletes within their university.

The EAFU contact person may provide:

  • advice and guidance on academic planning
  • support in negotiating flexibility to meet academic requirements
  • advocacy within the university environment
  • support in negotiating and/or implementing cross-institutional study or credit transfer arrangements.

Please note: not all universities in the EAFU program provide all of the support services outlined. You will need to check with your university as to how they can assist you.

Universities belonging to the EAFU network understand athletes require increased support to successfully combine study, training and competition. As a result, eligible athletes may be able to negotiate their study options, assessment and course entry.

Flexible study options

  • academic study loads
  • lecture, tutorial and practical timetables
  • extending the minimum time to complete courses due to periods of decreased study load
  • several leaves of absence where required (for example, an Olympic year)
  • cross-institutional study options with interstate universities.


  • assessment deadlines, and the possibility of sitting exams externally under exam conditions while competing overseas
  • attendance at lectures, tutorials or practicals.

Course entry:

  • A number of universities allow elite athletes to submit accompanying documentation regarding athletic pursuits and achievements for consideration for course entry. This is normally highlighted within tertiary admissions documentation.

 For futher information download the EAFU Brochure.

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University Elite Athlete Support Links


Key University Dates

Universities Australia

Universites Australia is the peak body representing the university sector in the public interest both nationally and internationally. Universities Australia's vision is to support a sustainable national university system characterised by inherent quality, accessibility, innovation and high performance that affirms Australia as a world-leading nation and valued international partner.

Academic and Common Vacation Dates

Universities Australia has a central repository of information covering the 43 universities operating in Australia. A summary of key 2016 academic dates including teaching start/finish dates, exam periods and mid-term breaks are available in one table. The table should be used as a guide and does not fully replace individual university academic calendars. Universities Australia also publishes a list of suggested common vacation weeks from 2016 - 2024 which may assist in future planning of student athlete availablity. Universities Australia has identified common vacation weeks are :

  • the week beginning with Easter Monday (28 March to 1 April 2016)
  • week 19 - (4 to 6 July 2016)
  • week 31 - (26 - 30 September 2016)

Census Dates

Census dates vary between individual universities and for specific dates please refer to academic and/or key dates on respective university websites.  However the following months can be used as a guide for census dates:

Semester 1 - March

Semester 2 - August


Trimester 1 - February

Trimester 2 - June

Trimester 3 - October


Summer Term - January

Winter Term - July


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  • AUS
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