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Understanding your workload as a student

Does anyone else begin a trimester feeling fresh-faced and ready to tackle whatever assessment, exam, or course content that may come your way – but find themselves losing steam in the final weeks before exams? Seasoned students will know how personal commitments such as family, sport, and work can impact the time and energy you have for study, which is why it’s important to create a healthy balance between your study and life to avoid burning out during the trimester.

The census date for Trimester 1 is Monday, March 21, 2022. This date is important because it is the last day you can withdraw from a unit without paying the fee for it. It’s also a time when you should consider if you can sustain your chosen workload throughout the trimester, especially when balancing other commitments.

Here are a few tips if you’re wondering how much time you should dedicate to your studies and what to do if you wish to drop any units before the census date.

How much time should you spend studying per week?

As a guide, UNE recommends that students should spend 12-15 hours on each unit per week. This includes the time you spend watching lectures, participating in tutorials, completing study guides, doing readings, research, and working on assessments. 15 hours for each unit is plenty of time to achieve what you need to get done each week, but have you considered how you’ll be balancing this with other commitments?

Understand what time you can dedicate to study

How can you balance your commitments if you don’t know how much time they take up in your daily routine?! Many students find it helpful to do what we call a ‘time budget’ which helps to put their commitments into perspective with their studies. We only have 168 hours in a week. This might seem like a lot, but when you work out how many hours a day you spend sleeping, studying, training, caring for family, and/or working, you’ll find there might not be as much time in your schedule for the other activities you enjoy doing.

To create a time budget, write down all the activities you do in a week, this also includes eating, sleeping, showering, etc. Then work out where you are lacking in time and see where you can adjust this.

It could be as simple as trying to get out of bed earlier or cutting back some hours at work. Here’s a handy online time management tool you can do to see how much time you spend on each activity.

Get clear on your study goals

Study goals can help you understand what you’d like to achieve each trimester and how much time you wish to dedicate toward these goals.

  • Do you wish to finish your degree in a shorter amount of time?
  • Do you want to improve your GPA?
  • Do you just want to make it through the trimester without stressing out?

These goals can impact the number of units you should be studying. For instance, wanting to improve your GPA might mean dropping a unit so you can focus more on a particularly harder unit or cutting down on other commitments so you can spend more time working through the course content or assessments. Whereas wanting to complete your degree in a shorter amount of time may require you to pick up full-time study.

What to do if you decide to cut down on your unit load

By now, you’ve probably completed a few weeks of study and maybe even submitted an assessment or at least begun working on one. If you’ve found yourself struggling to stay on top of your weekly to-do list, then it might be worth dropping a unit before or on the census date. To do so, you’ll need to adjust your enrolment in the enrolment portal on MyUNE. Further information on how to do this can be found on the UNE website.

Don’t forget to complete this withdrawal process before 11:59pm on Monday March 21 for trimester 1 2022.

Decide what units to cut

Before you go dropping units – have you considered the following:

  • Is this unit a prerequisite?
  • When will this unit be offered again?
  • Is this unit a requirement for my scholarship?
  • Will this impact my intended graduation date?
  • Am I being realistic with my workload?

It’s important to keep in mind how dropping a certain unit may impact your long-term study. If you’re not sure which unit to drop you can speak to your course coordinator or first-year advisor for further advice.

Where can you go for support?

You’re never far from support at UNE! Here’s a list of places you can go for support with your studies:

  • UNE has a list of online resources you can check out for support on their website here.
  • Current students (on-campus or online) can access free and confidential UNE student Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS). They offer phone or zoom online appointments. Book a 30-minute Wellness Check to speak with one of their friendly Student Wellness Centre Advisors who can assist you with any student/study-related inquiries.
  • Book a Study Gym session with one of the student advisors to discuss your ‘time budget’ and/or assist you with other study-related concerns you’d like to improve including, procrastination, exam anxiety, time management, and concentration. To book a Study Gym, call them during office hours (Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm)  on  +61267732897 or email  studentcounselling@une.edu.au  
  • Submit an ASKUNEquery if you need help with enrolment, progression , etc. 
  • Contact theAcademic Skills Office if you need support with academic writing, you can also access referencing tip sheets as well as writing and time management tip sheets  
  • Reach out to the team at Advocacy & Welfare who can assist you in finding support for any study or personal concerns.

We hope these tips can help you work towards finding the study load that suits you! It may take a trimester or two to find your study groove, so remember to be kind to yourself and reach out if you are in need of support! 


The team at Advocacy and Welfare offers confidential support to students! Contact them here.
Student Success also has confidential counseling for students, you can find them here.
Lifeline is also a 24/7 hotline and you can call them on 13 11 14

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