28. Overseas student fees and course requirements

28.1 - Fee requirements

The Commonwealth does not contribute to the educational costs for overseas students unless the students are recipients of a Commonwealth sponsored scholarship. Commonwealth grant amounts are provided for the education of domestic students; they are not provided to subsidise places or services for overseas students (see chapter 6 for definition of ‘overseas student’ and ‘domestic student’).

Chapter 6 of the HEP Guidelines sets out the requirements with which a provider must comply when determining fees for overseas students. The primary purpose of these requirements is to ensure the provision of educational services to overseas students does not displace domestic students or reduce the resources available to providers for the education of domestic students.

In summary, a provider must charge all overseas students a fee for their course that is sufficient to recover the full average cost of providing the course to those students. The fee must be no less than the relevant minimum indicative course fee specified in the HEP Guidelines, except where:

  • a course is provided wholly offshore and students will not, at any stage, enter Australia; or
  • the department has granted approval to charge less than the minimum indicative fee. The department will only grant such approval where the provider is able to provide sufficient information to demonstrate the full cost of delivering the course will be met by the overseas student fee charged.

A provider is not required to meet these overseas student fee requirements for the following classes of students:

  • overseas students who are undertaking a masters or doctoral degree by research in Australia and who have been awarded a scholarship for that study on the basis of merit following a competitive application process; and
  • students who are studying in Australia under a formal exchange program.

A formal exchange program must provide for the reciprocal exchange of students over time and specify that students are only to pay the fees of their home institution.

Study programs covered by the HEP Guidelines

Study programs for overseas students that are covered by chapter 6 of the HEP Guidelines include:

  • courses leading to a higher education award
  • enabling courses; and
  • courses designed especially for overseas students.

28.2 - Registration of courses offered for overseas students

Any course offered to an overseas student who holds a student visa must be registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). This is a requirement of the ESOS Act.

Courses delivered offshore do not need to be registered on CRICOS. However, if they are AQF qualifications, such courses must meet existing onshore registration, accreditation, and quality assurance and data collection arrangements.

As set out in chapter 6 of the HEP Guidelines, a provider is not required to charge the minimum indicative fees for such courses.

28.3 - Reporting requirements for third-party or partnership arrangements

A provider must report to the department data for overseas students who are undertaking a course of study leading to one of the provider’s higher education awards [HESA section 19‑70]. This is separate from and additional to reporting under the ESOS Act and migration legislation.

The provider reports to the department the total fee and the total EFTSL for the unit. The total fee that must be reported is the fee that a student is charged, not just the income to the provider after the third party has been paid. The payment arrangements between the provider and the third party are a matter for the provider.