Qualifications recognition, ESOS framework, Tuition Protection Service

For: 

The department provides qualifications recognition services using the Australian Qualifications Framework as a benchmark. It also provides rigorous protection for international students through the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) legislation and the Tuition Protection Service, which is a placement and refund service for international students on student visas affected by a provider closure.

Qualifications recognition

The department supports student and labour mobility though policies, information products, services and advice to assist individuals and organisations on the comparability of overseas qualifications in Australia, and professional mobility programs. It also provides information about the Australian tertiary education system in other countries to promote the recognition of Australian qualifications internationally. For more information see Qualifications recognition.

Education Services for Overseas Students Framework

Australia provides rigorous protection for international students through the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) legislation, which requires institutions that provide education to international students to meet nationally consistent standards in education delivery, facilities and services. Breaches of the Act are treated seriously and the penalties can be significant.

All institutions wanting to deliver courses to international students in Australia must be registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) and meet special registration conditions.

The National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2007 (the National Code) provides nationally consistent standards for the conduct of registered providers and the registration of their courses.

The standards set out specifications and procedures to ensure that registered providers of education and training courses can clearly understand and comply with their obligations under the National Code.

Important information for students

The Department of Education and Training has released a new fact sheet for international students containing important information about their rights and responsibilities while studying in Australia.

Students can access this fact sheet for information on:

  • choosing and enrolling in a course of study
  • support services available in Australia
  • the rights and responsibilities of students on a student visa
  • working in Australia
  • making complaints and getting help.

Please click here to access the fact sheet.

Changes to the legislative framework for overseas students

The Australian Government released a public consultation draft of a revised  National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2017 (National Code) in February 2017. The National Code sets nationally consistent standards for delivery of education to overseas students.

Proposed changes aim to modernise and simplify the National Code so it can be easily applied by providers and regulators, and increase flexibility where appropriate and relevant for international students.

Key areas for reform include:

  • strengthening requirements for care of under 18 students to ensure a high standard of welfare is maintained during their entire period of study in Australia
  • introducing a slight increase in the amount of online learning that may be delivered to international students, from 25 per cent to one third of the total course
  • giving more guidance to providers in how they assess students' requests for transfer to another provider, while maintaining the existing six month transfer restriction period.

The Government received over 100 submissions from education institutions, peak bodies, international students and all other interested parties on the proposed changes.

All submissions are being closely considered in finalising provisions on the National Code and a revised National Code is expected to be released in mid-2017.  

In December 2015, the Parliament passed changes to the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act).

These amendments streamline regulation, remove duplicative requirements and cut red tape in the ESOS framework, without compromising Australia's strong student protections or our reputation as a world class destination for international students. The changes free up education institutions to invest in quality and innovative teaching and learning, so they can become even more competitive globally. They also give students, or the person paying tuition fees on their behalf, more flexibility to manage their tuition fee payments.

Three measures in the new legislation came into effect on 14 December 2015 to directly reduce administrative costs for education institutions. Please click here for fact sheets outlining the changes to:

Other changes that simplify registration and regulatory processes took effect from 1 July 2016 and can be found below:

Tuition Protection Service (TPS)

The TPS is a placement and refund service for international students on student visas affected by a provider closure. The TPS may also assist where students have withdrawn from or not started their course and are eligible for a refund of tuition fees that have not been paid by the provider. The TPS Director, appointed by the Minister, is responsible for delivering the service and ensuring its sustainability in the future.

The TPS online placement system provides students with the information they need to choose an alternative course that best suits them, or if there is no course that meets their needs, a refund of any pre-paid tuition fees. Further information is available on the TPS website.