The Tuition Protection Service (TPS) is an Australian Government initiative which supports international students on student visas and eligible domestic students whose education providers are unable to fully deliver their course of study.
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About the Tuition Protection Service
The TPS safeguards Australia’s reputation as an education destination by supporting registered education providers to understand and meet their obligations to students, and supporting eligible students whose education providers ‘default’. A provider default occurs when an education provider closes, fails to start a course or unit of study, or stops offering a course or unit of study to enrolled students.
The TPS was established in 2012 as an international student tuition protection scheme under the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000.
The TPS was expanded in 2020 under the VET Student Loans Act 2016 and the Higher Education Support Act 2003, and in 2021 under the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011, to provide tuition protection for specific domestic student cohorts.
The TPS supports four student cohorts enrolled at private education providers:
- international students on student visas
- domestic Vocational Education and Training (VET) students receiving VET Student Loan (VSL) assistance
- domestic higher education students receiving FEE-HELP or HECS-HELP loan assistance
- domestic higher education students who pay their tuition fees up-front.
Following a provider default, the TPS ensures that these students can either:
- complete their studies at another education provider; or
- receive a refund of the tuition fees paid up-front for the affected unit(s) of study; or
- receive a loan re-credit for the loan amount used to pay tuition fees for the affected unit(s) of study.
The TPS is managed by the TPS Director, which is a statutory position created under Commonwealth legislation. The TPS Director is responsible for the delivery and maintenance of the long-term sustainability of the Service. The current TPS Director is Ms Melinda Hatton.
The TPS Director is supported by the TPS Advisory Board. The Board is required, by legislation, to consist of six Commonwealth members and up to seven independent members. The Board’s function is to provide advice and make recommendations to the TPS Director on the settings of the TPS levies.
Tuition protection levies
The TPS is sector and Commonwealth funded. Education providers pay one or more annual sector-based tuition protection levies commensurate with their size and risk of defaulting. The levies are held in sector-based quarantined accounts and are used to fund the activities of the TPS following a default.
The four levies collected by the TPS annually are the:
- international TPS levy
- VSL tuition protection levy
- HELP tuition protection levy
- up-front payments tuition protection levy.
Annual levy settings are determined in legislative instruments made under the following Acts:
- Education Services for Overseas Students (TPS Levies) Act 2012
- VET Student Loans (VSL Tuition Protection Levy) Act 2020
- Higher Education Support (HELP Tuition Protection Levy) Act 2020
- Higher Education (Up-front Payments Tuition Protection Levy) Act 2020.
The Australian Government waived all domestic tuition protection levies in 2020 and 2021, and the international TPS levy in 2022, as a COVID-19 pandemic relief measure for education providers.
TPS Service Charter
The TPS Service Charter outlines the function of the TPS and the standard of service stakeholders can expect to receive.
The TPS Director’s Privacy Complaints Handling Policy outlines how a complaint can be made by a stakeholder who believes their personal information has not been handled by the TPS Director in accordance with the Australian Privacy Principles (APP).