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Regulation of International Education in Australia – An Overview

International education is regulated by the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS) and the associated National Code of Practice 2007. 'International' education here refers to students of other nationalities undertaking study in Australia on a student visa. 'Transnational' refers to delivery of Australian education offshore which is outside the scope of ESOS.

Australia has legislation to provide rigorous protection for international students: 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; and the National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2007 (the National Code) which provides nationally consistent standards for the conduct of registered providers and the registration of their courses.

Courses delivered to international students on a student visa must be listed on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) and meet special registration conditions. They must be full-time and accredited by the appropriate authority, although the National Code allows for students to enrol in a less than full-time load in certain circumstances.

The courses may lead to an award under the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), or be non-award, such as most Foundation and ELICOS Programs (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students). Note that some international visitors undertake short periods of study on other visas, such as a visitor or working holiday visa.

The regulator for higher education in Australia is The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA)TEQSA is responsible for regulation and enforcement of CRICOS for higher education and dual sector providers.

The law requires providers to participate in the Tuition Protection Service (TPS). It enables students to be placed in another course or to receive a refund if their institution is unable to teach the course (known as a provider default); visit for more information.

The Overseas Students Ombudsman (OSO) aims to resolve complaints between international students and private providers; and assists providers to improve policies and practices. It has a useful best practice complaints handling model: or call 1300 362 072.

For students from a government education institution, which includes most universities and TAFEs, the external appeal body will most likely be the ombudsman for the State/ Territory or Commonwealth. Contact details of all Australian ombudsmen are at

The Department of Education and Training (DET) site contains many useful sections on Legislation, Provider Registration, Standards (National Code) and Information for Students: Students rights and responsibilities are explained in the DET Fact Sheet for Students which can be downloaded from or call 1300 363 079. More information on The Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Framework is available at

Migration agents, rather than education agents, provide information on visa and immigration matters. Find out more about using migration agents at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website at

More information for students can be viewed at: Student visa data can be viewed at: Information about obtaining visas is at: or call 131 881.

Student Visas

Institutions or their delegated agents issue an electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) which the student uses to apply for their visa, usually online. Students must satisfy the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) test, health and character criteria and meet other conditions such as provide evidence of English proficiency and financial capacity, as determined by the risk rating of their country of citizenship and the risk rating of their education institution, both on a  three point scale from 1 (lowest) to 3 (highest).

For more information on student visa requirements visit the  Department of Immigration and Border Protection website:

Information on the Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF) which came into effect in July 2016 is at:

Institutions report any changes to a student’s course or CoE through the Provider Registration and International Students Management System (PRISMS).

Other Useful Links

DET and Austrade report comprehensive monthly international student data recorded from PRISMS:

DET also provides useful reports, comparative global data and visualisation tools:

Student visa data can be viewed at: