Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) legislative framework

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Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) legislative framework

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All University of the Sunshine Coast staff who interact directly with international students must be aware of the University’s obligations under the ESOS legislative framework and the potential implications for students arising from the exercise of these obligations.

ESOS legislative framework awareness training online supports this compliance obligation through a comprehensive self-paced, online training program about staff responsibilities under the ESOS legislative framework. The interactive program is available for all staff of the University.

Staff should consult with USC International regarding any proposed changes to University programs, including changes to program names, duration, mode of delivery or any other changes which may impact international students on a Student visa.

Additionally, USC International should be consulted regarding any proposed changes to student-related policies and forms to advise if there are implications for international students on a Student visa.

The Department of Education and Training regulates the education and training sector’s involvement with overseas students studying in Australia on Student visas. The Department of Education and Training does this through the ESOS framework, which includes:

  • ESOS Act (2000)
  • ESOS Regulations (2001)
  • The National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students
  • ESOS Registration Charges Act

The purpose of the ESOS legislation is to protect the interests of people coming to Australia on Student visas and to protect Australia’s reputation for delivering quality education services, by setting minimum standards and providing tuition and financial assurance.

The legislation mandates a nationally consistent approach to registering education providers, so that the quality of the tuition, and care of students, remains of a high standard.

The ESOS Act protects students, and provides institutions with clear roles and responsibilities. Divisions within the office of the Pro Vice Chancellor (International and Quality) are responsible for maintaining ESOS compliance, including: maintaining staff information and training for compliance; managing CRICOS registration; and complying with the National Code standards across marketing, admission and enrolment matters relating to international students.

What is CRICOS?

USC is registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). CRICOS is a database of Australian education institutions and any education institution that recruits, enrols or teaches overseas students, must be registered on CRICOS.

Educational institutions must also register each course (USC Program) they offer to overseas students.

To become CRICOS registered, providers must demonstrate that they are compliant with the requirements of the National Code. Each institution and program registered on CRICOS has an identifying CRICOS number. The institution number must be shown on all documentation offered to overseas students. USC’s CRICOS Provider Number is 01595D.

What is the National Code?

The National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students, known as ‘the National Code’, provides nationally consistent standards for the conduct of registered providers and the registration of their programs.

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

The objectives of the National Code are to:

  • support the ESOS framework, including: supporting the effective administration of the framework by the Australian Government and state and territory governments;
  • establish and safeguard Australia’s international reputation as a provider of high quality education and training;
  • protect the interests of overseas students; and
  • support registered providers in monitoring student compliance with Student visa conditions and in reporting any student breaches to the Australian Government.

What does the ESOS Act mean for USC staff?

As a CRICOS registered provider of programs to overseas students, USC is required to ensure compliance with the ESOS Act and National Code of Practice.

It is the responsibility of each staff member within the University community, who interacts directly with international students, to be aware of the ESOS Act, to understand its purpose and functions, and to give consideration of the ESOS Act in all operational and decision making activity, ensuring that implications of these actions and decisions for international students are managed in a compliant manner.

Standard 6.7 of the National Code of Practice requires the University to ensure that staff members who interact directly with international students are aware of the University’s obligations under the ESOS framework and the potential implications for students arising from the exercise of these obligations.

Staff must be familiar with the obligations under the National Code including:

Marketing and recruitment

Under the ESOS National Code, the University is required to ensure that the marketing of its programs is professional, accurate, and maintains the integrity and reputation of the University and the Australian education industry.

The University must also recruit students in an ethical and responsible manner and provide information that enables prospective students to make informed decisions about studying in Australia.

USC’s CRICOS Provider Number 01595D must appear on all documentation (both print and electronic) produced for distribution including promotional materials and program information. Individual program CRICOS codes must also be included on any documentation that makes reference to a CRICOS registered program.

CRICOS registration, enrolment, monitoring course progress and completion within expected duration of study

International students on a Student visa may not be enrolled in programs which are not CRICOS registered. Programs must meet specific requirements in terms of duration and delivery in order to be registered on CRICOS. Changes to programs may affect the CRICOS registration for that program.

The ESOS Act requires that the University ensures onshore international students are enrolled in the correct load according to the requirements of their Student visa.

International students on Student visas are required to complete their program within the standard duration of the program as registered on CRICOS – this generally means that international students need to remain enrolled full-time.

International students on a Student visa may complete a maximum of 25 percent of their program via online courses or distance courses and must be enrolled in at least one on campus course in every compulsory study period.

International students on a Student visa cannot undertake a program of study wholly online, but a ‘blended’ mode of study is acceptable in accordance with the requirements of the National Code of Practice 2007, Standard 9.

International students on a Student visa must meet minimum program progress standards, or risk being reported to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) which may place the validity of the visa at risk. The University must ensure an Academic Intervention Strategy is implemented to identify and support students who are at risk of failing to meet minimum program progress standards.

Unless there are compassionate or compelling circumstances that prohibit international students from studying full-time (ie 48 units per semester) they are not guaranteed an extension to their Student visa if they do not complete within the CRICOS registered timeframe. Should students be enrolled in less than an 48 unit load in any given semester they will not be guaranteed a new Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) required for a new application/visa extension.

The University is required to monitor the study load of international students to ensure that they can complete the program within the expected course duration, as registered on CRICOS and as identified by the length of their Student visa. Monitoring of student load and progress is undertaken by USC International in conjunction with other university divisions and  in accordance with the University’s Monitoring Academic Progress and Exclusion - Academic Policy.

Course credit

If a Student visa holder is granted course credit, and this results in a shortening of the student's course, USC International will report the student's new expected course duration to DIBP, who may then reduce the student's visa duration.

Deferment, suspension or cancellation

International students on a Student visa are not able to take a suspension of studies, or defer, as per University rules for domestic students, unless exceptional circumstances apply.

USC International must be advised when a student changes or cancels their enrolment. International students can only defer or temporarily suspend their enrolment where compassionate or compelling circumstances apply. Any changes to a student's enrolment status must be reported to the Department of Education and the change may affect the student’s visa.

The University's misconduct rules allow for the suspension of a student's enrolment for one or two semesters, or the expulsion of the student from the University. USC International is required to notify the Department of Education and DIBP of any suspension or expulsion for reasons of misconduct, and this is likely to impact on the validity of the student's visa.

Complaints and appeals

Under the ESOS National Code 2007, international students have the right to access an appropriate internal complaints and appeal process. This requirement is satisfied by the Student Complaints and Appeals - Governing Policy and the Student Complaints and Appeals - Procedures.

Students who are not satisfied with the outcome arising from the University’s internal complaints and appeals process, may refer their appeal or complaint to a relevant external agency.

In addition, the availability of complaints and appeals processes does not remove a student’s right to take action under Australia’s consumer protection laws.

Transfer between registered providers

International students may not be permitted to transfer between registered providers within the first six months of their principal program of study unless they meet specific criteria.

The University’s Transfer of Student Visa Students between Registered Providers – Managerial Policy and Transfer of Student Visa Students between Registered Providers - Procedures must be used in all cases of students seeking to change their registered provider within the first six months of their principal program of study.

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More information and contacts

To ensure the University’s compliance with ESOS legislation, USC International should be consulted in relation to any case in which international students on a Student visa may be affected.

If you have any questions about ESOS and your rights and responsibilities, please contact:

Jane Batzloff 
Quality Officer 
Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (International and Quality)
Email: jbatzlof@usc.edu.au
Tel: +61 7 5430 1144 

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