Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) legislative framework | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) legislative framework

All University of the Sunshine Coast staff who interact directly with international students must be aware of the University’s obligations under the ESOS framework and the potential implications for overseas 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 follow program change processes and consult with stakeholders as appropriate 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, any proposed changes to student-related policies and forms must consider the possible 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 2018
  • ESOS (Registration Charges) Act 1997
  • ESOS (TPS Levies) Act 2012
  • ELICOS Standards 2018

The purpose of the ESOS legislation is to protect the interests of overseas students coming to Australia on Student visas, to protect and enhance Australia’s reputation for quality education services, to provide tuition protection and financial assurance, and to support the integrity of the Student visa system.

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. ESOS compliance is a whole of university responsibility. All USC Schools and departments must be aware of their respective duties in relation to the ESOS Act.

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 all education institutions that recruit, enrol or teach overseas students, must be registered on CRICOS.

Educational institutions must also register each program they offer to overseas students.

To become CRICOS registered, providers must demonstrate that they are compliant with the requirements of the National Code 2018. Each institution and program registered on CRICOS has an identifying CRICOS number. The institution provider number must be shown on all documentation and promotional information, whether in print or online, that suggests that USC can, or is offering programs to international students. USC’s CRICOS Provider Number is 01595D.

What is the National Code 2018?

The National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018, known as ‘the National Code 2018’, 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 2018 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 2018, including:

Marketing, recruitment and education agents

Under the National Code 2018, the University is required to ensure that the marketing of its programs is not false or misleading and is consistent with Australian consumer law.

The University must also recruit students responsibly, ensuring students are appropriately qualified for the program in which they seek enrolment, and provide sufficient information to enable prospective students to make informed decisions about studying at USC and in Australia.

USC’s CRICOS registered name and Provider Number 01595D must appear on all material (both in print and electronic) produced for distribution for the purposes of providing or offering to provide a program to an overseas student, inviting a student to undertake or apply for a program, or indicating it is willing or able to provide a program to overseas students. Individual program CRICOS codes must also be included on any documentation that makes reference to a CRICOS registered program.

USC must ensure that its education agents act ethically, honestly and in the best interests of overseas students as well as uphold the reputation of Australia’s international education sector.

CRICOS registration, formalisation of enrolment and visa requirements including, monitoring course progress and completion within expected duration of study

International students on a Student visa may not be enrolled in programs that 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 expected 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 one third of their program via online or distance courses and must be enrolled in at least one course that is not by distance or online in every compulsory study period unless the student is completing the final course in their program.

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 2018, Standard 8.

International students on a Student visa must meet minimum program progress standards, or risk being reported to the Department of Home Affairs (DOHA) 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 (normally 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 a 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 program duration, as registered on CRICOS and as identified by the length of their Student visa. Monitoring of student load and progress is undertaken by Student Services and Engagement in conjunction with other university divisions and in accordance with the University’s Monitoring Academic Progress and Exclusion - Academic Policy.

Recognition of prior learning and course credit

If a Student visa holder is granted course credit, and this results in a shortening of the student's program, USC International will report the student's new expected course duration via PRISMS, this may result in a reduction of the student's visa duration.

Deferment, suspension or cancellation

International students on a Student visa are not able to take a deferment or suspension of studies in the same way as domestic students can. A deferral or suspension may only be granted to an International student on a Student visa in limited circumstances including where USC deems compassionate or compelling circumstances apply; and on the basis of misbehaviour by the student.

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 Training and DOHA of any suspension or expulsion for reasons of misconduct. Before suspension or exclusion is imposed and any reporting is initiated, USC must inform the student of its intention in writing and advise the student of their right to appeal. Reporting suspension or exclusion to DOHA is likely to impact on the validity of the student's visa.

USC International must be advised when a student changes their program or cancels their enrolment as changes to a student's enrolment status must be reported to the Department of Education and Training via PRISMS and the change may affect the student’s visa.

Complaints and appeals

Under the National Code 2018, international students have the right to access an appropriate internal complaints and appeals process. This requirement is satisfied by the below grievance policies:

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 affect the rights of a student to take action under Australian Consumer Law if the Australian Consumer Law applies.

Overseas student transfers

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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