Education Legislative Framework

This page contains vital information for all students who wish to or are considering studying in Australia. Please read this page in order to have a general understanding of the Australian Student Visa framework, which will in turn help you in protecting your interests and from being misled by unscrupulous agents.

International education in Australia is controlled by a number of Acts of Parliament & associate regulations at both the Federal & State level.

The Student Visa Program of Australia allows foreign students to temporarily live and study in Australia. The Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000 provides the primary legislative framework for the protection of International students in Australia (who study in Australia on a student visa) & regulates international education in Australia. It’s 3 main objectives are –

  • to provide financial & tuition assurance to overseas students, for courses they have paid for
  • to protect & enhance Australian reputation for quality education & training services
  • to complement Australian migration laws by ensuring providers collect & report information relevant to the administration of the law relating to student visas

The ESOS Act does not apply to students who wish to study courses of a very short duration in Australia. Such students may be able to study in Australia on another visa, such as a Tourist Visa or Working Holiday Visa.

The National Code of Practice 2018 is the legislation under the ESOS Act that sets nationally consistent standards for education providers to deliver quality education & training to international students. Education providers must comply with the National Code to maintain their registration to provide education services to international students.

Under the ESOS Act, only education providers registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) are allowed to offer education and training to international students, and registration on CRICOS of all educational institutions & courses offered to international students is mandatory. CRICOS records all of the registered courses for each provider that is registered to provide education to an international student in Australia on a student visa.

The “Overseas Students Ombudsman” investigates complaints against private education providers. Complaints dealt by the Ombudsman may include:

  • Refusing admission to course
  • Course fees and refunds
  • Course or Provider transfers
  • Course progress or attendance
  • Cancellation of enrolment
  • Accommodation or work arranged by the provider
  • Incorrect advice given an authorized education agent

Complaints against publicly funded education providers are investigated by the relevant state / territory.

The “Tuition Protection Service (TPS)” provides a mechanism to place students when a provider cannot meet its obligations, or to provide refunds of pre–paid course fees. It ensures that international students are able to either :

  • Complete their studies in another course or with another education provider, OR
  • Receive a refund of their unspent tuition fees

Under the TPS framework, all providers have a statutory obligation to report to the TPS director about provider or student defaults.

PRISMS is a database which produces & tracks all Confirmation of Enrolments (CoE) documents that are produced for international students studying in Australia on a student visa. These CoEs are necessary for the issuance of student visas.

A Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) records which course or courses a student is enrolled in. If a student is enrolled in more than one course, more than one CoE is produced. This allows a student to get a student visa for the combined length of all courses he/she is enrolled in.

There are TWO reasons why an education provider uses PRISMS to report students to DHA for non-complance :

  • Non attendance of classes
  • Unsatisfactory academic performance

On 1 July 2016, the new “Simplified Student Visa Framework” (SSVF) came into effect to assess all student visa applications. Also, online lodgement of all student visa applications became mandatory. The SSVF uses the combined immigration risk outcomes of the student’s education provider and country of citizenship to determine the level of documentation relating to financial capacity and English language that a student must provide with their student visa application.

Students that are linked to lower immigration risk outcomes may access streamlined evidentiary requirements which will generally allow them to meet financial requirements via a declaration and English language proficiency requirements by satisfying their education provider. Students associated with higher immigration risk outcomes are subject to ‘regular’evidentiary requirements and are required to provide specific documentary evidence of the financial and English language capacity. These can be stringent. Hence, students are advised to choose their education provider carefully & after a thorough analysis.

If you are still unable to take a decision on the institution/course, or have chosen one but are unfamiliar with the process of applying, or have secured admission in an educational institution and wish to apply for a student visa, or wish to apply for a Student Guardian Visa, please contact us.