Universities Australia plays an active role in working with Government and the relevant government departments and bodies to ensure that the legislative and regulatory framework lends itself to an efficient and non burdensome environment for universities to operate.

The international education legislative framework is dominated by the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act which provides the overarching legislative framework for supporting students, protecting the reputation of Australia's education system and maintaining the integrity of Australia's student migration system.

Under the ESOS Act sits the National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students. The National Code is a set of national standards that ensure the protection of overseas students enrolled at providers registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS).  An institution must be registered on CRICOS in order to provide education to international students. 

Universities are also deeply concerned with immigration and visa policy given the potential impact any changes in this space can have on the international education industry. In order to study at university in Australia, students must have a valid student visa (visa subclass 573 and 574). From 2012 Universities have been given the opportunity to opt-in to Streamlined Visa Processing arrangements. This allows eligible student visa applicants from participating universities to be assessed at a lower immigration risk irrespective of their country of origin. To date all Universities Australia members have opted in to this arrangement.

Australian Universities are committed to meeting their obligation under the various legislative and regulatory instruments designed to protect Australia’s national security interests. The national security regime relevant to universities falls into three broad categories: Defence Trade Controls; Autonomous Sanctions; and Chemical Security. Universities Australia has been working closely with the relevant Government Departments and other stakeholders to ensure the regime reflects an appropriate balance of administrative and compliance burden placed on universities and the necessary controls on transfer of goods and technology.