Legislation and regulation
Australia’s international university sector operates under a framework of government laws and regulations.
This includes national standards to govern the delivery of international education, as well as rules around international visas.
These laws help guarantee Australian universities’ already strong commitment to quality and support the ongoing viability of international education and research in Australia.
Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act)
The ESOS Act provides a legal framework to govern the delivery of education to overseas students on a student visa in Australia.
The ESOS Act governs:
- the registration process and obligations of registered providers;
- the Tuition Protection Service; and
- enforcement and compliance powers.
The ESOS Framework is a primary facet of Australia’s reputation for quality international education.
It is also a strong and comprehensive set of legislative instruments that assist in determining a range of issues, such as:
- the portion of unspent pre-paid fees in the event of a provider default or if a student is unable to obtain a visa;
- the notice a provider must give in the event of a provider or student default; and
- the criteria to be applied in considering if a course is a ‘suitable alternative course’.
The Tuition Protection Service was introduced in 2012 as a mechanism to further strengthen the protections offered to students through the ESOS Act.
Information provided to the Government under the ESOS ACT is managed through a central system, the Provider Registration and International Students Management System (PRISMS).
National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018
The National Code 2018 is a set of national standards that support the delivery of high quality international education and ensure the protection of overseas students enrolled at providers registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS).
The National Code 2018 is a legislative instrument, legally enforceable under the ESOS Act.
The National Code 2018 has 11 standards and is divided into two parts:
- Part A provides an overview of the Australian international education sector and the ESOS framework, as well as a summary of the National Code 2018.
- Part B provides details of the 11 standards that providers must meet in their engagements with international students.
National Strategy for International Education 2025
In 2016, the Australian Government released the National Strategy for International Education 2025—a 10-year plan to enhance and develop Australia’s international education sector. The strategy aims to firmly maintain Australia’s position as a global leader in education, training and research.
The key themes of the national strategy include:
- partnerships and consortia;
- borderless education;
- benefits of international education;
- improved international education research; and
The Council for International Education is currently developing a new strategy for the sector, to be released mid-2021.