In April, the Education Services for Overseas Students Legislation Amendment Act 2011 was enacted, resulting in some significant changes to the original ESOS legislation. These amendments have been designed to strengthen Australia’s international education sector and ensure that international students receive a high quality of education. Read on for details on the changes to the ESOS Act and what they mean for your studies in Australia.
Higher quality education
- The amendments to ESOS mean that providers are now scrutinised more thoroughly upon application for Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) registration, particularly those deemed to be a higher ‘risk’ than others. This amendment is designed to prevent ‘high-risk’ providers from entering the sector.
- In 2010, all education providers registered on CRICOS were required to re-register. Now that the re-registration process is complete, students can be assured that all education providers maintain the principal purpose of providing education and that they have clearly demonstrated the capacity to provide a satisfactory standard of education.
- CRICOS registration is now limited to a specific time period (up to a maximum of five years) depending on the level of risk. After this time a thorough review of the provider’s risk and compliance will be conducted.
- To ensure the accountability of education agents, education providers must maintain a list of agents who act on their behalf (both within and outside Australia) in dealing with overseas students. This means that you can check the institution’s website if you are unsure about an agent you are dealing with.
- The government can now place additional restrictions on high-risk providers’ CRICOS registrations, such as additional regular reporting, capping their enrolments and limiting their ability to collect students’ fees in advance.
- Providers can now receive financial penalties for a larger range of behaviours, such as failing to list education agents on their website or failing to provide eligible students with refunds.
- From now on, the government will publish targets and regularly report on all major regulatory activities. Of particular importance to international students is that the government is able to publish details of sanctions imposed against providers.
Easier to make complaints
- The Overseas Student Ombudsman now has the power to investigate any complaints by international students against private providers, ensuring that all students have access to an independent external body. Investigations are at no cost to the student or provider. Click here for details. Complaints about public providers should be directed towards the State or Territory Ombudsman.