ESOS Compliance Commitment - Policy

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1. Purpose and Objectives

The Education Services for Overseas Students Act (ESOS Act) 2000 and the National Code 2007 govern the protection of international students and delivery of courses to those students by providers registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS).

The National Code is a legislative instrument working with the ESOS Act that articulates a set of nationally consistent standards for educational providers in order to protect the rights of international fee-paying students studying in Australia. Under the ESOS Act, the University is legally required to comply with the standards and requirements of the National Code. There are regulated reporting requirements on universities and other providers. Each year the University is required to submit “A Declaration of Compliance” to the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) certifying that it is compliant with all the requirements of the ESOS legislation. If the University fails to comply with any aspect of the legislation, specific sanctions may be applied, including loss of CRICOS registration and therefore cancellation of its rights to recruit international students.

The purpose of this policy is to articulate the University’s commitment to achieving full compliance with the ESOS legislative requirements in order to maintain its registration on the CRICOS.

This policy sets out the basis upon which the University is able to coordinate the relevant processes and procedures in line with that commitment.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

CRICOS - Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students

ESOS Act – Education Services for Overseas Students Act (2000)

National Code - National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students (National Code 2007)

TEQSATertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency

3. Policy Scope/Coverage

The ESOS Act only applies to international students who are studying at UQ in Australia on a student visa.

It does not apply to students studying in offshore locations.

All University staff involved in the recruitment, administration and support of international students studying at UQ within Australia on a student visa, including staff in the Faculties and central administrative units, must comply with the policy. Similarly, the ESOS legislation has an impact on the rights and responsibilities of international students studying in Australia, about which the University has an obligation to inform them.

The ESOS Act places responsibility on the University not only for its own actions but also for the actions of third parties. Providers are responsible under the Act for the actions of agents and associates and this includes their "commercial arms" and "partners."

4. Policy Statement

UQ is committed to achieving full compliance with the ESOS legislative requirements, which are designed to safeguard the interests of international students studying in Australia. The ESOS Act regulates the education sector’s involvement with international students, protects and enhances Australia’s reputation for quality education and provides tuition protection for international students.

ESOS compliance is a University-wide responsibility and commitment of all staff. Each staff member is responsible for understanding their obligations under the ESOS Act, and must ensure that they comply with the legislation and work in accordance with this policy statement and all supporting procedures that serve to fulfill the University’s obligations under the ESOS Act. This responsibility includes each staff member ensuring that they are familiar with the specific reporting obligations that relate to their position, whether internal reporting for the purposes of detecting potential or actual risk in relation to compliance, or external reporting as may be required under the legislation.

The University strives to provide clear and consistent support and advice to the UQ community concerning its ESOS obligations and compliance mechanisms.

Standard 11 of the National Code does not apply because higher education providers (universities) are not required to monitor the attendance of international students.

Academic Registrar
Mr Mark Erickson


ESOS Compliance Commitment - Procedures

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1. Purpose and Objectives

These procedures enact 3.30.13 ESOS Compliance Commitment - Policy and provide the processes which must be followed to meet the requirements of the fifteen Standards of the National Code with which the University must comply.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

CRICOS - Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students

ESOS Act – Education Services for Overseas Students Act (2000)

National Code - National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students (National Code 2007)

TEQSATertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency

3. Procedures Scope/Coverage

These procedures apply to international student administration at The University of Queensland.

4. Procedures Statement

Faculties, schools and central administrative units are required to ensure that compliance with the fifteen Standards is demonstrated through adherence to relevant business processes across an international student’s career at the University including:

  • Pre-enrolment engagement of students (Standards 1 to 4)
  • Care for and services to students (Standards 5 to 6)
  • Students as consumers (Standards 7 to 8)
  • The Student Visa Programme (Standards 9 to 13)
  • Staff, educational resources and premises (Standards 14 to 15)

Details of each standard, and the required action by the University, are set out below. 

Annual training on ESOS, the National Code and responsibilities under this legislation, is offered through the university staff development program.

5. University Responsibilities

5.1  Standard 1 – Marketing information and practices

The National Code specifies that “marketing practices of registered providers must uphold the reputation of Australia’s international education and training and be undertaken in a professional manner”.  Specific requirements include the requirement to not give false and misleading information or advice on: (i) claims of association between providers; (ii) employment outcomes associated with the program; (iii) automatic acceptance into another program; (iv) possible migration outcomes; and (v) any other claims relating to the registered provider, its program or outcomes associated with the program.

Promotional materials for international students are produced by a range of units across the University. All promotional materials for international students must clearly state the university name and CRICOS Provider Number (00025B). Promotional materials include: written materials such as student guides; advertisements; postcards; posters; flyers; brochures; event display stands and banners; and electronic materials such as emails and websites.

Only programs that are CRICOS registered can appear in promotional materials.

International Marketing and Recruitment within UQ International provides training and advice on marketing to international students.

Refer to the Explanatory Guide to the National Code for information on these requirements, including those for listing the provider number (00025B) on marketing information, communications to students and websites.

5.2  Standard 2 – Student engagement before enrolment

Students must be able to make informed decisions about studying at UQ.  This includes the requirement to ensure that the student’s qualifications, experience and English language proficiency requirements are appropriate for the program for which enrolment is sought.  This responsibility rests with:

  • International Admissions Section for undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students;
  • Graduate School for Research and Higher Degree Students; and
  • International Marketing and Recruitment for incoming international study-abroad and exchange students.

PPL 3.40.14b English Language Proficiency Admission and Concurrent Support Procedures sets out the minimum English language proficiency requirements for UQ’s programs including the English proficiency standards table which lists programs with higher IELTS requirements approved by Academic Board.

The Programs and Plans database contains fields which enable faculties to list entry requirements, including specific qualifications and work experience, as well as higher English language proficiency requirements. The database also holds information on program content (program outline), program duration, qualification offered, program location/s, modes of study, indicative fees and any arrangements with other providers. Faculties are responsible for ensuring the data in these fields is accurate and up to date.  These fields are displayed on the Courses and Programs website and in information for prospective students. 

The University’s hard copy prospectuses (UQ Guides), as well as the electronic International Students web page, provides advice and information required under this standard including: campus locations; a general description of facilities, equipment and learning and library resources available to students; relevant information on living in Australia; a description of the ESOS Framework; and information on grounds on which the student’s enrolment may be deferred, suspended or cancelled.

International Marketing and Recruitment, in conjunction with the Office of Marketing and Communication, produces a checklist for University staff to use to ensure materials prepared for prospective students comply with this standard of the National Code.

Indicative course–related fees and the University’s refund policies are documented in PPL 9.30.02b Student Fees and Charges and PPL 3.40.03b International Student Refunds.

5.3  Standard 3 – Formalisation of enrolment

Standard 3 requires the provision of certain information to a student either concurrently with, or prior to, accepting any program payment from the student. This information is listed in the Conditional Offer of Enrolment and/or in the Agreement and Response to Offer (ARO), both of which are issued by:

  • International Admissions Section - to international undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students;
  • Graduate School - to international Research and Higher Degree Students; and
  • International Marketing and Recruitment - to incoming international study abroad and exchange students.

Students are required to sign the ARO which will specify all requirements for compliance under this standard of the National Code.

Information about refunds and tuition fees is documented in the Tuition Fee Advice for International Students and PPL 3.40.03b International Student Refunds which is documented in the University Prospectuses, on the University International homepage as well as sent to prospective students with the letter of offer.

In addition to students agreeing to inform the University via the ARO of any change of address, the Student Center will email continuing students each semester, advising them to ensure their address details are up to date.

5.4  Standard 4 – Education agents

Standard 4 requires the University to take all reasonable measures to ensure its agents have appropriate knowledge and understanding of the Australian international education industry and do not use agents who are dishonest or lack integrity.

International Marketing and Recruitment is responsible for entering into agreements with agents providing agent training and monitoring their performance.

5.5  Standard 5 – Younger students

UQ does not offer guardianship arrangements for international students under 18 years of age.  Where an applicant is under 18 years of age, the application to study at UQ and the ARO must be signed by the applicant’s guardian.  It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure they have suitable guardianship arrangements in place, for example, that they will be in the care of a parent or suitably nominated relative.

Residential colleges on the University campus may offer guardianship.  However, it should be noted that these are separate entities to the University, and therefore the University takes no responsibility for this provision. 

5.6  Standard 6 – Student support services

UQ must provide information to commencing students on the following matters in an ‘age and culturally sensitive orientation program’, as well as on key websites (e.g. myAdvisor, Programs and Courses):

Faculties, schools and other units that enrol students will provide opportunities for students to participate in services or provide access to services designed to assist students to meet program requirements at no additional cost (e.g. academic advising, development of study plans, and/or referral to Student Services for learning assistance).

Faculties, schools and central administrative units must keep themselves informed of UQ’s obligations under the ESOS Framework and the implications for students arising out of the exercise of these obligations. UQ International, in collaboration with TEDI, will provide training opportunities to the wider University community for ESOS Compliance through the year.

5.7  Standard 7 – Transfer between registered providers

Students cannot transfer from UQ to another provider or transfer to UQ from another provider prior to completing 6 months’ of study at the original provider except where:

  • the original provider has ceased to be registered or the program in which the student is enrolled has ceased to be registered;
  • the original provider has issued a written letter of release;
  • the original provider has a sanction imposed on it which prevents the student from continuing in the program; or
  • any government sponsor of the students considers the change to be in the student’s best interest and has provided written support for the change.

The Queensland State Government has previously required that all Queensland institutions provide a letter of release for students who request that release and are able to produce a letter of offer from another institution. The University continues to follow that convention in order to facilitate student requests to transfer to another institution.

The following units are responsible for managing student requests to transfer to another provider.

  • International Admissions Section - for undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students.
  • Graduate School - for Research and Higher Degree Students.
  • International Marketing and Recruitment - for incoming international study abroad and exchange students.

A copy of the student’s request for release (withdrawal from a program) and the letter of release are placed on the student’s file.

5.8  Standard 8 – Complaints and appeals

The University’s PPL 3.60.02a Student Grievance Resolution - Policy  is compliant with the National Code.  This includes reference to an independent, external arbiter outside of the University. 

5.9  Standard 9 – Completion within the expected duration of study

The program duration is recorded in the Programs and Plans database when approval is granted to offer a program.  The student visa is given for that duration less any time applicable because of the granting of transfer credit (i.e. the normal time required to meet program requirements). The government recognises that students may not always be able to complete the program and provides for extensions to visa in a limited range of circumstances.

The University has documented policies and procedures to monitor the progress of each student to ensure that at all times the student is in a position to complete the program within the duration of their student visa (see Section 5.10 below). 

The University must:

  • ensure that, in each semester, international students on a student visa are studying at least one unit that is not by distance or online learning;
  • ensure that international students on a student visa undertake no more than 25% of the entire program by distance or online learning;
  • only extend the duration of the student’s study where it is clear that a student will not complete the course within the expected duration of the student visa as a result of (i) compassionate or compelling circumstances; (ii) the registered provider was implementing its intervention strategy for students who were at risk of not meeting satisfactory progress (see Section 6 below); (iii) an approved deferment or suspension of study has been granted under Standard 13 (see Section 5.13 below); and
  • report students who complete program requirements earlier than set out in the student’s Confirmation of Enrolment.

Faculties must:

  • ensure the courses listed in the course catalogue are configured appropriately to identify courses offered by distance or online learning; and
  • ensure that relevant information about intervention strategies is placed on the student’s file in Records and Archives Management Services. 

The Visa Officer in the Student Centre arranges for an extension to the student visa on advice from the faculty.

5.10  Standard 10 – Monitoring course progress

Standard 10 of the National Code specifies that the University must systematically monitor students’ progress. This means that:

  • the progress of each student is monitored, recorded and assessed;
  • the provider must have documented program progression policies and procedures;
  • the provider assesses each student at the end of each semester according to its program progression policy;
  • the provider has an intervention strategy that identifies and assists students who are at risk of not making satisfactory progress; and
  • where a provider has assessed the student as not meeting satisfactory progress, the provider informs the student in writing of its intention to report the student and that he/she is able to access the provider’s complaints and appeals process within 20 working days.

The University’s Enrolment and Academic Progression Rules enable compliance with points 1, 2, 3, and 5 above. For the intervention strategy, see Section 6 below.

A number of programs contain rules with specified requirements regarding progression, continuous enrolment, and refusal of re-enrolment (e.g. many programs offered through the Faculty of Health Sciences).  In these cases, faculties are responsible for monitoring progress and advising the Academic Registrar of students who are not maintaining satisfactory progress. Faculties must also ensure that relevant information, particularly in relation to intervention strategies, is placed on the student’s file in Records and Archives Management Services or in comments on SI-net

5.11  Standard 11 – Monitoring attendance

Higher education providers are not required to monitor attendance.

5.12  Standard 12 – Course credit (Transfer credit)

The University’s policy PPL 3.50.03 Credit for Previous Studies and Recognised Prior Learning is compliant with the National Code.

A record of transfer credit is placed on the student’s official academic record (see PPL 3.50.01  Maintenance of Academic Records).  Credit granted prior to the issue of the student’s visa resulting in a reduction in program duration is included in the Confirmation of Enrolment issued to the student.

If an international student is granted credit after the visa is granted, the International Admissions Section reports a change to program duration through Provider Registration and International Student Management System (PRISMS). Faculties consider requests for credit on application from the student. The student signs required documentation to indicate that they accept the credit, and a record is placed on the student’s file in Records and Archives Management Services or a comment is recorded in SI-net.  The Confirmation of Enrolment is amended by International Admissions Section.

5.13  Standard 13 – Deferring, suspending or cancelling the student’s enrolment

The University must have in place documented procedures for assessing, approving and recording deferments (commencement of study), suspension (interruption) or cancellation of study including keeping documentary evidence on the student’s file in Records and Archives Management Services.

Deferment at this University refers to a student delaying the commencement of their program of study.  For international applicants, deferment up to two years may be approved, subject to the applicant maintaining a valid English language proficiency standard and the continued availability of the program.  Where a student has already been issued a Confirmation of Enrolment (COE) and a visa has been issued prior to the student seeking deferment, the change to the student’s commencement details will be amended in the PRISMS to enable adjustments to the visa by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

The University may only defer or suspend the enrolment of an international student on a student visa on the following grounds:

  • compassionate or compelling circumstances; or
  • misconduct.

If the University intends to suspend or cancel a student’s enrolment, the University must notify the student that he/she has 20 working days to access the University’s complaints and appeals process. The suspension or cancellation cannot take effect until the internal process is completed unless extenuating circumstances relating to the welfare of the student apply.

The document ‘National Code 2007 Explanatory Guide’ lists the following examples of ‘compassionate or compelling circumstances’:

  • serious illness or injury, where a medical certificate states that the student was unable to attend classes;
  • bereavement of close family members such as parents or grandparents (where possible a death certificate should be provided);
  • major political upheaval or natural disaster in the home country requiring emergency travel and this has impacted on the student’s studies;
  • a traumatic experience which could include:
  • involvement in, or witnessing of a serious accident;
  • witnessing or being the victim of a serious crime, and this has impacted on the student (these cases should be supported by police or psychologists’ reports);
  • where the registered provider was unable to offer a pre-requisite unit;
  • inability to begin studying on the course commencement date due to delay in receiving a student visa.

The faculty advises the Visa Officer in the Student Centre whether a student’s visa could be extended for compassionate or compelling reasons.  All information is placed on the student’s file in Records and Archives Management Services or noted in SI-net

Misconduct matters resulting in suspension or expulsion follow the procedures outlined in PPL 3.60.04 Student Integrity and Misconduct.

5.14  Standard 14 – Staff capability, educational resources and premises

The University must provide the following:

  • quality assurance framework for its programs including the provision of adequate and capable staffing resources; and
  • adequate education resources, facilities, equipment, learning and library resources.

All new professional and academic staff to the University must complete a compulsory induction expo which includes information about the ESOS Act and the National Code.

The University must notify the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) if it intends to relocate its premises (including its head office and campus locations) at least 20 working days before the relocation.

The Academic Registrar is the responsible officer for notifying TEQSA.

5.15  Standard 15 – Changes to registered providers’ ownership or management

The University must notify TEQSA of any change of ownership or change to a high managerial agent as soon as practicable prior to the change taking effect. A high managerial agent is anyone who is “an employee, agent or officer of the provider with duties of such responsibility that his or her conduct may fairly be assumed to represent the provider in relation to the business of providing courses” (e.g. Vice-Chancellor).

The Academic Registrar is the responsible officer for notifying TEQSA of any change to a high managerial agent.

6. Intervention Strategy

The purpose of this statement is to give effect to Standard 9 above, viz, the need to have a documented intervention strategy which is available to staff and students.  This strategy is activated once a student is warned and/or refused re-enrolment under the Enrolment and Academic Progression Rules.

Faculties must develop intervention strategies. The intervention strategy for a particular student must be provided in writing to the student and placed on the student’s file held by Records and Archives Management Services or noted in comments in SI-net

The strategy may include any or all of the following:

  • attendance at a compulsory interview;
  • attendance at a compulsory seminar;
  • undertake suitable learning skills workshops in Student Services;
  • meet with medical practitioner to discuss health/medical issue;
  • manage employment hours;
  • limit number of units in the following semester/s of study;
  • meet with an advisor to determine remaining program requirements and determine a suitable study plan;
  • meet with an adviser by a specified date regarding progress to date during the semester;
  • register a disability/chronic medical condition with Student Services;
  • successfully complete study at another post-secondary institution and provide the faculty with proof in the form of an official academic transcript from that institution;
  • undertake an English language improvement program.

7. Record Keeping

University policy (PPL 1.60.04 Records Management) requires records of all significant communications and advice to students (e.g. appeals, withdrawal applications, show cause applications, credit applications) to be placed on the student’s file held by Records and Archives Management Services. 

8. Further Information

Students and staff who require further information about these procedures, or the associated policy, should contact the Academic Registrar.

Academic Registrar
Mr Mark Erickson
Academic Registrar
Mr Mark Erickson