Obligations when facilitating student transfers
View the eDM that was distributed to providers here.
Standard 7 of the National Code outlines the requirements for assessing student transfer requests and sets out the circumstances where a release could be granted.
ASQA monitors concerns about onshore overseas student transfers and concurrent enrolments that may not satisfy educational or industry expectations. Our focus is on supporting providers to continuously improve and to self-assure their practices in relation to overseas students. Our aim is to be able to offer fit-for-purpose education and support to help providers implement appropriate processes to meet their legislative requirements.
This guidance is designed to assist providers registered under the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act) to understand their obligations when facilitating student transfers.
Regulatory obligations relating to student transfers are outlined in Standard 7 of the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (National Code).
Registered providers have certain obligations to meet when facilitating student transfers and accepting students from other providers.
When transferring overseas students between registered training organisations and/or higher education providers, there are specific obligations you have towards these students. This includes:
- ensuring your organisation does not knowingly enrol a student without waiting the requisite six months, unless permitted under Standard 7.
- having policies and processes in place and using professional judgement to assess and grant student transfers where the student’s request is reasonable, particularly in compassionate or compelling circumstances.
- ensuring that education agents you work with act ethically, honestly and in students' best interests.
Provider policy and process
A registered provider needs to have a documented and implemented policy and process for assessing overseas student transfer requests prior to the student completing six (calendar) months of their principal course.
Reasonable course transfer restrictions are in place to safeguard visa integrity and ensure transfers within this time period are in the best interests of the student.
Your policy for assessing transfer requests must be available to staff and students and outline:
- the process an overseas student must take to lodge a written request to transfer, including evidentiary requirements and that the overseas student must have a valid enrolment offer from another registered provider
- circumstances considered to be reasonable grounds in granting and refusing transfer requests, and
- a reasonable timeframe for assessing and replying to the overseas student's transfer request.
Transferring before six months of principal course
If an overseas student has not yet completed six (calendar) months of their principal course, they may not be permitted to transfer between registered providers.
Providers must not knowingly enrol a student prior to completing six months of their principal course, unless the overseas student has obtained a release from their original provider, or meet one of the following conditions:
- the releasing registered provider, or the course in which the overseas student is enrolled, has ceased to be registered
- the releasing registered provider has had a sanction imposed on its registration by the ESOS agency that prevents the overseas student from continuing his or her course at that registered provider
- any government sponsor of the overseas student considers the change to be in the overseas student’s best interests and has provided written support for the change.
After completing six months of their principal course, an overseas student can transfer without needing to meet one of these conditions.
The Department of Education has removed the concurrent study functionality from the Provider Registration and International Student Management System (PRISMS): Concurrent studies update.
Standard 7 of the National Code restricts student transfers in the first 6 months of their primary course of study. This provision protects the interests of both providers and students.
Providers will not be able to concurrently enrol students who have not completed 6 months of their principal course.
This change does not impact students already holding concurrent enrolments. Providers must continue to monitor students with concurrent enrolment to ensure:
- the student can maintain their attendance in both courses
- the student can progress and complete both courses in the duration of their CoE.
Original provider may grant a release
If an overseas student has not yet completed six (calendar) months of their principal course and does not meet one of the conditions listed above, they require a release from their original provider.
If a student is enrolled in a package of courses (eg. ELICOS, Certificate III with Diploma being the principal course) each provider that will be affected by the transfer must assess the request for release in accordance with its policy.
When a provider releases a student from their transfer restricted enrolment, it allows a new provider to enrol the student without breaching Standard 7.
A provider must:
- not charge the student for approving the release
- maintain records of requests for release and the process used to make a decision in relation to the request
- record all transfer request outcomes in PRISMS
- not formally enrol a student until they have been released from their principal course.
Students under 18 years of age
If you enrol students under the age of 18, a parent or legal guardian must provide support for the transfer in writing.
If the student is not being cared for in Australia by a parent or legal guardian, the receiving provider must also confirm in their valid enrolment offer that it accepts responsibility for the student’s accommodation and welfare arrangements in accordance with Standard 5: Younger overseas students.
Making a decision – what is reasonable?
Your policy for assessing transfer requests must detail the circumstances in which you will grant the transfer request where it’s in the overseas student’s best interests, including but not limited to those specified in Standard 220.127.116.11 to 18.104.22.168.
In making a reasonable and justifiable decision, the decision maker should take into account a number of factors, including:
- how the student is progressing in the course
- the individual circumstances of the student and how they will impact their ability to progress and their wellbeing
- how the registered provider is supporting the student, and
- any other policy factors, such as transferring to a different sector or AQF level, any monies owed by the student etc.
In refusing a transfer request, you must provide the student in writing the reasons for refusal, including the factors taken into consideration in making the decision and inform the student of their right to appeal the decision in accordance with Standard 10: Complaints and appeals.
How to record transfer request outcomes in PRISMS
The Department of Education has published guidance on How to Manage Student Transfers in PRISMS.
ASQA’s role in upholding the National Code
Upholding the National Code for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (National Code) is essential to the quality of Australia’s education sector, promote the interests of students, and facilitate positive relationships between providers, students, and education agents.
ASQA uses a risk-based approach to determine the most significant risks to the VET and ELICOS sectors.
We work in partnership with the Department of Education and sector representatives to monitor evidence of malpractice in onshore transfers and concurrent enrolment practices and will take regulatory action as appropriate where we find instances of non-compliance. This will safeguard the quality of VET delivery to this cohort of students.
Further information regarding provider obligations towards overseas students is available from the Department of Education Standard 7: Overseas Student Transfers.