ESOS Return to Compliance for face to face training
Return to compliance
In March 2020, ASQA and TEQSA announced temporary flexibility in regulatory arrangements regarding ESOS course delivery requirements to overseas students, being holders of a student visa.
Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, ASQA and TEQSA advised they were easing some obligations across the ESOS framework which require students to attend face-to-face learning at approved locations, thereby enabling providers to continue delivering courses online or through distance learning to overseas students whether already in Australia or still offshore.
On 19th October 2022, ASQA and TEQSA announced that this flexibility is ending and providers delivering courses to overseas students will be required to return to compliance with face to face delivery requirements in the National Code 2018 and the ELICOS Standards 2018 by 30 June 2023, where it is safe and practical to do so. This is in response to international borders re-opening and overseas students once again able to travel to Australia for study.
How should providers return to compliance?
ASQA expects ESOS providers to actively transition their modes of delivery and student support services over this transition period to ensure they have returned to compliance by 30 June 2023, where it is safe and practical to do so.
Providers are expected to demonstrate effective self-assurance in planning and implementing a return to compliance. Providers should plan for a transition that identifies, assesses, and monitors risks for affected student groups.
Over coming months, ASQA will be monitoring providers’ actions and may request information about a provider’s return to compliance strategy and implementation, including evidence relating to transition plans, decision-making and communication with students.
‘Safe and practical’
ASQA acknowledges that public health risks are of high concern nationally and will be flexible and responsive to any new government public announcements.
ASQA expects providers to support the safety of their students during this transition by taking a mature and considered approach to determining what is ‘safe and practical’ for various student cohorts. These decisions must be rational, based on evidence, and recorded.
When considering what is ‘safe and practical’ for returning to compliance, ASQA does not regard the following examples as relevant matters:
- broader demands of the international student's market
- matters of convenience to the student or the provider
After 30 June 2023, registered providers delivering Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses to overseas students must:
- have and implement documented policies and processes to identify, notify and assist an overseas student at risk of not meeting course progress or attendance requirements (Standard 8.4 of the National Code)
- have and implement a documented policy and process for assessing course progress for a VET course as defined in the NVETR Act (Standard 8.9 of the National Code)
- not deliver more than one-third of the units of a course by online or distance learning (Standard 8.19 of the National Code)
- ensure that in each compulsory study period for a course, students study at least one unit that is not by distance or online learning, unless the student is completing the last unit of their course (Standard 8.20 of the National Code).
After 30 June 2023, registered providers when delivering English Language Intensive Courses to Overseas Students (ELICOS) must:
- schedule a minimum of 20 hours face-to-face course contact per week (Standard P1.1 of the ELICOS Standards)
- have and implement documented policies and processes for monitoring and recording course progression and attendance requirements for overseas students (Standards 8.6 and 8.7 of the National Code)
- implement policies for maintaining a minimum of 80% structured course attendance (Standard 8.6.1 of the National Code)
- only schedule online or distance learning in addition to the approved face-to-face learning schedule (Standard 8.21 of the National Code)
If you have any questions, please contact ASQA via phone on 1300 701 801 between 9am to 7pm (AEDT) Monday to Friday or you can complete our online form.
- ASQA participated in the English Australia webinar focused on return to compliance on 1 December 2022. The discussion between ASQA, TEQSA and Department of Education representatives provides further advice to providers on the regulators’ expectations during the transition period. While this webinar focuses specifically on ELICOS, similar requirements and expectations also apply for providers of VET courses. English Australia - Return to Compliance Webinar
- On 20 January 2023 ASQA published the Strategic Review of Online Learning which provides insights into the state of the sector during the COVID-19 pandemic as providers shifted delivery modes to online learning. Strategic Review of Online Learning – Report
- In 2022 the (former) Department of Education, Skills and Employment released a discussion paper on the review of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) legislative framework.