Commonwealth Ombudsman Issues Paper

24 November 2022

On 9 November 2022, the Commonwealth Ombudsman released an issues paper titled Improving Fairness in Written Agreements Between International Students and Australian Education Providers. This paper reports on trends in complaints and broader issues in international education. It raises a number of concerns with the language and contractual terms being used by providers in their written agreements.

This paper highlights a number of important obligations for providers in complying with the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (the National Code) and the Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015.

We encourage all ESOS and ELICOS registered providers to review this issues paper and assure themselves they are meeting their regulatory obligations, including that:

  • written agreements use plain English language in accordance with clauses 3.3 and 3.4.4 of the National Code

  • refunds terms and conditions do not contain any unfair contractual terms that would be in breach of Australia’s consumer law provisions.

It is timely for providers to undertake this review, given the recent passing in Australian parliament of the Treasury Laws Amendment (More Competition, Better Prices) Bill 2022, which introduces penalties into Australian Consumer Law for use of unfair contract terms in standard form consumer contracts like written agreements between education providers and international students.

Learn more about your ESOS registration obligations on our webpages:

More information can also be accessed on the ACCC and Commonwealth Ombudsman websites.

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