ESOS providers: Know your obligations when facilitating student transfers

3 December 2021

ASQA monitors concerns about onshore overseas student transfers that may not satisfy educational or industry expectations.

We have identified international student delivery as a regulatory risk priority for ASQA over the 2021-22 financial year. Our focus is on supporting providers to continuously improve and to self-assure their practices in relation to overseas students. This includes marketing, recruitment, and practices for managing education agents.

As part of this we will be reaching out to providers to understand how they engage with and manage education agents. 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.

Advice to ESOS providers

When transferring overseas students between training organisations, remember your obligations towards these students. This includes:

  • ensuring your organisation does not knowingly accept student transfers without waiting the requisite 6 months
  • having policies in place and use 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.

Upholding the National Code for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (National Code) helps to maintain the quality of Australia’s education sector, promote the interests of students, and facilitate positive relationships between providers, students, and education agents.

ASQA’s role in upholding the National Code

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, Skills and Employment (DESE) and sector representatives to monitor evidence of malpractice in onshore transfers 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 DESE Standard 7: Overseas Student Transfers or by contacting us.

Find out more about how we set our Regulatory Risk Priorities on our website.

Relevant sections of the National Code

  • Registered providers are prohibited from knowingly enrolling overseas students wanting to transfer from another registered provider’s course prior to the student completing six months of their principal course (Standard 7).
    Providers need to have a documented policy and process for evaluating overseas student transfer requests prior to the student completing 6 months of their principal course. Reasonable course transfer restrictions are in place to safeguard visa integrity and ensure transfers inside of this time period are in the best interests of the student.
    Standard 7 outlines the requirements for assessing student transfer requests and sets out the circumstances where a release could be granted.
  • Registered providers must ensure their agents act ethically, honestly and in the best interest of the students (Standard 4).
    Providers need to ensure they have established systems in place to manage agents, including education on ethical practices and expectations. Providers should ensure they induct agents appropriately and take necessary action if unethical behaviour is identified. Providers are responsible for the conduct of their agent network, irrespective of where the agents are located.
    Standard 4 clearly outlines registered providers’ obligations if an agent acts unethically or dishonestly
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