How to respond to temporary changes in visa conditions for international students
ASQA is working to support the VET and ELICOS sectors during the temporary relaxation of work limits for international students recently announced by the Australian Government. The temporary measures aim to:
- help alleviate current workforce shortages
- enable international students to work before their course commences
- allow international students to work more than 40 hours a fortnight.
Understand your regulatory obligations
Our role is to ensure delivery of quality VET and the integrity of national qualifications issued by training providers. We acknowledge the policy imperative in addressing the workforce shortages, highlighting that this might introduce more considerations for students to balance work and study. Close monitoring is essential to avoid the risk of poor course completion to maintain quality VET outcomes. In addition, we encourage providers to find ways to optimise opportunities for student success and achievement through enrolment and attendance.
Our regulatory focus on international student delivery
Providers should note that ASQA’s annual risk priorities for 2021-22 include a focus on international student delivery. We are closely monitoring VET and ELICOS providers to ensure students receive quality outcomes, particularly in the context of COVID-19.
The following guidance aims to assist training providers understand regulatory responsibilities resulting from the temporary change in work limits:
1. Monitor student deferments
Student deferments are a red flag for providers to monitor. We note that there may be a proportion of international students that may be impacted due to any relevant public health orders and/or state border closures, which may result in increased deferments. There may need to be flexibility in regard to how deferrals are managed, but providers are reminded to actively monitor for deferments.
2. Satisfactory course requirements need to be maintained
Students need to continue to balance their work and study commitments despite the increased allowance of work hours. Student visa holders who cancel their enrolment and stop attending classes, or fail to meet satisfactory course progress, may be in breach of their visa conditions. While providers may need to wait for up to 6 months before reporting students who are not meeting course progress or attendance, vigilance is required to identify whether course requirements are being met.
- Be vigilant in monitoring that students maintain satisfactory attendance and course progress using methods such as tracking participation in class, assignments being submitted on time and general performance of the student.
- Monitor student deferments and maintain flexibility as to how deferrals are managed.
- Highlight with students the challenges of balancing work and study when working increased hours.
- Support students to manage their time appropriately and self-monitor their ability to balance their commitments, noting that many students may not have experience in working increased hours alongside study.
We will continue to work closely with the sector during this time to monitor progress, risks and issues. We are also working with the Department of Home Affairs, Department of Education, Skills and Employment, and Tertiary Education Quality and Skills Authority to ensure a consistent approach to support providers and students.