Sector alert: Provider responsibilities when using education agents
ASQA has identified international student delivery as one of the Regulatory Risk Priorities for 2022-23 and is working in partnership across government to detect and deter non-genuine providers and safeguard the integrity of the international VET market. ASQA remains alert to collusion, opportunistic or misleading behaviour by providers and their agents.
Providers delivering to overseas students are reminded of their obligations in monitoring the performance of education agents and ensuring that international students are genuine and engaged with learning.
Providers delivering to overseas students are responsible for ensuring that their education agents act ethically, honestly and in the best interest of overseas students and uphold the reputation of Australia’s international education sector.
Providers are also required to monitor student progress throughout a course of study.
These obligations are set out in the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act) and the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (the National Code). Specifically, providers have a responsibility to monitor their affiliated education agents’ activities under Standard 4 of the National Code, which also requires providers to take action where an agent has not complied with their responsibilities.
Under standard 4 of the National Code, registered providers are responsible for ensuring that their education agents act ethically, honestly and in the best interest of overseas students and uphold the reputation of Australia’s international education sector.
Whilst education agents play a significant role in recruiting overseas students for the Australian market, education providers delivering to overseas students are responsible for ensuring that their education agents act ethically, honestly and in the best interest of overseas students and uphold the reputation of Australia’s international education sector.
In particular, providers delivering to overseas students must:
- have a written agreement with each education agent;
- ensure its education agents have knowledge and understanding of the international education system in Australia, including the Australian International Education and Training Agent Code of Ethics;
- not accept students where it suspects the education agent of engaging in dishonest recruitment practices; and
- take immediate corrective action where it believes or becomes aware of an education agent that has not complied with its responsibilities under relevant ESOS and migration legislation.
All providers delivering to overseas students must ensure that:
- Details of education agents they are associated with is published on their website and entered into the Provider Registration and International Student Management System (PRISMS). Non-compliance with these obligations is a strict liability offence.
- Student engagement policies and procedures are in place and followed. This includes monitoring international students’ engagement in learning and their academic progress and taking action where students are at risk.
- Robust oversight is in place for all contracts with education agents. This includes monitoring performance, ensuring students referred by agents are genuine and engaged in learning and taking prompt corrective action in the event or likelihood of misrepresentation or unethical conduct.
- Staff managing relationships with education agents are aware of the responsibilities and obligations incumbent on providers under the ESOS Act and National Code, as well as institutional policies and procedures.
For further information, please refer to our webpage on Education agents.
Under the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 and the ESOS Act, ASQA regulates:
- Providers that deliver VET qualifications and courses
- Providers that deliver VET courses to overseas students
- Accredited VET courses
- Certain providers that deliver English Language Intensive Courses to Overseas Students (ELICOS).
ASQA can apply a range of regulatory tools from education to enforcement, which aim to ensure the provider addresses any non-compliance with their obligations as a Registered Training Organisation. We can refer criminal prosecutions to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) if we have evidence an offence provision has been breached.
ASQA encourages anyone who has intelligence or information about unethical, dishonest or non-genuine arrangements that place students at risk and undermine confidence in quality VET is encouraged to contact ASQA by email email@example.com or phone 1300 701 801.