ESOS National Code Information for Students and Staff

The National Code is a legislative instrument made under the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 and sets nationally consistent standards to support providers to deliver quality education and training to overseas students.

The National Code 2018 commenced on 1 January 2018. Education providers must comply with the National Code to maintain their registration to provide education services to overseas students.

The following information is a summary of the relevant sections of the ESOS National Code of Practice 2018 (opens in a new window). It provides an overview and orientation to the complex requirements of the Code.

Standard 1: Marketing and Information practices

Standard 1: Marketing and Information Practices (opens in a new window) includes direct reference to Australian Consumer Law. It sets out that registered providers must uphold the integrity and reputation of Australia’s education industry by ensuring the marketing of their courses and services is not false or misleading.

Registered providers must:

  • ensure that the marketing and promotion of its courses and education services is not false or misleading; and
  • include their Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) registered name and registration number in all written and online materials.

Registered providers must not:

  • provide false or misleading information in relation to course requirements when seeking to enter into a written agreement;
  • commit to securing migration or education assessment outcomes for overseas students; and
  • recruit students if it conflicts with its obligations under Standard 7 (Overseas Student Transfers).

Standard 2: Recruitment of an overseas student

Standard 2: Recruitment of an overseas student (opens in a new window)

Registered providers must recruit responsibly and ensure that overseas students are appropriately qualified for the course they are seeking to enrol in. Overseas students must have sufficient information to enable them to make informed decisions about studying with their chosen registered provider.

Registered providers must:

  • make a range of current, comprehensive and plain English information available and easily accessible to assist students in making informed decisions, including on course details, tuition and non-tuition fees;
  • ensure overseas students have sufficient English language proficiency, educational qualifications and/or work experience to enrol in the course; and
  • have a policy and process for assessing and recording recognition of prior learning (RPL), if it intends to assess RPL or grant course credit.

Standard 3: Formalisation of enrolment and written agreements

Standard 3: Formalisation of enrolment and written agreements (opens in a new window)

Obligations and rights of both registered providers and overseas students must be clearly set out in a formal written agreement between the two parties.

Registered providers must:

  • have a written agreement with overseas students or intending overseas students they enrol, which may take any form, as long as it meets the requirements under the National Code and the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000;
  • ensure the written agreement is signed or otherwise accepted by the overseas student, or if they are under 18 years of age, their parent or legal guardian;
  • include information in the written agreement about course details, prerequisites and conditions on enrolment (if applicable), fees, refund and cancellation policies, and the provider’s complaints and appeals processes; and
  • advise overseas students of required information.

Standard 4: Education Agents

Standard 4: Education Agents (opens in a new window)

Education agents are an important part of the international education sector in Australia. Registered providers must ensure 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.

Registered providers must:

  • have a written agreement with each education agent they engage with;
  • enter and maintain education agent details in Provider Registration and International Student Management System (PRISMS);
  • ensure education agents have appropriate knowledge and understanding of the Australian International Education and Training Agent Code of Ethics;
  • ensure education agents act honestly and in good faith;
  • take immediate corrective action, or terminate a relationship if an agent (or an employee or subcontractor) is not complying with the National Code; and
  • not accept overseas students from an education agent if it knows or suspects that the education agent is engaging in unethical recruitment processes.

Standard 5: Younger overseas students

Standard 5: Younger overseas students (opens in a new window)

The Australian Government is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of younger overseas students. This fact Standard contains information on:

  • Requirements for all registered providers
  • Welfare arrangements approved by the Department of Home Affairs
  • When a registered provider takes responsibility for the overseas student’s welfare
  • Acceptable welfare arrangements
  • Monitoring welfare arrangements
  • Transferring between registered providers
  • Disruption to welfare arrangements
  • Suspension or cancellation of enrolment
  • Terminating a registered provider’s responsibility for welfare arrangements
  • After an overseas student turns 18

All registered providers who enrol overseas students under the age of 18 must meet certain obligations. They must:

  • meet Commonwealth, state or territory legal requirements relating to child welfare and protection; and
  • give younger overseas students important age and culturally appropriate safety information, including what to do and who to contact in an emergency, and how to report any incident or allegation of sexual, physical or other abuse.

If an overseas student is under the age of 18, the student’s welfare must be maintained for the duration of their stay in Australia as a student visa condition. To maintain welfare, overseas students can either:

  • stay in Australia with a ‘nominated guardian’ approved by the Department of Home Affairs, who can be the overseas student’s parent, person who has legal custody, or an eligible relative who is aged over 21 and is of good character; or
  • stay in accommodation, support and general welfare arrangements that have been approved by the overseas student’s registered provider. In this case, the registered provider will issue a Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare (CAAW) letter.

Registered providers taking responsibility for the welfare of overseas students under the age of 18 must ensure that the overseas student is in living arrangements which are safe and adequately meet their needs. Registered providers must take all practical steps to ensure welfare is maintained at all times, regardless of the overseas student’s study circumstances. They must also:

  • ensure any adults involved in providing overseas student accommodation or welfare arrangements have Working with Children Checks (WWCC) appropriate to the jurisdiction in which the provider operates and the accommodation is situated;
  • regularly verify that overseas student accommodation is appropriate to the student’s age and physical needs;
  • notify the police and any other relevant agencies as soon as practicable if unable to contact an overseas student and there are concerns for the overseas student’s welfare;
  • report through Provider Registration and International Student Management System (PRISMS) if the registered provider is no longer able to take responsibility for the overseas student’s welfare;
  • make all efforts to contact a younger overseas student’s parent or legal custodian immediately if they can no longer approve the overseas student’s welfare.

See the University's Admissions and Welfare (International Students Under 18 Years) Procedures.

Standard 6: Overseas student support services

Standard 6: Overseas student support services (opens in a new window)

Overseas students require certain support services as they are living and studying in an unfamiliar environment. Registered providers are responsible for providing access to certain services to ensure the mental and physical wellbeing of their overseas students.

Registered providers must:

  • give overseas students information on, or access to, an orientation program about living and studying in Australia, including information about safety on campus and while living in Australia;
  • offer reasonable support to overseas students, irrespective of their place or mode of study, at no additional cost to the overseas student;
  • have a critical incident management policy; and
  • ensure there are sufficient staff, in addition to academic staff, to support and advise overseas students who request assistance.

The University’s student support services information is located at the Services and facilities for current students webpages.

See also International student support.

Standard 7: Overseas student transfers

Standard 7: Overseas student transfers (opens in a new window)

Registered providers must not knowingly enrol an overseas student wishing to transfer from another registered provider’s course prior to the overseas student completing six months of their principal course of study, except in certain circumstances. For the school sector, a transfer cannot happen until after the first six months of the first registered school sector course.

As the principal course of study is generally the final course of study covered by the overseas student’s visa, transfer requirements apply to all courses of study prior to the overseas student’s principal course. When considering a request from an overseas student seeking to transfer, registered providers must:

  • have and implement a documented policy and process for assessing overseas student transfer requests during the restriction period;
  • outline in their policy the circumstances where transfers will be granted or refused;
  • record all transfer request outcomes in the Provider Registration International Student Management System (PRISMS), where a ‘How To’ guide is available;
  • not finalise a refusal to release the overseas student until the student has had an opportunity to access the complaints and appeals process; and
  • ensure where the request concerns an overseas student under the age of 18, the overseas student’s parent or legal guardian has provided support for the transfer in writing.

Please see the University’s International Student Transfer Procedures for detailed information about this Standard.

Standard 8: Overseas student visa requirements

Standard 8: Overseas student visa requirements (opens in a new window)

Overseas students must make satisfactory course progress and, where applicable, attendance as a condition of their student visa.

Registered providers must:

  • monitor the overseas student’s course progress and attendance according to the requirements of their sector
  • identify and offer support to those at risk of not meeting course progress or attendance requirements
  • only extend the duration of an overseas student’s enrolment in certain circumstances and advise them of potential impacts on their student visa
  • only deliver online learning in accordance with the online learning requirements for their sector.

The Western Sydney University International Student Intervention Strategy pages provide an outline of how academic progress and study load are monitored.

Other relevant University webpages are Progression and Visa information.

Standard 9: Deferring, suspending or cancelling the overseas student's enrolment

Standard 9: Deferring, suspending or cancelling the overseas student's enrolment (opens in a new window)

An overseas student’s enrolment can be deferred, suspended or cancelled. This may be initiated by either the overseas student for compassionate and compelling circumstances, or the registered provider for an overseas student’s breach of visa conditions, failure to pay fees, misbehaviour, or other condition listed in a registered provider’s policy.

Registered providers must manage the enrolment of overseas students and maintain up-to-date enrolment information in the Provider Registration and International Student Management System (PRISMS) database.

Registered providers must:

  • have a documented process for assessing, approving and recording a deferment, suspension or cancellation of study
  • notify the overseas student in writing of the intention to suspend or cancel their enrolment
  • tell the overseas student to seek advice from the Department of Home Affairs on the potential impact on their visa if enrolment has been deferred, suspended or cancelled
  • not let a suspension or cancellation take effect until the overseas student has been given a chance to complete an internal appeals process, unless their health or wellbeing, or the wellbeing of others, is likely to be at risk.

Standard 10: Complaints and appeals

Standard 10: Complaints and appeals (opens in a new window)

Registered providers need to have an internal complaints handling and appeals process in place. Professional, timely, inexpensive and documented complaints handling and appeals processes ensure that grievances between overseas students and registered providers can be heard and addressed.

Registered providers must:

  • have and implement a documented internal complaints handling and appeals policy and process;
  • advise an overseas student within 10 working days of their right to access an external appeals process and provide contact details, if the overseas student is not satisfied with the outcome of the internal complaints and appeals process; and
  • immediately implement any decision or recommendation in favour of the overseas student through the internal or external appeals process.

Western Sydney University Complaints Management and Resolution.

Standard 11: Additional requirements

Standard 11: Additional requirements (opens in a new window)

Registered providers must meet the requirements for Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) registration. Only full-time courses can be registered on CRICOS. Registered providers must also ensure the ESOS agency approves and has up-to-date information on specific aspects of the registered provider’s operations and any registered courses.

Registered providers must:

  • seek approval from the ESOS agency or designated State authority to register only a full-time course;
  • submit any proposed changes to the registration of courses to its ESOS agency for approval at least 30 days prior to the date the changes will commence; and
  • undertake an independent external audit during their period of CRICOS registration to inform their re-registration, if they are a self-accrediting registered provider.

The ESOS Agency for universities is TEQSA (opens in a new window).

Managing the National Code across entities and Partners

The ESOS Advisory Group has established operational level roles and responsibilities for the controlled or related entities. The following document maps those roles and responsibilities across the University, The College, International College and the Sydney City Campus. The roles and responsibilities are reviewed annually or as organisational changes occur. Staff login required.

Combined mapping of ESOS responsibilities as of 05 August 2019 (XLSX, 133.86 KB) (opens in a new window).

Contact Details

Students and staff can contact the Western Sydney University’s Executive Governance Officer responsible for ESOS for further information or explanation.