Consultation on amendments to the ESOS Act

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment is proposing amendments to the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act) that will improve the regulation of supplementary courses and allow charges collected under the ESOS Act to be refunded in special circumstances.

Improving regulation of supplementary courses for overseas students

The ESOS Act and its associated legislative framework provide important protections to overseas students studying in Australia as well as supporting the integrity of the student visa system.

However, the regulatory requirements may be less necessary for certain types of ‘supplementary’ study, where an overseas student already studying a course in Australia wishes to undertake extra study outside of their substantive program. For example, students seeking to work in the hospitality, construction, retail and healthcare sectors require specific qualifications including first aid and barista courses, responsible service of alcohol, hygienic food preparation or white cards.

To make it easier for overseas students to study supplementary courses, and for education providers to offer to them, the department is proposing to:

  1. Narrow the definition of “course” in the ESOS Act to exclude supplementary courses from the need to be registered on CRICOS;
  2. Give the Minister responsible for international education the power to make exemptions for certain courses from the ESOS Act requirements. 

The department’s paper outlining the framework for the proposed changes and the legislative amendments required to give them effect can be found here?.?

Enabling CRICOS registration charges to be refunded

Education providers pay charges to be registered on the Commonwealth Register of Courses and Institutions for Overseas Students (CRICOS) and to deliver courses to overseas students. Currently, there is no legislative authority under the ESOS Act and its associate framework to refund these charges.

To allow flexible sector responses in the future, the department is proposing to amend the ESOS Act to allow charges collected under the Act to be refunded under special circumstances.

The department’s fact sheet on the proposed changes can be found here.