Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Framework

ESOS legislation makes sure training providers meet nationally consistent standards in education delivery, facilities and services, and provides tuition fee protection for international students.

ESOS Act

Australia provides rigorous protection for international students through the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act) and related legislation, which protects and enhances Australia’s reputation for quality education, provides tuition protection and supports the integrity of the student visa program. Breaches are treated seriously, and the penalties can be significant.

ESOS Standards for Education Providers

The National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (National Code 2018) sets nationally consistent standards for the delivery of courses to overseas students.

The National Code 2018 commenced on 1 January 2018.

Education institutions must comply with the National Code to maintain their registration to provide education services to international students.

An online training tutorial on the National Code 2018, has been developed by the ISANA International Education Association. The development of this project was supported by the Australian International Education: Enabling Growth and Innovation project fund, Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

The English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) Standards 2018 outline specific quality requirements for registered providers delivering English language courses to overseas students and are in addition to the National Code requirements.

The Foundation Program Standards are designed to equip international students with the skills and capabilities to seek entry into higher education programs in Australia, and must be followed by registered providers delivering Foundation Programs to overseas students.

Provider Registration

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment is responsible for the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). Only education institutions registered under the ESOS Act and listed on CRICOS can enrol overseas students to study in Australia on a student visa.

Tuition Protection Service

The Tuition Protection Service (TPS) is a placement and refund service that helps:

  • International students on student visas affected by a provider closure
  • When students have withdrawn from or not started their course and are eligible for a refund of tuition fees that have not been paid by the provider
  • Provide students with the information they need to choose an alternative course that best suits them through an online placement system
  • Arrange a refund of any pre-paid tuition fees if there is no course that meets their needs

Visit the TPS website for more information. 

International Education Agents Data Project

This Government initiative aims to provide data to institutions on the outcomes achieved by their agents, and to see the majority of agents recognised for their high standards and levels of service.

Schools Compliance

The ESOS agency for Schools*

Under the ESOS legislation, the Secretary of the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, is the ESOS agency for schools. The department endeavours to perform the duties in a fair, transparent, efficient and effective way, consistent with the Regulator Performance Framework.

The ESOS Agency for Schools RPF Report 2019-20 contains the agency's self-assessment results against the Performance Metrics for ESOS Regulator (for schools), developed by the department.

Previous reports are available below:

*Including a small number of dual sector (school and higher education or school and VET) and multi sector (school, higher education and VET) providers.

Vet in schools

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has developed Guiding Principles for VET in schools delivered to overseas students​.

The department expects that when a school offers a VET component which is an integral element of the school’s secondary school certificate, the VET component should be included in the scope of the school provider’s CRICOS registration for the school course. If, however, the course is not contributing to the secondary school qualification, the provider (whether it is the school or another registered training organisation), would need to register the VET component on CRICOS as a VET course, and the course must comply with the ESOS legislation, such as the requirement to be delivered on a full-time basis.

Schools are encouraged to contact the DSA in their jurisdiction to answer questions on the guiding principles.

Information for Students

The Australian Government is committed to ensuring you have an excellent education experience in Australia.

Our fact sheet​​ for international students contains important information about your rights and responsibilities while studying in Australia.

This fact sheet gives you information on:

  • choosing and enrolling in a course of study
  • support services available in Australia
  • the rights and responsibilities of students on a student visa
  • working in Australia
  • making complaints and getting help.

For more information about studying in Australia visit Study in Australia.

ESOS Enquiries

General enquiries: Online: ESOS Online Enquiry Form
Visa enquiries Phone: 131 881 (within Australia)
Online: Department of Home Affairs
PRISMS Help Desk: Email: prisms@dese.gov.au
ARC Hotline: Phone: 1300 793 993 (January–April each year within Australia)
Email: esosarcmailbox@dese.gov.au