International students

The Tuition Protection Service (TPS) assists international students whose education providers are unable to fully deliver their course of study.

On this page:

Closures and defaults

Australia has an excellent reputation for quality education. However, sometimes an education provider may close altogether, fail to start a course that students are enrolled in or stop offering it part-way through. Closing, failing to start, or stopping a course part way through is called a default.

If your education provider defaults, the TPS may be able to help you. If your education provider has recently closed, please check our closures and defaults listings for specific information about the next steps you need to take.

View closures and defaults listings

Support for students

Your education provider is obliged to help you, even if it is closing.

Your provider must:

  • arrange for you to finish your study with another provider, or
  • give you a refund of unspent tuition fees you paid directly to your provider.

If you are not satisfied with the replacement courses your provider has identified, you can ask to receive the refund instead.

If you have applied for a refund and you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can begin an internal complaints process with your provider. If you are unhappy with the outcome of the internal complaints process you can contact the Overseas Students Ombudsman

If your provider does not find you a suitable course or offer you a refund the TPS will help you.

What to expect from the TPS

The TPS can find you another provider that offers a similar course for you. If a suitable replacement is unavailable, the TPS will arrange a refund of unspent tuition fees.

When a provider defaults, the TPS contacts the affected students and invites them to an information session where they can learn more about the assistance available from the TPS.

The TPS will create an account for you for TPS Online - an online placement system which will guide you through your study and refund options.

TPS Online.

The TPS Overview – how does it work for international students?

Your education providers stops providing or does not start providing your course as agreed and does not meet their default obligations

  1. the TPS contacts you and creates an account for you
  2. register with or log-on to the TPS
  3. you provide proof of identity
  4. the TPS will assist you to find options for completing your course in Australia or online
    • If there no suitable alternative courses*, you may apply for a refund of the amount of any ‘unspent’ tuition fees you have paid to your provider. These are any tuition fees you have already paid that are directly related to the course which you haven’t yet received.  *Ceasing study may affect your visa. Contact immi.gov.au for assistance.
    • Any remaining unspent tuition is refunded to you
  5. contact providers and apply for preferred course
  6. accept preferred suitable offer
    • TPS transfers any unspent pre-paid fees to your new provider.
    • Any remaining unspent tuition is refunded to you
  7. you commence study as agreed

Contact the TPS

If you need to get in touch with the TPS please do not hesitate to contact us.

Things to request and gather

If your provider will close soon or end your course, you should discuss the situation directly with the provider and request copies of:

  • your academic transcript
  • your written agreement you signed with your provider
  • invoices / receipts
  • any completed units, competencies, modules, or assessments
  • completed assessments, assignments, and work placements
  • course structure (lists of units of competency in your course and when they were being taught)
  • any other documents or emails that show parts of the course you were studying and had completed.

These documents will help you and the TPS to find you a replacement provider or get a refund.

What to expect from your provider:

Within 24 hours of the default you should receive written information containing:

  • the date of their default
  • the name of the course and units of study you were enrolled in
  • a copy of your student transcript which includes units you already completed
  • evidence of any payments the provider has received from you.

Continuing your studies at another provider

The TPS will provide you with a list of potential replacement providers where you can continue your studies. You will need to contact your preferred replacement provider to seek an offer of placement*.

When talking to potential replacement providers, you should discuss:

  • your current course progression
  • the parts of the course you will receive credits for
  • which parts of the course you will need to pay for (including additional costs, if any)
  • the mode of delivery (on-campus, online, or blended delivery)
  • the requirements and prerequisites for the course
  • the expected timeframe to complete your studies with the replacement provider.

A replacement provider is required to grant you course credits for study already undertaken or proven competencies.

The academic and fee requirements of your replacement course may be higher than your original course. If that is the case, you may need to meet those requirements.

* You can choose not to enrol in any of the providers identified by the TPS and find your own provider instead.

Getting a refund of tuition fees

To help determine the amount of tuition fees to be refunded, you should have:

If you don’t enrol in a replacement course, you will need to consider the affect this might have on your student visa as it is a condition of your visa that you maintain your status as an officially enrolled student at a CRICOS registered education provider.

Please visit the Department of Home Affairs to learn more of your obligations: Education provider default (homeaffairs.gov.au)

Information required by TPS to calculate the unspent tuition fee amount

Tuition fees are the fees paid by you to the provider that are directly related to the provision of a course of study and do not generally include other associated fees that you may have paid to the provider such as materials fee, Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) or accommodation costs, etc. 

  • based on the records available in PRISMS or from the provider, the TPS would provide you with an estimate of your unspent fee refund entitlement for your confirmation.
  • if reliable fee records are not available from the provider, or if you disagree with the systems generated estimate provided by the TPS, we would require you to provide us with substantive evidence of the fees paid by you for your current course of study and any fees that you have paid for a future enrolment or study. Such evidence may include:
    • receipts issued by the provider identifying your name, amount paid and the date of receipt and/or;
    • bank statements identifying any transaction records of fee payments to the provider or;
    • online fund transfers which clearly identify the account owner and the recipient of the funds transferred online.

The ESOS framework

The protections and provider obligations outlined above are provided under the Education Services for Overseas (ESOS) Act 2000. The ESOS Act and related legislation protects Australia's reputation for delivering quality education services and the interests of international students in Australia.  The ESOS Act sets out the registration requirements and ongoing high standards an education provider must meet to enrol international students. For information on the ESOS legislative framework visit ESOS legislative framework.

Health and wellbeing services

Closures and defaults cause uncertainty and disruption for students. There are health and wellbeing services available to international students.

See Study NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Study in Australia resources.

Making a complaint about your provider

The Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman investigates complaints that international students have with private education providers. However, if you have a complaint about your provider, we recommend contacting the provider to begin an internal complaints process before contacting the Ombudsman.