International Students


People studying in Australia on a student visa are often referred to as ‘international students’ within the Higher Education sector. The terminology of ‘overseas students’ is more commonly used in the Australian Government’s Education and Home Affairs portfolios, which have responsibility for policy and programs related to overseas students.

Legislative protection for overseas students in Australia

Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards)

Under the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011, all higher education providers must meet the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 as a minimum condition of registration. Under the Threshold Standards, all institutions that offer higher education to students in Australia on a student visa are required to provide support services, including initial orientation and academic support.

The Education Services for Overseas Students legislative framework

In addition to the requirements of the Threshold Standards, the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 and related legislation, including the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (National Code), make specific provision for the protection of overseas students studying with Australian providers in any education sector.

The Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000, or ESOS Act, establishes legislative requirements and standards for the quality assurance of education and training institutions offering courses to international students who are in Australia on a student visa.  ESOS also provides tuition fee protection for international students.

The Australian Government’s legal framework requires Sydney College of Divinity to deliver quality education and a high level of care to our international students on an Australia Student Visa. The framework consists of:

The below resources will help you understand your rights and responsibilities and the obligations of the Sydney College of Divinity under the ESOS framework.

In the higher education sector, these arrangements are primarily enforced by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), which also enforces the Threshold Standards.

Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO)

The office of the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is an independent government agency. The FWO gives advice and support to all workers in Australia, including international students, who have the same work rights as all workers in Australia. it is safe for you to reach out to the FWO if you need help.

You won’t lose your visa by talking to the FWO as it’s not the FWO’s job to check your visa. You can get general advice from the FWO or report issues without giving your name. If you have breached your visa (like working too many hours), the FWO can still help with issues like underpayment.

If you want, the FWO can also share your information with the Department of Home Affairs, who generally won’t cancel your visa if there is evidence your workplace rights have been breached.

Call 13 13 94 to contact the FWO. You can access their services in different languages – all for free.

Reporting to Australian government agencies

As part of legislation, the Sydney College of Divinity could provide

  • personal information to Commonwealth and State agencies
  • personal information for overseas students to the Tuition Protection Service (TPS);
  • information advising changes to overseas student enrolment and any breach of visa conditions to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA)

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