Australian Government - Australian Education International

National Code Part D, Standard 6

Student support services

 

Explanatory guide for Standard 6

 

Frequently asked questions on this page:

 

 

Registered providers support students to adjust to study and life in Australia, to achieve their learning goals and to achieve satisfactory academic progress towards meeting the learning outcomes of the course.

 

This standard ensures that appropriate support services are available to international students to ease the transition into life and study in Australia and to assist them as needed.

 

Key requirements for all sectors

 

  • An age and culturally sensitive orientation programme is required, including information regarding:
    • support services available to assist in the transition into life and study in Australia
    • legal services
    • emergency and health services
    • facilities and resources
    • complaints and appeals processes; and
    • information on visa conditions relating to course progress and, if applicable, attendance.
  • Providers must have a documented critical incident policy together with procedures that cover the action to be taken in the event of a critical incident, the required follow-up to the incident, the recording of the incident and the action taken.
  • Providers must help students access study support and welfare-related services.
  • A contact officer or officers must be appointed as the official point of contact for students.
  • Providers must ensure that staff members who interact directly with overseas students are aware of the providers’ obligations under the ESOS framework.
  • There is no longer a requirement to appoint a ‘suitably qualified person’ as the international student contact officer. Under the National Code 2007, the provider must clearly identify a member or members of staff as the official point of contact and ensure there are adequate support personnel.
  • There must be a written critical incident policy and procedures that include follow-up action required in the event of a critical incident.

 

What this standard involves:

 

6.1  

The registered provider must assist students to adjust to study and life in Australia, including through the provision of an age and culturally appropriate orientation program that includes information about:

a.  

student support services available to students in the transition to life and study in a new environment

b.

legal services

c.

emergency and health services

d.

facilities and resources

e.

complaints and appeals processes; and

f.

any student visa condition relating to course progress and/or attendance as appropriate.

  • Providers must ensure that orientation for all international students is appropriate and thorough.
  • The orientation programme should be accessible to all overseas students and allow for late arrivals and students who begin at different entry points.
  • Providers may choose from a number of methods to provide relevant information. Electronic formats could include the provider’s website, emails, SMS broadcasts or pod casts. Written format could include the student handbook, noticeboard or even a wallet-sized card with useful numbers. The relevant information could also be presented orally at the orientation session, bearing in mind the different levels of language of the students.
  • Providers must remain conscious of the student’s privacy and confidentiality in order to satisfy the Privacy Act.
  • Cultural sensitivities must be considered to prevent offence to the students, their families or any of their representatives, for example agents.

6.2  

The registered provider must provide the opportunity for students to participate in services or provide access to services designed to assist students in meeting course requirements and maintaining their attendance.

  • Services must be available to help students meet course requirements and maintain attendance. Examples of such services include: a study skills centre, supervised study groups and tutorial support assistance.
  • Standard 10 addresses course progress requirements. Under Standard 10.2, providers are required to make students aware of their course progress policies. Under Standard 10.4, the provider’s intervention strategy must be activated when the student is identified as being at risk of not meeting course requirements. Students who are identified as at risk may have access to the provider’s support services in accordance with the provider’s intervention strategy.
  • Standard 11 covers attendance requirements where applicable. Where attendance is being monitored under Standard 11.3, the provider’s attendance policy must be provided to the students and the provider must have in place a process to contact students identified as being at risk of not achieving satisfactory attendance.

6.3  

The registered provider must provide the opportunity for students to access welfare-related support services to assist with issues that may arise during their study, including course progress and attendance requirements and accommodation issues. These services must be provided at no additional cost to the student. If the registered provider refers the student to external support services, the registered provider must not charge for the referral.

  • Welfare related support services must be available to students to assist with issues such as accommodation, course progress and attendance requirements.
  • Students must be made aware of the existence of the welfare-related support services. Information about student support services can be provided in many ways, including: the student handbook, provider website, noticeboard or even a wallet-sized card with useful numbers. It could also be presented verbally at the orientation session.

6.4

The registered provider must have a documented critical incident policy together with procedures that covers the action to be taken in the event of a critical incident, required follow-up to the incident, and records of the incident and action taken.

  • A written critical incident policy must be created to include procedures to be followed if action is required.
  • The National Code defines critical incident as ‘a traumatic event, or the threat of such (within or outside Australia), which causes extreme stress, fear or injury’.
  • The critical incident policy should include contact information for the police and any other organisations that may be able to assist in such a situation, for example community/multi-cultural organisations or phone-counselling services.
  • Critical incidents are not limited to, but could include:
    • missing students
    • severe verbal or psychological aggression
    • death, serious injury or any threat of these
    • natural disaster; and
    • issues such as domestic violence, sexual assault, drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Non-life threatening events could still qualify as critical incidents.

Any action taken in regard to a critical incident may be recorded to include outcomes or evidence if the incident is referred to another person or agency. When writing the critical incident policy and procedures, providers should consider information privacy principles.

6.5  

The registered provider must designate a member of staff or members of staff to be the official point of contact for students. The student contact officer or officers must have access to up-to-date details of the registered provider’s support services.

  • All students must be made aware of their point(s) of contact. Appointing a back-up contact person is strongly recommended.
  • Good practice would be to list the contacts by name as well as their position title for easier access by students.
  • The contact officer must inform the students of the existence of support services and how to access them.

6.6  

The registered provider must have sufficient student support personnel to meet the needs of the students enrolled with the registered provider.

  • When deciding what would be considered an appropriate level of support personnel, providers may take into consideration the number of overseas students enrolled, the types of courses being offered and the likely needs of students.
  • Providers could check any requirements of state/territory legislation relating to staff-student ratios with local registration authorities.

6.7  

The registered provider must ensure that its staff members who interact directly with students are aware of the registered provider’s obligations under the ESOS framework and the potential implications for students arising from the exercise of these obligations.

  • Providers could incorporate within staff handbooks and induction training, information regarding the ESOS responsibilities of the provider and of staff who interact with international students.
  • Emails and discussions at staff meetings may be ways of communicating to staff the ESOS framework and how basic classroom administration such as keeping accurate attendance may have different ramifications for international students compared with domestic students.

 

Compliance tips

For a provider to show it is complying with Standard 6, it may need some of the following as evidence:

  • evidence that student support services are not limited to academic issues
  • evidence of information accessible to students directing them to any available support services
  • a documented critical incident policy and procedures, and evidence that staff members have an understanding of the critical incident policy
  • information regarding the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) responsibilities of the provider and staff who interact with international students incorporated within staff handbooks and induction training; or
  • evidence that the information provided during the orientation program is consistent with 6.1 above.

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Common questions and answers

Please note: The principles in the examples below can be applied to all sectors.

Student contact officer

 

Q

The National Code 2007 Standard 6.5 requires the provider to have a designated member of staff to be the official point of contact for students. Is it a business hours contact or an after-hours emergency contact?

A

Your orientation programme must have information about emergency and health services (6.1.c). You must have a critical incident policy that covers procedures, follow-up and records of the incident (6.4). You must list a designated member of staff – or members of staff – to be the official point of contact for students (6.5). You must keep these contact details up to date. If your designated staff member is an official point of contact during office hours only this would be reasonable and meet the Standard 6.5 requirement.

 

Critical incident policy

 

Q

What does a provider need to do if a student is involved in an accident or is seriously injured?

A

The provider must activate its critical incident policy. This would include protocols for informing the police, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) and the parents of the student, if appropriate.

 

Student is seriously injured and the outlook is not positive

Kareem came to Australia to study an Advanced Diploma in Environmental Design at Upmarket International Academy. Things were going well for two years. He made friends and was very happy with his grades. During a study-related excursion to a factory, he fell and hit his head. Things do not look good for Kareem as he was taken to the Intensive Care Unit and went into a coma. The doctors told the teachers of Upmarket International Academy that Kareem was not likely to survive.

The teachers on the excursion rang the Principal of Upmarket International Academy, Len Lily, who extracted the student’s file and the critical incident policy. Len Lily contacted the consulate from Kareem’s country to let the consul know about the incident. Len calculated what time it was in Kareem’s home country. Even though it was late for them, Len believed that it was better to contact Kareem’s next of kin immediately to inform them of the situation. As he was not fluent in Kareem’s language, he arranged an interpreter through the Telephone Interpreter Service (TIS). Len Lily rang Kareem’s parents to advise them of the incident involving their son and that the prognosis was not positive. Through the interpreter, Len Lily spoke with Kareem’s parents for a while, answered their questions and advised them that emergency visas were available if they wanted to travel to Australia to be with their son. Len Lily also gave the contact details of DIBP in case they wanted to come to Australia.

Len Lily notified DIBP local office about Kareem’s situation.

 

Note:

  • The National Code defines a ‘critical incident’ as:

    A traumatic event, or the threat of such (within or outside Australia), which causes extreme stress, fear or injury.
  • Kareem’s file and the critical incident policy were easy to access.

Q

I have developed an appropriate Critical Incident Policy that has limited circulation because of the evacuation/emergency procedures. What components of the policy do I need to share with students at orientation?

A

The details of your Critical Incident Policy do not need to be shared with students at orientation. Standard 6.4 requires you to have a documented critical incident policy and Standard 6.5 requires you to give students the details of the contact officer they would contact in the event of a critical incident. You may choose to give students a summary of the main aspects of your policy including how you would define a ‘critical incident’. This definition may include, but not be limited to, the evacuation/emergency procedures. Please fin examples of a Critical Incident Policy are in the Standard 6 Explanatory Guide.

 

Q

Does a ‘critical incident’ include ‘serious academic misconduct’ that threatens exclusion from the institution?

A

The National Code defines critical incident as ‘a traumatic event, or the threat of such (within or outside Australia), which causes extreme stress, fear or injury’. Serious academic misconduct is not listed among the examples of what defines a critical incident in the Standard 6 Explanatory Guide. Serious academic misconduct is not generally within the scope of matters that the Department of Education would consider "a critical incident".

Academic misconduct may come within the ambit of Standard 13 – Deferring, suspending or cancelling the student’s enrolment. Standard 13.2b states a: ‘provider can defer or temporarily suspend a student on the grounds of misbehaviour.’ A provider may also cancel a student's enrolment on any of the grounds that they have listed in their own rules and procedures. The grounds of misbehaviour – which may include serious academic misconduct as defined by you – would need to be clearly defined in your policies and procedures.

 

Q

How should I interpret "within or outside Australia" in the definition of a critical incident?

A

The Explanatory Guide for Standard 6.4 states: “The National Code defines critical incident as “a traumatic event, or the threat of such (within or outside Australia), which causes extreme stress, fear or injury”.

Critical incidents are not limited to, but could include:

  • missing students
  • severe verbal or psychological aggression
  • death, serious injury or any threat of these
  • natural disaster
  • issues such as domestic violence, sexual assault, drug or alcohol abuse.

If any of these events affected a student – or a member of their family – while they were living in Australia this would constitute a critical incident if these incidents were noted in your own Critical Incident Policy.

The Virginia Tech massacre is an example of a critical incident that involves students being affected by an event occurring outside Australia. At the time Virginia Tech students studying in Australia needed to return home urgently.

 

Q

How elaborate should my critical incident policy be?

A

Standard 6.4 states: “The registered provider must have a documented critical incident policy together with procedures that covers the action to be taken in the event of a critical incident, required follow-up to the incident, and records of the incident and action taken”. Beyond these minimum requirements the level of detail is up to the provider to determine. Further examples of Critical Incident Policies are listed by peak bodies that received funding under the National Code Transition Support Programme. Please find more information on the AEI website.

 

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Student support services

 

Q

My boarding school plans to expand our overseas student enrolment from three to about 30 students. We have the accommodation infra-structure but don’t yet have other support and welfare structures in place. Does the Department of Education run sessions appropriate for a school in our circumstance?

A

The National Code 2007 Explanatory Guide is a comprehensive online document that explains how providers can comply with the 15 Standards in the National Code. If you are enrolling students under the age of 18 there is particularly pertinent information in the Explanatory Guide to Standard 5 – Younger students and Standard 6 – Student support services. There is no specific Department of Education-run information sessions planned but it is possible that we will run workshops in the future.

A handbook for independent schools was written by the Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA) with the Department of Education funding under the National Code Transition Support Programme. Please find it under 'What's new' on the ISCA website.

 

ISANA (International Education Association) produced an online tutorial covering Part D of the National Code 2007. ISANA is working closely with the Australian Homestay Network. It aims to provide a nationally compliant homestay management system together with professional development and support for providers of homestays.

 

Q

Do institutions have to provide prayer rooms?

A

The National Code 2007 does not explicitly state that a provider should provide a prayer room. However, Standard 6 – Student Support Services – does state that the registered provider must assist students to adjust to study and life in Australia, including the opportunity for students to access welfare-related support services. If you have a considerable number of students who require access to a prayer room, you may wish to consider allocating such a space or informing students where the closest one is.

 

Q

Is there a requirement under the ESOS Act that requires schools to provide counselling for international students in a private area?

A

Standard 6.3 states a registered provider must provide the ‘opportunity for students to access welfare-related support services to assist with issues that may arise during study…’ Although the Code does not specifically state the requirement for a provider to provide a private room, the Department of Education suggests it would be best practise to do so.

 

Q

Can you explain how we can comply with the 6.1.b requirement to include information on Legal Services as a part of our orientation?

A

Standard 6.1 aims to help international students adjust to study and life in Australia. Institutions are to give them an orientation programme that is appropriate for their age and culture. The orientation must include information about legal services. The student would find this useful if they needed legal help with visa matters, they had an accommodation crisis, or if they got into trouble with the law, e.g. shop-lifting, underage drinking etc. These are just some of the possibilities. The question to ask is: What resources does the student have to deal with the situation? Clearly they would approach your institution’s contact officer but if this did not happen at least the student would have other options.

Standard 6 is more about pointing students in the right direction rather than providing a definitive list.

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Orientation

 

Q

What kind of orientation does the provider need to offer students?

A

International students will need a thorough orientation as soon as practical to familiarise them with the rules, expectations and facilities of the provider. The orientation should also outline the support available to assist the student to make a smooth transition into life in Australia.

 

Orientation

When Jimmy arrived in Australia to study his Diploma of Electronic Music at the Muzak International College, he was picked up at the airport by a representative of the college. He had agreed to this in advance and paid a small sum to cover this when he paid his fees. He was taken to a hostel that had also been arranged for him.

Jimmy reported to the college the following day along with several other international students who were also having their first day. A welcome and induction presentation by Mr Strummer, the International Student Co-ordinator, was given. Each student was given a student manual that included a floor plan of the building and a map of the local area.

Even though some information was already listed in the manual, Mr Strummer made a special point of telling the students that although many habits might be socially acceptable in their own countries, visitors to Australia need to be aware that some of these behaviours are considered inappropriate and perhaps illegal in Australia. For example, he told the students if they were at someone else's home and wished to smoke, it is common practice to go outside, as many Australians find cigarette smoking offensive. He added that smoking is forbidden in all college buildings, government buildings, public transport and many restaurants, shops and indoor venues in Australia. A brief explanation was also given about how Australia is experiencing water shortages and that students need to be conscious that some water restrictions apply.

Jimmy thought that the student manual had some information that might be valuable. There were contact details for embassies and cultural groups, and a range of support services that are available if students need them. Before the orientation finished, the students had photographs taken for their student cards.

Jimmy looked forward to an enjoyable and successful time as a student in a foreign country and felt confident that the Muzak International College would support him to gain his qualification.

 

Note:

  • Verbally reinforcing some of the information already presented in the student manual is good practice.
  • A procedure should be in place for reviewing and improving the orientation package each year to ensure its accuracy and that it will meet the needs and expectations of overseas students.

 

Connections

 

Standard

National Code

ESOS Act

Other

6

Standard 5

Standard 7

Standard 10

Standard 11 
 

 

Privacy Act 1988

 

Information

For further information, please visit Australian Education International, Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Office of Australian Information Commissioner  websites.