Frequently asked questions on this page:
Registered providers’ complaints and appeals processes are independent, easily and immediately accessible and inexpensive for the parties involved.
This standard ensures international students have a fair, inexpensive complaints and appeals process that includes access to an independent external body if necessary. Providers must make prompt decisions as a student’s visa will restrict his or her length of stay in Australia.
The registered provider must have an appropriate internal complaints handling and appeals process that satisfies the following requirements, or can use its existing internal complaints and appeals processes as long as it meets these requirements:
a process is in place for lodging a formal complaint or appeal if the matter cannot be resolved informally, which requires a written record of the complaint or appeal to be kept
each complainant or appellant has an opportunity to formally present his or her case at minimal or no cost to him or herself
each party may be accompanied and assisted by a support person at any relevant meetings
the complainant or appellant is given a written statement of the outcome, including details of the reasons for the outcome; and
the process commences within 10 working days of the formal lodgement of the complaint or appeal and supporting information and all reasonable measures are taken to finalise the process as soon as practicable.
The registered provider must have arrangements in place for a person or body independent of and external to the registered provider to hear complaints or appeals arising from the registered provider’s internal complaints and appeals process or refer students to an existing body where that body is appropriate for the complaint or appeal.
Note: Standard 8 requires the provider to have arrangements in place for external complaints or appeals, and while it does not prescribe the process of the external appeal, institutions should have in place arrangements which are appropriate to their own institution and allow for the timely reporting of students in compliance with student visa provisions.
If the student is not satisfied with the result or conduct of the internal complaint handling and appeals process, the registered provider must advise the student of his or her right to access the external appeals process at minimal or no cost.
If the student chooses to access the registered provider’s complaints and appeals processes as per this standard, the registered provider must maintain the student’s enrolment while the complaints and appeals process is ongoing.
If the appeal is against the provider’s decision to report the student for:
The provider must maintain the student’s enrolment (i.e. not report the student for unsatisfactory progress or attendance) until the external complaints process is complete and has supported the provider’s decision to report. The provider must wait for the outcome of the external process in this case as reporting a student for unsatisfactory progress or attendance may result in cancellation of the student's visa.
If the appeal is against the provider’s decision to:
The provider only needs to await the outcome of the internal appeals process (supporting the provider) before notifying the Department of Education through PRISMS of the change to the student’s enrolment. Once the Department of Education has been notified of a deferment, suspension or cancellation of a student’s enrolment, the student has 28 days in which to:
See Standard 13 (especially Question 23) for further details.
If the internal or any external complaint handling or appeal process results in a decision that supports the student, the registered provider must immediately implement any decision and/or corrective and preventative action required and advise the student of the outcome.
For a provider to show it is complying with Standard 8, it may need some of the following as evidence:
Please note: The principles in the questions below can be applied to all sectors.
Can a student appeal against a provider’s decision not to give a refund?
Yes, if the student believes that the provider has not followed the terms of the refund agreement.
When writing their refund policies, providers must ensure they are aware of an amendment to Section 28 of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act which commenced on 1 January 2007. This amendment states that if a student is refused a student visa and cannot remain in or commence the course, the refund will be governed by the ESOS Act and not by the provider’s refund policy. The student will be entitled to a refund of all course money calculated in accordance with the ESOS Regulations. Sub-regulations 3.19(2)(a) to (e) allow providers to keep an amount for administrative expenses and a proportion of fees if the student has commenced the course.
Can a provider have different processes for different types of complaints or appeals?
Yes, as long as the processes meet the requirements of Standard 8, and are made clear to students and staff.
An institution may use different processes for different types of complaints. When considering which processes are suitable, the provider should bear in mind the appropriateness of the process for the particular kind of complaint, accessibility, timeliness, cost and procedural fairness.
How many external appeals must be heard before the provider can report the student?
If the provider is reporting a student for unsatisfactory progress or attendance, the provider must allow the student to access the external complaints and appeals process. The provider must await the outcome of this process (in favour of the provider) before reporting the student through PRISMS.
Under the National Code 2007, providers determine their own complaints and appeals processes in accordance with the requirements of Standard 8. Providers may wish to limit the number of appeals processes through which the student’s appeal may be heard. As long as a provider’s complaints and appeals process allows for an external appeal, it may specify that the student may access and receive the outcome of only one external appeals process before the provider may report the student. By specifying this in the complaints and appeals process, providers will not have to await the outcome of multiple external appeals processes which students may wish to access.
Note that this does not stop students from accessing multiple external appeals processes – it just means the provider does not have to await the outcomes of these extra appeals before reporting the student.
If a student is dissatisfied with the provider’s complaints and appeals processes, what can the student do?
The student can contact the Department of Education through the ESOS online enquiry form or through the ESOS helpline 02 6240 5069. The student may send through a complaint at any point, including after he or she has exhausted the provider’s internal appeals process and the external appeals process. The Department of Education will only intervene where the provider’s appeals process was not conducted correctly or if the provider did not make the appeals process available to the student.
Good practice would be for the provider to let the student know that help is available from the Department of Education. The student should also be made aware that the Department of Education will only look at whether the appeals process met the requirements of the National Code. The Department of Education will not be looking at whether the outcome of a properly conducted appeal process was right or wrong.
If the provider’s internal and external complaints and appeals processes support the provider’s intention to report a student for unsatisfactory progress or unsatisfactory attendance, and the provider reports the student through PRISMS, will DIBP hear any further complaints or appeals?
Once a student has been reported for unsatisfactory progress or unsatisfactory attendance, DIBP will consider all the information available and if they decide to consider cancellation, DIBP will send a Notice of Intention to Consider Cancellation (NOICC) prior to a decision being made to cancel the students visa. Students will be given an opportunity to respond to the NOICC and explain their situation. The Student does not need to attend a DIBP office.
How can providers be sure the external appeals processes they wish to use are sufficiently independent and external to meet the requirements of the National Code 2007?
Please see the explanatory notes under Standard 8.2. If in doubt, please contact your designated authority.
For further information about this Standard, please visit the Department of Education, Australian Education International, Department of Immigration and Border Protection websites.