The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has recently published the Written Agreements with Overseas Students as part of Standard 3 of the National Code required for ESOS providers. The written agreement is a recognition of the student’s enrolment and ensures that their rights and obligations are in place.
ASQA’s Written Agreements For Overseas Students serve to guide training providers under the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act) so they are aware of and understand their obligation towards overseas students.
What’s the Purpose of ASQA’s Written Agreements For Overseas Students?
Written agreements between RTOs and overseas students are crucial for formalising enrolment and establishing clear obligations.
Some key points for RTOs mentioned in ASQA’s Written Agreement With Overseas Students include:
- Establishing fair and reasonable terms, particularly about refund policies and ensuring mutual protection
- Providing written agreements that clearly outline course details, fees, refund policies, and complains/appeals processes
- Ensuring that written agreements are signed or accepted by students or their guardians
- Ensuring that the written agreements are compliant with the requirements under the ESOS Act and National Code
Overall, these written agreements play a vital role in ensuring transparency, setting expectations, and safeguarding the rights of both RTOs and overseas students.
How Do You Structure Your Written Agreement?
According to ASQA’s Written Agreement with Overseas Students, when creating a written agreement with overseas students, RTOs should ensure that it includes the following details:
- Course details: Clearly outline the course or courses in which the student will be enrolled. Include information such as the expected start date, locations where the course will be delivered, and the offered modes of study, including any compulsory online or work-based training, placements, or other community-based learning arrangements.
- Prerequisites: State any prerequisites necessary for students to enter the course, including English language requirements or any other specific conditions.
- Tuition fees: List all tuition fees payable by the student for the course. Specify the periods to which these tuition fees relate and provide payment options. If allowed under the ESOS Act, mention that students may choose to pay more than 50% of their tuition fees before the course starts.
- Non-tuition fees: Inform students about any non-tuition fees they may incur, such as reassessment fees, deferral of study fees, late payment fees, or other circumstances where added fees may apply.
- Disclosure of personal information: Set out the circumstances in which personal information about the student may be disclosed by the RTO to the Commonwealth, including the Tuition Protection Service (TPS), or state or territory agencies, following the Privacy Act 1988.
- Complaints and appeals processes: Clearly outline the RTO’s internal and external complaints and appeals processes, ensuring compliance with Standard 10 (Complaints and appeals).
- Refund requirements: Specify the refund requirements that apply in the event of student default or provider default. Include details of the amounts that may or may not be repaid to the student, including any tuition and non-tuition fees collected by education agents on behalf of the RTO. Outline the process for claiming a refund, including any specified person(s) who can receive a refund other than the student. Explain what happens in the event that a course is not delivered, including the role of the TPS.
- Consumer rights: Include a statement advising students that the agreement does not affect their rights to act under Australian Consumer Law, where applicable.
- Student responsibilities: Advise students of their responsibility to notify the RTO of current contact details and any changes to contact details. Provide information on who to contact in case of an emergency while studying in Australia.
- Record-keeping: State that the student handles keeping a copy of the written agreement as supplied by the RTO, as well as receipts of any payments of tuition fees or non-tuition fees. Emphasise the importance of RTOs retaining records of all written agreements and payment receipts for at least two years after the student ceases to be enrolled.
- Use of links: Ensure that only links are used to provide supplementary material, rather than including it within the written agreement itself.
Additionally, according to ASQA’s Written Agreement with Overseas Students, RTOs should be aware that if the terms of the agreement are the same for consecutive courses, they may have a single written agreement covering all the courses.
Aside from ASQA’s Written Agreement With Overseas Students, there are also other related information that can be found in other publications.
An Issues Paper on Improving fairness in written agreements between international students and Australian education providers has been published by the Commonwealth Ombudsman to address potential unfair outcomes, the application of Australian Consumer Law, problematic terms, and better practice suggestions.
ASQA has also released a Guide to provider default obligations under the ESOS Act, covering tuition assurance and refunds for paid courses.
Conclusion: What Does ASQA’s Written Agreement With Overseas Students Mean?
In conclusion, the written agreement between RTOs and overseas students plays a crucial role in formalising the terms and conditions of enrolment. ASQA’s Written Agreement With Overseas Students ensures fairness and transparency by outlining the course details, prerequisites, fees, refund policies, and complaints processes.
RTOs must follow the requirements under the ESOS Act and the National Code, ensuring that the agreement is signed or accepted by the student and includes all the necessary information. By adhering to these guidelines and keeping proper record-keeping, RTOs can provide a secure and supportive educational environment for overseas students, fostering positive learning experiences and promoting compliance with regulatory standards.
For more information regarding this news update, you can click here to visit ASQA’s Written agreements with overseas students.