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Agreements and transfers

Written agreements – contractual obligations for students and providers

Part of your enrolment involves a written agreement between you and your provider. It must include details of:

  • the course or courses in which you will be enrolled;
  • any conditions on enrolment (including the restriction of transferring between providers prior to completing six months of your principal course);
  • fees and refund policies; and
  • the circumstances when your provider may share your personal information.

Read more about written agreements on the ESOS website at www.aei.gov.au/AEI/ESOS

Transfer of provider

Australia recognises international students as consumers and supports their right to exercise choice. Students enrolled in a package should be careful when changing principal courses, as a preliminary course can be a prerequisite for the principal one. The principal course is the highest qualification in a package of courses that appear on your student visa.

Providers cannot enrol a student wanting to transfer from another provider before the student has completed six months of his or her principal course unless:

  1. the registration of the provider or the course in which the student is enrolled is cancelled;
  2. the provider has given the student a letter of release;
  3. a government sanction on the provider’s registration prevents the student from continuing his or her principal course; and
  4. the student’s government sponsor writes to support the change.

Under normal circumstances (ie – where conditions 1, 3 and 4 above do not apply), an alternative provider cannot issue a formal Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) without a release letter. Information from the CoE forms the basis for the student visa issued by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).

A student requesting transfer must have a valid offer of enrolment from another provider. A student younger than 18 years must also show written evidence of support for the transfer from a parent or legal guardian.

To apply for a release letter, students should first check the provider’s documented student transfer request assessment policy and procedure (see below) Students are required to take the letter of offer from the alternative provider to the current provider and any other provider(s) in a package of courses that may be affected by the transfer.

Students should note that transferring providers will impact on any refund arrangements as stated in the written agreement with each provider in the package. If a student’s move from a preliminary course will affect the start dates of subsequent courses, students will need to have release letters from all of the providers of the affected courses. Changing the preliminary course(s) in a package of courses may exclude the student from admission to the principal course, as a preliminary course can be a prerequisite for the principal course. This in turn may impact on the student visa.

Any student wishing to change his or her enrolment should contact DIAC at www.immi.gov.au to find out how the change might impact on their visa.

Read more about transferring between providers in the ESOS National Code Explanatory Guide at www.aei.gov.au/AEI/ESOS

Provider obligations

A provider must have, and implement, a documented student transfer request assessment policy and procedure, which they make available to students. The policy and procedure should outline:

  • the circumstances in which a transfer will be granted;
  • the circumstances which the registered provider considers as providing reasonable grounds for refusal; and
  • time-frames for granting a release letter.

The provider must consider the request in a timely manner and provide a letter of release if the transfer is approved, or written reasons for refusal.

Release letter vs cancelling enrolment

It is not sufficient for you, or the provider at your request, to simply cancel the CoE. Your provider must provide you with a release letter to enable the receiving provider to create a new CoE. Without this letter, you will have no active CoE with any provider, which constitutes a breach of the conditions of your student visa.

Providers are obliged to assess the request for a release letter on the basis of the educational merit of the transfer, the student’s best interests and the provider’s own transfer policy and procedures.

Lodging a grievance

If you are not happy with the outcome of a request you have made to your education provider, you have the right to appeal the decision. Your provider is required to have an inexpensive internal complaints/appeals process available for your immediate use. External appeal processes are available once internal appeals are exhausted. Providers are required to inform students how to access internal and external appeals processes.

Your provider must maintain your enrolment throughout the appeals process. You will be immediately advised if you win the appeal and the decision will be implemented. The timing of the process will be as swift as possible, taking into account the length of your visa.

If the issue cannot be resolved you can call the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) ESOS Helpline on (02)62405069 for information and advice to help you understand your rights and obligations.

Read more about complaints and appeals, including some frequently asked questions about providers and courses in the National Code Explanatory Guide (Part D, Standard 7) at www.aei.gov.au/AEI/ESOS


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