Australia is a world leader in the provision of education to international students. More than 400,000 students from around 200 countries receive an Australian education each year. The government notes top source countries for international students as being China, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, and Indonesia.
The Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000 is the legislation regulating international education. Its National Code of Practice sets standards for educational institutions delivering services to overseas students. The Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) issues a unique CRICOS number. The ESOS Act, the National Code 2007 and CRICOS are national rules and regulations. Each state also has rules and regulations that closely relate to the ESOS Act.
English-language education (ELICOS) centres are accredited by the National ELT Accreditation Scheme (NEAS), and national professional associations include English Australia (EA), ACPET, WAPETIA, and TAFE. The academic year in Australia comprises two semesters; the first begins in February and the second begins in July. (Some universities and programmes offer other start dates outside of these, but these are the norm.) The deadlines for sending in applications are November 1 for the February intake and April 1 for the July intake. International students should begin the application process at least three months in advance. For courses lasting less than three months, international students can use a visitor visa or working holiday visa. For longer courses, they must apply for a student visa. Student visas are only issued for CRICOS-registered institutions or courses. The Migration Act 1958 and associated migration regulations govern the issuing of visas.
Students must be enrolled on a full-time basis to be eligible for a student visa. In addition, they must satisfy the Australian government’s general visa conditions. Extra conditions may apply depending on the student’s country of origin. A student visa allows full-time international students in Australia to work part time (maximum of 20 hours a week) during school semester and full time during vacation periods.
PRISMS (the Provider Registration and International Student Management System) produces and tracks all Confirmation of Enrolments (COE) for international students. A CoE is necessary for the issuing of a student visa.
Important changes to the student visa programme – from 1 July 2016
New student visa applicants
From 1 July 2016, there will be only one student visa available to study in Australia – the Student visa (subclass 500).
After 1 July 2016, if you want to study in Australia, you will need to apply for the Student visa (subclass 500) regardless of your field of study.
To find out the documents you might need to provide with your student visa application, select your education provider from the list available at:Education providers.
For more information, refer to the factsheets below:
- General information for students
- English language requirements
- Financial capacity requirements
- Simplified student visa framework – overview of key changes
- General information for education providers
Current visa holders
If you hold a student visa with subclass numbers 570 to 576, your visa will remain valid and your visa conditions will not change after 1 July 2016.
After 1 July 2016, family members of Student visa holders (subclasses 570-576) will need to apply for a subclass 500 visa if they want to join a family member in Australia.