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Frequently asked questions regarding pre-paid tuition fees

What information about tuition fees be included in the written agreement?
Are there any requirements to set out the length of study periods or the tuition fees that apply to study periods?
What are the requirements for providers when receiving payment of tuition fees?
How do changes to the 50 per cent limit on upfront tuition payments benefit students?
How should providers manage the situation where a student does not pay the remaining course fees after the course commences?
Are application fees, i.e., fees for the application process involved in determining whether a student is suitable for enrolment with a provider, included in tuition fees?
We are a provider that takes Payment in Arrears. Are we required to abandon this practice given that we will now be required to pay into the TPS?
We are a provider that does not collect fees from students at all. Are we still required to pay into the TPS?


What information about tuition fees be included in the written agreement?

The provider is required to list all tuition fees payable by the student for the course, the periods to which those tuition fees relate and payment options (including, if permitted under the ESOS Act, that the student may choose to pay more than 50 per cent of their tuition fees before their course commences).

The provider must provide details of any non-tuition fees the student may incur, including as a result of having their study outcomes reassessed, deferral of study, fees for late payment of tuition fees, or other circumstances in which additional fees may apply.

The provider must include in the written agreement the following information, which is to be consistent with the requirements of the ESOS Act, in relation to refunds of tuition fees and non-tuition fees in the case of student default and provider default:

  • amounts that may or may not be repaid to the overseas student (including any tuition and non-tuition fees collected by education agents on behalf of the registered provider)
  • processes for claiming a refund
  • the specified person(s), other than the overseas student, who can receive a refund in respect of the overseas student identified in the written agreement, consistent with the ESOS Act
  • a plain English explanation of what happens in the event of a course not being delivered, including the role of the TPS
  • a statement that "This written agreement, and the right to make complaints and seek appeals of decisions and action under various processes, does not affect the rights of the student to take action under the Australian Consumer Law if the Australian Consumer Law applies".

Are there any requirements to set out the length of study periods or the tuition fees that apply to study periods?

There is no requirement to set out the length of study periods or the tuition fees that apply to study periods in ongoing invoices and billing cycles.

As there are no longer restrictions on the collection of further tuition fees after the student commences, providers can agree on a payment plan with students setting out when any remaining fees are due to be paid once the student starts their course.

Fees to be paid must be set out and agreed to by each student in their written agreement with the provider.

When entering into a written agreement, providers should clearly set out what period of time a payment of tuition fees relates to. Refunds paid under section 47E of the ESOS Act are calculated under the Education Services for Overseas Students (Calculation of Refund) Specification 2014, which involves working out how many weeks are in a default period and the associated tuition fee.

What are the requirements for providers when receiving payment of tuition fees?

Under the ESOS legislation providers cannot require students to pay more than 50 per cent of their tuition fees before they start the course. However, students, or the person responsible for paying the tuition fees, may choose to pay more than 50 per cent of their tuition fees before they start their course.

Providers should be able to show evidence that students have exercised choice in how much of their tuition fees are paid up front.

Short courses with a duration of 25 weeks or less are not subject to the 50 per cent limit.

There are no restrictions on collecting tuition fees after a student has started their course.

These requirements support the TPS by:

  • ensuring providers are better able to meet their refund obligations to students
  • improving outcomes for students affected by a provider default
  • encouraging providers to establish sustainable business models
  • reducing the potential refund liability on the TPS
  • facilitating the student visa application assessment process.

How do changes to the 50 per cent limit on upfront tuition payments benefit students?

Students and their sponsors can choose to pay more than 50 per cent of tuition fees up front if they wish to do so. This allows students and those paying fees on their behalf, such as their parents or a scholarship sponsor, to pay any amount greater than 50 per cent of the tuition fees to take advantage of favourable exchange rates or have the convenience of only paying once.

Students can now work out a more flexible payment plan with their provider. Previously students could not start paying their remaining fees until two weeks before the start of the second study period. This restriction is now removed.

How should providers manage the situation where a student does not pay the remaining course fees after the course commences?

Providers should continue to manage non-payment of fees according to their own policies and procedures, and consistent with the conditions outlined in the written agreement.

A provider may suspend or cancel a student's enrolment including on the basis of the student's failure to pay an amount he or she was required to pay the registered provider to undertake or continue the course as stated in the written agreement.

If the provider initiates a suspension or cancellation of the overseas student's enrolment, before imposing a suspension or cancellation the registered provider must inform the overseas student of that intention and the reasons for doing so, and, in writing, advise the overseas student of their right to appeal through the provider's internal complaints and appeals process, in accordance with Standard 10 (Complaints and appeals), within 20 working days.

When there is cancellation action taken the provider must inform the overseas student of the need to seek advice from Immigration on the potential impact on his or her student visa and report the change to the overseas student's enrolment under section 19 of the ESOS Act.

PRISMS provides the option to cancel the student CoE for non-payment of fees.

Are application fees, i.e., fees for the application process involved in determining whether a student is suitable for enrolment with a provider, included in tuition fees?

No. A provider is not required under the ESOS Act or the National Code to refund application fees. Application fees are a relatively small amount and are those fees payable so that a student can apply to undertake the course and are generally paid for the purposes of assessing a student's previous academic history to determine whether or not the student is suitable for enrolment with the provider.

However, the provider must provide details in the written agreement of any non-tuition fees such as application fees the student may incur, including any fees as a result of having their study outcomes reassessed, deferral of study, fees for late payment of tuition fees, or other circumstances in which additional fees may apply.

We are a provider that takes Payment in Arrears. Are we required to abandon this practice given that we will now be required to pay into the TPS?

No. Providers who collect Payment in Arrears are able to continue to do so and should ensure that this arrangement is transparent to international students and regulators. While this will not remove the requirement for the provider to pay into the TPS, the TPS Director may take it into account for the purposes of the risk based component of the TPS levy.

We are a provider that does not collect fees from students at all. Are we still required to pay into the TPS?

Yes. All CRICOS providers will be required to pay an annual TPS Levy. Contributions to the TPS framework will be universal but also risk based.