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TPS Overview for Education Providers

Under the Tuition Protection Service (TPS) framework, all providers have a statutory obligation to report to the TPS Director and the Secretary about provider and student defaults. This is the first layer of tuition protection for students.

One of the main objectives of the TPS is to ensure that the placement and refund processes for students are quick and streamlined. The default notification requirements are to ensure students are looked after following a default in a timely way.

For a step by step process in case of a default click on the links below:

Provider Default - Part 5, Division 1, Subdivision A of the ESOS Act

The following steps outline the TPS process if a provider default occurs:

Step 1 - Provider default occurs

Under section 46A of the ESOS Act a registered provider defaults, in relation to an overseas student or intending overseas student and a course at a location, if:

  • the provider fails to start providing the course to the student at the location on the agreed starting day; or
  • after the course starts but before it is completed, it ceases to be provided to the student at the location; and the student has not withdrawn from the course before the default day.

Note: Section 46A sets out further rules prescribing when a provider defaults.

Step 2 - Notifying the Secretary, the TPS Director and students

  • Under section 46B of the ESOS Act, you must notify the Secretary and the TPS Director of the default within 3 business days of the default occurring. Under section 46B you must also notify students in relation to whom you have defaulted.
  • The notices must be in writing and meet the requirements of section 46B.

Step 3 - Provider obligation period

  • Under section 46D of the ESOS Act, you have 14 days after the day of the default (the provider obligation period) to satisfy your tuition protection obligations to the student as set out in the section.
  • If you fail to discharge your obligations to the student under section 46D, it is an offence under section 46E of the ESOS Act and serious penalties apply.

Step 4 - Notification of the outcome- discharge of obligations

  • Under section 46F of the ESOS Act, you have 7 days after the end of your obligation period to give a notice to the Secretary and the TPS Director of the outcome of the discharge of your obligations. This notice must comply with the requirements of section 46F.
  • If you do not meet your obligations affected students may be assisted by the TPS Director.

Note: The Step by Step process described above is for guidance purposes only and to the extent that it is inconsistent with the Education Services for Overseas Students Act (the ESOS Act) 2000 the ESOS Act prevails. Providers should not rely on this Step by Step process description alone and must read the requirements in the ESOS Act.

Student Default - Part 5, Division 2, Subdivision B of the ESOS Act

The following Steps outline the TPS process in a case of a student default:

Under section 47B of the ESOS Act, a registered provider must enter into a written agreement with each overseas student or intending overseas student that:

  • sets out the refund requirements that apply if the student defaults; and
  • meets any requirements set out in the national code.

If you fail to enter into an agreement that complies with section 47B it is an offence under section 47F of the ESOS Act and serious penalties apply.

Step 1 -Student default occurs

Under section 47A of the ESOS Act, an overseas student or intending overseas student defaults, in relation to a course at a location, if:

  • the course starts at the location on the agreed starting day, but the student does not start the course on that day (and has not previously withdrawn); or
  • the student withdraws from the course at the location (either before or after the agreed starting day); or
  • the registered provider of the course refuses to provide, or continue providing, the course to the student at the location because of one or more of the following:
    • the student failed to pay an amount payable to the provider for the course;
    • the student breached a condition of his/her student visa;
    • misbehaviour by the student (Note: the student is entitled to natural justice under subsection 47A(3)).

Note: subsection 47A(2) - A student does not default for failing to start a course on the agreed starting day if he/she does not start that course because the provider defaults in relation to the course at the location under subparagraph 46A(1)(a)(i).

Step 2 - Notifying the Secretary and the TPS Director

To meet Tuition Protection Service (TPS) reporting obligations, providers only need to report on whether they have provided a refund to a student in two cases of student default:

  • where a student's visa is refused, even if there is a compliant written agreement in place

  • where there is no compliant written agreement in place.

Step 3 - Provider obligation period

  • If a student or intending student defaults you must provide a refund in accordance with the requirements under either section 47D or 47E of the ESOS Act, depending on which section applies to the circumstances of the default situation.
  • You must pay the refund within the period (the provider obligation period) of 4 weeks after the day specified in section 47D or 47E, depending on which section applies to the circumstances of the default situation.

Step 4 - Notification of the outcome - discharge of obligations

  • If you fail to discharge your obligations under sections 47D or 47E, it is an offence under section 47G of the ESOS Act and serious penalties apply.
  • Under section 47H of the ESOS Act, you have 7 days after the end of your obligation period to give a notice to the Secretary and the TPS Director of the outcome of the discharge of your obligations where the provider is required to provide a refund under 47E. (i.e. where there is no written agreement in place and also in cases of visa refusal, whether there is a written agreement in place or not). This notice must comply with the requirements of section 47H.

Note: The Step by Step process described above is for guidance purposes only and to the extent that it is inconsistent with the Education Services for Overseas Students Act (the ESOS Act) 2000 the ESOS Act prevails. Providers should not rely on this Step by Step process description alone and must read the requirements in the ESOS Act.