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Legal rights of international students in Australia

Understand the legal framework for international students in Australia

Australia is a popular destination among international students from across the globe. The country is benefitted socially, economically, and culturally from the international students who choose to study in an Australian institution. Besides, the nation ensures the health, safety and well-being of international students is well-taken care off. 

Given the same, the Australian government has framed necessary laws and services to make sure your quality of education as an international student remains high and isn’t compromised in any situation. The framework also considers whether you are being treated fairly when buying any goods and services or not.

Here are some measures that have been taken by the government in this direction:

1. All courses must be accredited by the government 

The Australian law protects international students in every possible way, and this is why every higher education provider is required to get themselves registered and accredited by the government. Also, all education providers have to pass regular formal quality assurance checks.

To further protect the interest of international students, the Australian Government has made it mandatory to get every course offered by a university to be accredited through CRICOS (Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students). This registration ensures all courses across institutions are of same standards.

2. Special complaint cell – Overseas Students Ombudsman

Any international student can approach the Overseas Students Ombudsman, which is the sole entity with the power to investigate complaints against private education and training institutions in Australia. If you are studying at a public university, school, or TAFE (Technical and Further Education), you can complain to the Ombudsman of the concerned state or territory where you are studying. The Ombudsman’s services are independent, free, and impartial.

3. Consumer protection laws

Australia has various consumer protection laws framed to safeguard the rights of its consumers including international students. These laws include National Law, which will protect your rights while buying any goods or availing any service in Australia. Do keep in mind to reach out to the relevant government trade or consumer agency located in your state or territory, if you:

  • Require any information about your consumer rights

  • Face a problem with any product or service already bought or planning to buy

  • Enquire anything regarding the operations of a business and its behaviour under the law

  • Lodge a complaint against a business   

4. Tuition Protection Service

The Tuition Protection Service (TPS) was set up by the Australian Government to assist international students in case the institution is unable to fully deliver their course. This makes you eligible for a refund or you can approach the TPS if you haven’t started or have stopped your course.

With the assistance of TPS you can either:

  • Complete your study in another course or with the other institution, or

  • Receive a refund on your unspent tuition fees  

5. Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act

The rights of all international students in Australia are safeguarded by the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act, which covers everything i.e., from financial protections to work rights, student’s welfare, and complaints. 

6. Workplace rights of an international student

A majority of international students take up part-time or casual job to take care of their living expenses while studying in Australia. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of your rights at the workplace including fair treatment, knowledge of basic rights and protections, minimum wages, etc. 

The Fair Work Ombudsman ensures that your work rights are protected and exercised fairly. 

Here are some things you need to know as an international student working part-time in Australia

  • Your pay:  Australia has a minimum wage system, check the same before you apply for any job 

  • Tax payment: The tax to be paid in Australia depends upon your income. Before you start working, get a Tax File Number (TFN) and mention it to your employer to ensure you don’t pay more taxes than you owe 

  • Payslips: It’s important to get a payslip in Australia within one working day of getting paid. Although, every worker gets paid weekly, fortnightly or monthly

  • Work hours: As an international student, you are allowed to work up to 40 hours every two weeks during the term, and unlimited hours during your holidays. You need to comply by the hours mentioned on your student visa

  • Casual work: You can find many casual roles in Australia where you don’t have a fixed number of weekly hours

Australian government take measures on regular basis to promote and protect human rights while preventing unlawful discrimination against anyone irrespective of their citizenship. These laws are a prerequisite to enhance the health, safety and well-being of international students and members of their families. 


Updated on May 27, 2021

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