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Overseas Students Ombudsman releases check-list to smooth over student agreements

THE Overseas Students Ombudsman is seeking to reduce the amount of complaints made by international students by addressing the problems at their core. Stephen Clarke reports.

Image: jarmoluk via pixabay

Image: jarmoluk via pixabay

A check-list with aims to improve written agreements between overseas students and private-registered education providers has been released by the Overseas Students Ombudsman.

The check-list is a series of questions with yes or no answers that education providers can utilise in assessing their written agreements against the legal framework.

The Ombudsman, Colin Neave (who is also the Commonwealth Ombudsman) released the documents following an investigation which sought to identify common disagreements and errors in written agreements.

Over the last three years the ombudsman has received more than 1850 complaints from overseas students in relation to more than a third of the 975 private registered education providers in Australia.

The most common complaints involved refund and fee disputes, appeals against providers that refused to allow students to transfer to other providers, and appeals against the decisions of providers to report students to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for unsatisfactory attendance.

Written agreements between international students and education providers have to meet the requirements of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) regulatory framework.

“When a written agreement doesn’t comply with the framework, or is unclear or poorly written, it can be difficult for overseas students to understand their rights and responsibilities,” Mr Neave said.

“It can also result in a provider being required to pay a refund where it otherwise would not have to.”

Mr Neave said that when consulting with peak bodies and stakeholders, they had found a wide degree of support amongst private education providers with a view to helping increase compliance with the ESOS framework.

For more information about your rights and responsibilities as an international student you can read a fact sheet on the ESOS framework here.

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Meld Magazine was incorporated as an independent not-for-profit media outlet in September 2008 to reach out to international students in Melbourne, and provide students the opportunity to gain real work experience.

Many international students live in or around the city because of the proximity to their colleges and universities, and that was where we decided to focus our efforts first. Many of us live, work and study locally too. Our editorial team is made of both local and international students, and it has worked to our advantage in providing local content in every sense of the word.

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