This article has been supplied by the Overseas Students Ombudsman

An Ombudsman is a person who helps people who have problems with Australian businesses and government agencies. There are different Ombudsmen for different businesses and parts of government.

The Overseas Students Ombudsman investigates complaints about problems that Overseas Students have with private education and training providers in Australia.

* If you have a problem with a public university, TAFE college or government school check out: Problems With Your Education Provider: Where To Go For Help.*

If you are not satisfied with a decision or action by your education provider, you should ask about their internal complaints and appeals process (they are required to have one).

If you complain to your provider, but you are not satisfied with the result, you can complain to the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman’s services are free, impartial and independent. They do not take sides or represent you or your provider. They are like a referee who stands in the middle and makes sure all players have followed the rules correctly.

If the Ombudsman finds that a business or government agency has done the wrong thing or treated someone unfairly, they can recommend a remedy. That remedy might be, for example, an apology, better information, a new decision, or a refund.

What problems does the Overseas Students Ombudsman consider?

The OSO can look at any decision, action or inaction of a private education provider in relation to an overseas student. See examples below:

  • your provider has told you it will report you to the Department of Immigration for poor course progress or attendance and you want to lodge an external appeal with the Ombudsman
  • your provider tells you that you owe fees but you disagree
  • you applied for a refund after withdrawing from your course or because your visa was refused but your provider has refused your refund request
  • you want to change to a different education provider but your current education provider has refused your request for a release letter
  • you need to suspend/defer your studies but your provider will not approve your request for a leave of absence/deferral
  • your provider cancelled your enrolment without telling you
  • you think your education agent or your education provider gave you misleading or incorrect advice
  • you want to make a complaint to your education provider but they are refusing to deal with your complaint

Student Stories: Learn from overseas students the Ombudsman has helped

Ms Nguyen* was not reported to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship after the Overseas Students Ombudsman found her provider had not properly implemented an intervention strategy before deciding to report her for poor course progress.

Mr D’Silva* had his request to temporarily suspend his studies/defer approved after the Overseas Students Ombudsman recommended his provider reconsider its refusal of his first deferral request, based on circumstances that warranted consideration on compelling and compassionate grounds.

Ms Kaur* received a refund after the Ombudsman investigated and found her provider had not listed the fees correctly in her written agreement, resulting in her paying more than the required fees.

* Not the student’s real name.


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For more information, head to the Overseas Students Ombusdman’s website.

Click here to find out who else you can contact for help.