The Australian Government has announced changes to the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000.
As of 25 June 2021, certain courses will not have to be registered with the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) before being available to international students.
In the past, all education and training providers had to be approved for registration on CRICOS before they could teach international students in Australia.
The Australian Government says there are many benefits when education providers register with CRICOS and follow their regulations. These include ensuring quality education, and protecting visa integrity for international students who seek education or training in Australia.
However, the government has also found that the extra costs of maintaining a CRICOS registration has meant fewer education and training providers are offering courses to international students. This is limiting the amount, and types, of training international students can undertake for jobs in industries such as hospitality, health, and construction.
Let’s cover what these new changes mean.
Exempt VET courses
Certain vocational education and training (VET) courses required for education or employment opportunities in Australia have been exempted from CRICOS registration. These are the types of courses international students can attend in addition to their full-time studies.
VET courses exempt from CRICOS registration are:
- Courses which you are required to complete before attending a work placement as part of a substantive qualification.
- Courses which are required for employment in one of the industries international students can work in while studying in Australia according to their student visa requirements (such as hospitality, health, construction, retail, horticulture, and infection control – for the full list of these courses, click here).
Exempt university courses
Some hobby or recreational university courses which do not lead to a qualification recognised under the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) are exempt from CRICOS registration. These short courses, ranging from creative arts to languages, must not count as credit towards an AQF qualification, such as a bachelor’s degree.
However, universities must still register some other non-AQF courses with CRICOS, such as:
- English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS)
- Foundation programs
- Study abroad or student exchanges
- Tertiary coursework and research preparatory courses
- Courses which require practical work placements and professional skills study
What does this mean for international students?
International students will not be able to apply for a student visa based on any courses exempt from CRICOS. Also, education and training providers are not allowed to advertise these courses as registered CRICOS courses.
CRICOS-exempt courses can not be the main course of study for international students. This means not much will change, except there will be extra education and training opportunities in your area of interest.
The CRICOS-exempt courses are low-cost, short, and allow you to gain pre-requisite industry qualifications to improve your skills and employability, and reduce your vulnerability to workplace exploitation.
Many of the courses that are now exempted from CRICOS not only help your studies, but could help you find a job. One of the most common places to work while studying is in the hospitality industry, taking on jobs in places like cafés, restaurants, and bars. Under the new changes, examples of CRICOS-exempt VET courses include Prepare and serve espresso coffee (SITHFAB005) and Provide responsible service of alcohol (SITHFAB002). Undertaking barista training or qualifying for a Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) certificate make great additions to your resume (or, in some cases, are requirements of the application) and can boost your employability.
Is it safe to study a CRICOS-exempt course?
Education and training providers are still required to follow Australian domestic laws and regulations for CRICOS-exempt courses. For example, providers still need to be accredited under the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) or another accrediting body. You will also be protected by consumer protection laws in situations such as refund disputes.
Your grades are also still protected, because education and training providers are still required to monitor your course progress and meet reporting requirements for your main, CRICOS-registered course. Providers must support you to make satisfactory progress in your primary course of study, so you will be able to successfully complete your studies in Australia.