Australian has a strong consumer protection framework to protect the rights of Australian consumers, including international students in Australia. The Australian Consumer Law includes a national law guaranteeing consumer rights when buying goods and services.
Visit www.australia.gov.au or www.consumerlaw.gov.au to find the relevant government agency for where you are living and studying.
Overseas Students Ombudsman
The Overseas Students Ombudsman (OSO) investigates complaints about problems that overseas students have with private education and training institutions in Australia. The Ombudsman’s services are free, independent and impartial. You can find out more about this service on their website: www.oso.gov.au The OSO also produces an email newsletter for international students. You can subscribe to the newsletter on the OSO website: www.oso.gov.au
If you are studying at a public institution, such as TAFE colleges and many universities and schools, you should contact the Ombudsman in the state or territory in which you are studying to lodge a complaint. You can find details of what the Ombudsman can investigate on their website.
Tuition Protection Service
The Tuition Protection Service (TPS) is an initiative of the Australian Government to assist you if your institution (referred to as ‘Education Provider’ under the TPS) is unable to fully deliver your course of study. The TPS may also assist you if you have withdrawn from, or not started, your course and are eligible for a refund of tuition fees and the institution has not paid them.
For more information visit the Tuition Protection Service website https://tps.gov.au/Home/NotLoggedIn
Australia has a number of student associations representing and assisting students from Australian institutions.
National associations include Council of International Students Australia (CISA) www.cisa.edu.au – national peak student representative body for international students studying at the postgraduate, undergraduate, private college, TAFE, ELICOS and foundation level.
- Australian Federation of International Students (AFIS) www.afis.org.au – assisting international students in maximizing the scope and potential of their experience living and studying in Australia.
Australia has laws that protect individuals from discrimination in many areas of public life, including education. A person with a disability has just as much right to study as any other student. This means that institutions cannot:
- Refuse admission on the basis of disability.
- Accept a student with a disability on less favourable terms than other students (for example, asking for higher fees).
- Deny or limit access to a student with a disability (for example, not allowing access to excursions, or having inaccessible student common rooms or lecture facilities).
If you are experiencing a problem with your institution, you should first talk to staff at your institution. If informal discussions do not resolve the problem, you have the option of lodging a formal complaint. Institutions are required to have a process for students to register complaints. If you feel you have a legitimate complaint that is not being recognised by your institution, you should approach the Australian Human Rights Commission. Confidential enquiries can be made by telephone but a formal complaint must be lodged in writing before the commission can take action. Find out more about disability rights in Australia at the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission.