Do you need to comply?

Yes. Note that different conditions apply depending on the visa carried by the student.

Conditions of compliance

The Commonwealth Department of Education distinguishes between ‘Overseas Students’, for whom schools are not eligible to receive government recurrent funding, and ‘Students on Visas’, for whom schools do receive funding. ‘Overseas Students’ were formerly referred to as ‘Full Fee Paying Overseas Students’ (FFPOS).

For the purposes of the Commonwealth census and recurrent funding, ‘Overseas Students’ are defined in Section 6 of the Australian Education Act 2013 (Cth). These students ‘hold or are included in a visa that permits the visa holder to travel to Australia for the purpose of undertaking a course provided by a body’. This means that someone is only an ‘Overseas Student’ if they are on a visa that is specifically related to studying in Australia, or a bridging visa attached to a substantive visa with those provisions.

A ‘Student on a Visa’ is any student who holds, or is a dependent of a person who holds, a permanent, bridging or temporary visa.

The Department of Education previously maintained an extensive list of visa subclasses that determined which students were regarded as ‘Students on a Visa’, rather than ‘Overseas Students’. This list ceased to exist in June 2014.

Only students who are the primary visa holder, or the dependent of a primary visa holder, that is issued for the purposes of study are ‘Overseas Students’. As at July 2016, the only student visa subclasses included in this category are subclass 500 (prior to this date, they were 570, 571, 572, 573, 574, and 575). All other students would be regarded as ‘Students on a Visa’.

‘Overseas Students’ do not include:

  • dependents of a person who is receiving a full sponsorship or scholarship to one of the institutions mentioned in section 4(1) of the Higher Education Funding Act 1988 (Cth). The sponsorship or scholarship has to meet the full cost of the education component of the course, or
  • a person or dependent of a person who is receiving a sponsorship or scholarship from the Commonwealth, or
  • students who are studying in Australia under a properly registered student exchange program (Exchange Students).

Schools should note that exchange students:

  • who are on exchange programs for a period shorter than six months in a program year, or
  • who have completed their formal schooling in their own country, or
  • who are taking part in a Student Exchange Program that is not registered by the Victorian Registration and Qualification Authority (VRQA)

are not defined as Exchange Students for Census and funding purposes. These students should not be included in the Commonwealth Census, and the school would not receive funding for these students. All other exchange students would be included in the Census as ‘Students on a Visa’ and would attract government funding.

If you have to comply, what do you have to do?

Schools can enrol a ‘Student on a Visa’, who is any student who holds, or is a dependent of a person who holds, a permanent, bridging or temporary visa.

Non-government schools cannot enrol Overseas Students (previously known as Full Fee Paying Overseas Students (FFPOS)) travelling on their own student visa subclass 500, 571 or 570 unless the school is registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). Further information is available on Overseas Students.

Students who hold a visitor’s visa are not legally able to be enrolled in certain courses and can only study for a three-month period. Generally, a student on a visitor’s visa can enrol in a school for up to three months but the school does not receive any recurrent funding.

Schools are expected to keep up-to-date records of student visa details at all times. The allocation of students to a particular category is dependent on their visa status on Census day. Where a school includes a student in the ‘Students on a Visa’ category, the school is required to retain copies of the student’s or parent’s visa information, documentation and assessment material used by the school to make the decision that the student satisfies the definition for inclusion as a Student on a Visa.

What are the consequences if you don’t comply?

Independent schools receive funding from the Australian Government under the Australian Education Act 2013 (Cth) subject to the conditions which are set out in the Act. One of the conditions of the funding agreement is the completion of the Commonwealth Census, which asks schools to provide the number of overseas students they have enrolled.

ISV contacts

Peter Roberts
Director, School Services
Ph. 03 9825 7211

Links, resources and downloads