Do you need to comply?

Yes, if a school intends conducting its own student exchange programs.

Conditions of compliance

In order to run student exchange programs, schools must be registered as a student exchange organization (SEO) with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA).

Student exchange programs (SEP) range from a minimum of 29 days to a maximum of twelve months in duration. Students enter Australia on a student visa, for which reciprocity must be maintained. The student is enrolled within the school, studying formal subjects at age appropriate levels. At the completion of the exchange a statement of achievement is provided.

In order to obtain a student visa the student must enter Australia under the auspices of an organisation, group or school approved by the VRQA to operate a student exchange program.

Note: Schools hosting students on a cultural visit do not need to register as an exchange organisation. (Students on cultural visits (maximum 3 months), enter Australia on a tourist visa. Cultural visits may involve the exchange of students on a school to school basis or may be organised by a commercial operator. Students are visitors in the school and school study is not the major focus. Students on these visas may not attend school on a regular basis and are not to be enrolled in schools.)

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

Government and non-government schools seeking registration as an exchange organisation must submit an application through the VRQA.

Schools must also lodge an application for VRQA re-approval when their registration expires.

In the application, schools must address the following issues:

  • Background History and Structure of the School
  • Purpose of Exchanges
  • Administrative Support
  • Not-for-Profit Status and Financial Viability
  • Privacy
  • Insurance
  • Duty of Care
  • Support for Students and Host Families
  • Selection of Students – Incoming and Outgoing
  • Selection of Host Families
  • Resolution of Problems
  • Orientation for Students and Host Families
  • School Liaison
  • Travel
  • Health Insurance
  • Promotion Documentation
  • Emergency Management Plan
  • Third Party Arrangements.

There are also accountability and reporting requirements of registered exchange organisations/schools.

Registered exchange organisations/schools which have not been active in student exchanges for a period of three years or more will automatically lose registration and will be required to reapply for registration in order to operate student exchange programs.

What are the consequences if you don’t comply?

If your school is not approved by the VRQA for inclusion in the register of approved organisations promoting or accepting student exchanges, then students will not be able to obtain a student visa for entry to Australia as an exchange student at your school.

Organisations which do not comply with reciprocity requirements over a three year period may have their registration as approved providers suspended or terminated.

ISV contacts

Peter Roberts
Director, School Services
Ph. 03 9825 7211

Kieren Noonan
Head of Innovation
Ph. 03 9825 7275

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