Definitions and acronyms






Accrediting authority

Refers to the organisation designated by or under legislation of the Australian Government or appropriate state or territory government to accredit persons or organisations to offer education or training services to Australian students.


An education facility or site of the registered provider where classroom-based teaching or off the job training occurs.

Compulsory study period

A compulsory study period is one in which the student must enrol unless granted a deferment or suspension from enrolment or leave of absence under Standard 13 (Deferring, suspending or cancelling the student’s enrolment). A compulsory study period does not include periods in which the student can elect to undertake additional studies. See also Study period.

Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE)

A document, provided electronically, which is issued by the registered provider to intending overseas students and which must accompany their application for a student visa. It confirms the overseas student’s eligibility to enrol in the particular course of the registered provider.

Corrective action

Action to eliminate the cause of a detected nonconformity or other undesirable situation.


A course of education or training as defined in the ESOS Act.

Course-related fees


  • all course money as defined by Section 7 of the ESOS Act
  • all optional fees or charges.

Course credit

Exemption from enrolment in a particular part of the course as a result of previous study, experience or recognition of a competency currently held. Includes academic credit and recognition of prior learning.

Course money

As defined by Section 7 of the ESOS Act, means money a provider receives, directly or indirectly, from:

  • an overseas student or intending overseas student; or
  • another person who pays the money on behalf of an overseas student or intending overseas student,

for a course that the provider is providing, or offering to provide, to the overseas student. This includes tuition fees, any amount received by the provider for overseas student health cover, and any other amount that the student had to pay to the provider in order to undertake the course.

Course progress

The measure of advancement within a course towards the completion of that course irrespective of whether course completion is identified through academic merit or skill based competencies.


The Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) is the register prescribed under Section 10 of the ESOS Act.

Critical incident

A traumatic event, or the threat of such (within or outside Australia), which causes extreme stress, fear or injury.

Designated authority

As defined by Section 5 of the ESOS Act, means a person responsible under the law of a state for approving providers to provide courses to overseas students in that state.

Distance learning

Study in which the teacher and overseas student are separated in time or space throughout the duration of the unit of study (including online learning), but does not include study where the student is resident in his or her home country or another country offshore and does not hold a student visa. Distance learning differs from online learning in that the study may be undertaken through written correspondence and exchange of hard copy materials.

Domestic student

Refers to all students who are not overseas students as defined in the National Code.

Education agent

A person or organisation (in or outside Australia) who recruits overseas students and refers them to education providers. In doing so, the education agent may provide education counselling to overseas students as well as marketing and promotion services to education providers.

Education agent does not refer to an education institution with whom an Australian provider has an agreement for the provision of education (that is teaching activities).


Where the student has been issued with a CoE to confirm acceptance by the registered provider and is occupying a place in the CRICOS registered course for which the student was accepted and is progressing towards the completion of the course requirements. The period of enrolment includes scheduled breaks between study periods.

ESOS framework

Principally comprises the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act), the Education Services for Overseas Students Regulations 2000 (the ESOS Regulations), the Education Services for Overseas Students (Registration Charges) Act 1997 (the ESOS Charges Act) and the National Code.

The ESOS framework is supported by the Migration Act 1958 and the Migration Regulations 1994 and various state and territory legislation relevant to the education of overseas students.


Includes electronic and paper-based formats.


Promotion of the provider and its courses and facilities to prospective overseas students and their parents or guardians, education agents, international organisations and other interested parties such as alumni.

Migration agent

A person registered as a migration agent as per section 286 of the Migration Act 1958.

Mixed mode

See mode of study

Mode of study

Includes attendance face-to-face in a classroom, supervised study on the registered provider’s campus, distance learning, online learning and work-based learning. Mixed mode refers to a combination of two or more of these modes.

Online learning

Study in which the teacher and overseas student communicate mainly through electronic technologies for the unit. For the purpose of the National Code, permissible online learning does not include study where the student is resident in his or her home country or another country, does not hold a student visa and is undertaking a unit of study with a registered provider which is located in Australia.

Overseas student

A person (whether within or outside Australia) who holds a student visa as defined by the ESOS Act, but does not include students of a kind prescribed in the ESOS Regulations.
Where the student is under 18 years of age and the student is required to exercise rights or enter obligations as a legal person, this term may refer to the student’s parent or legal guardian.

Preventative action

Action to eliminate the cause of a possible nonconformity or otherwise undesirable potential situation.

Principal course of study

The principal course of study refers to the main course of study to be undertaken by an overseas student where a student visa has been issued for multiple courses of study. The principal course of study would normally be the final course of study where the overseas student arrives in Australia with a student visa that covers multiple courses.


The Provider Registration and International Student Management System (PRISMS) is the system used to process information given to the Secretary of DEST by registered providers.


An institution or other body or person in Australia that provides or seeks to provide CRICOS registered courses to overseas students as defined by the ESOS Act.

Provider default

Where the registered provider fails to provide a course or ceases to provide a course to an overseas student in accordance with Section 27(1) of the ESOS Act.


The pre-enrolment processes of engaging and assisting overseas students (or parent or guardian if the overseas student is under 18) to apply for a place in a course with a provider leading up to the formal enrolment, including assistance with administrative issues and the issuing of a Confirmation of Enrolment for an application for a student visa.

Registered provider

The process whereby a provider is recommended by a designated authority for registration under the ESOS Act to provide a specified course in that state to overseas students; and the provider is registered by the Secretary of DEST on CRICOS.

Registration includes re-registration.

Scheduled course contact hours

The hours for which students enrolled in the course are scheduled to attend classes, course-related information sessions, supervised study sessions, mandatory and supervised work-based training and examinations.

Self-accrediting provider

Self-accrediting institutions are established by or under relevant Australian Government or state or territory government legislation with the authority to accredit their own courses.


Includes the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.


Refers to an overseas student as defined above in all cases except where otherwise explicitly stated.

Student contact officer

Employee(s) of the registered provider deemed to have an appropriate level of skill, knowledge and expertise who is able to provide advice to overseas students on a range of matters.

Student default

Where an overseas student does not start a course or withdraws from a course as defined in Section 27(2) of the ESOS Act.

Student visa

An authorisation permitting people who are not Australian citizens or permanent residents to come to Australia for the primary purpose of studying in Australia as defined by the Migration Act 1958.

Study period

A discrete period of study within a course, namely term, semester, trimester, short course of similar or lesser duration, or as otherwise defined by the registered provider as long as that period does not exceed six months. See also Compulsory study period.


A discrete component of study within a course; the term includes ‘subject’ and ‘module’.

Welfare-related support services

Services which address the mental, physical, social and spiritual well-being of overseas students. These services may include, through direct provision or referral, information/advice about: accommodation, counselling, crisis services, disabilities and equity issues, financial matters, legal issues, medical issues, mental health, peer mentoring, programmes promoting social interaction, religious and spiritual matters, and stress-management.


Acronyms and abbreviations



Confirmation of Enrolment


Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students


Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection


English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students


Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000

ESOS regulations

Education Services for Overseas Students Regulations 2001


Provider Registration and International Students Management System