School operations

International Student Program (ISP)


The purpose of this policy is to explain that the International Student Program School Toolkit (in the Guidance tab) is the definitive compliance guide setting out all requirements for Victorian government schools participating in the International Student Program.


  • The International Student Program School Toolkit (Guidance tab) provides a plain-language interpretation of all International Student Program policies, procedures and legislative requirements that schools need to follow in response to typical situations that arise throughout the life cycle of an international school student engaged in study in a Victorian government school.
  • All forms and templates necessary for schools to use in their daily operations to comply with their ESOS obligations can be accessed in the Resources tab.
  • An 'educational resources' section is provided in the Resources tab for each section to support schools’ understanding of key ESOS requirements. Further support is available to schools through dedicated school support staff within the International Education Division.


Types of international students

International students come to Victoria for a range of different reasons, and only some of these international students are required to enrol in the Department’s International Student Program (ISP) and pay fees.

The following international student categories make up the ISP:

  1. Standard students: hold a 500 Student Schools visa or 571 Schools Sector visa. Standard students are usually in Australia without their parents, and study for a period of 12 months of more in order to receive an education and obtain a Victorian Certificate of Education.
  2. Study Abroad students: hold a 500 Student Schools visa or 571 Schools Sector visa. Study Abroad students study for a period of 12 months or less in order to experience living and studying overseas.
  3. Dependant students: are listed as dependants on their parent’s visa. Their parents are usually university or higher education students, or working in Victoria.
  4. Temporary students either:
    • hold a 600 Visitor’s visa and can study for up to 12 weeks as part of a tourism experience
    • hold a Bridging visa while they await the outcome of a new visa application. Temporary students on a Bridging visa can study for longer than 12 weeks.

Additional legislative requirements for some international students

Standard and Study Abroad international students who are participating in the ISP are subject to additional legislation, including the Education Services for Overseas Student Act 2000 (Cth) (ESOS). The ISP School Toolkit on the following pages outlines ESOS-compliant policies and procedures that schools must follow in relation to Standard and Study Abroad students.

Tuition fee liability

Whether an international student needs to enrol in the ISP and pay fees is determined by the visa held by the student. Schools can use the Visa Fee Table to determine which students need to enrol in the ISP and pay fees.

It is important that international students are enrolled correctly so that families do not accrue unpaid tuition fees and schools are reimbursed for the cost of educating international students. If after reading the Visa Fee Table schools are still unsure whether an international student should be enrolled in the ISP and paying fees, please contact the International Education Division on 7022 1000 or at for advice.

Enrolling international students

Students who are determined as fee liable must enrol in the ISP which is administered by the Department’s International Education Division. Fee paying international students must not start at schools until they have enrolled in the ISP and the Department has confirmed with the school that they have a place for the student. Following this, schools must then wait to be informed by the Department that the international student has completed their ISP enrolment and paid the first semester’s fees in advance before the student can commence at the school. 

Standard and Study Abroad international students usually apply directly to the Department’s International Education Division (IED) to enrol in the ISP. Where this occurs, the Department will contact the school to confirm that the school has a place available for the student, refer to Admissions Section 3.

However, some international students — usually Dependant and Temporary international students — may also present at the school requiring the school to determine whether the student is a fee-paying international student by asking to see their visa. Accordingly, schools should ensure that all support staff involved in enrolling students or processing enrolment applications understand how to use the Visa Fee Table and how to identify if an international student is a fee paying student.

ISP School Toolkit

Schools must:

  • adhere to all mandatory (must do) policy as outlined in the International Student Program (ISP) School Toolkit
  • adhere to all prohibited (must not do) policy as outlined in the ISP School Toolkit

The ISP School Toolkit is set out in the Guidance tab in the following sections:

Definitions of key terms used in the ISP School Toolkit are outlined below.


Applicants refers to international students (and their parent/s or legal guardian/s) who apply for enrolment in an ISP course.

Compassionate circumstances
Compassionate circumstances refers to circumstances that are not in the student’s control or created by the student and adversely impact on student welfare or course progress (for example, illness, bereavement or traumatic events may qualify), as assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Compelling circumstances
Compelling circumstances are circumstances which in the opinion of DET / IED are in the student’s best interests, as assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Course refers to a course registered on CRICOS offered by the Department of Education and Training (under DET / IED).

CRICOS stands for the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students that lists all Australian education providers that offer courses to people studying in Australia on student visas and the courses offered.

Critical incidents
Critical incidents are traumatic events, or the threat of such (within or outside Australia), which causes extreme stress, fear or injury to an international student.

Department of Education and Training — International Education Division. IED is the division in DET that administers the International Student Program in Victorian government schools. IED is not a separate entity to DET. DET is the CRICOS registered provider.

DET (IED) staff
Includes the Executive Officers, managers and employees (full time, part time, ongoing, fixed term, casual and contractor) of DET who work directly or indirectly with the ISP. This excludes school staff.

Department of Home Affairs.

ESOS Act 2000 or ESOS Act
ESOS Act 2000 or ESOS Act refers to the Education Services for Overseas Student’s Act 2000 (Cth) governing DET’s International Student Program.

Education agents
Education agents are accredited by DET (IED) to recruit students for an ISP course.

International student accommodation arranged by schools or nominated by parents where DET (IED) is responsible for the welfare of the student at all times, including outside school hours.

Homestay provider
Homestay provider is typically a member of the school community and refers to the provision of homestay services to an international student. Homestay is a term used to describe full board accommodation offered by a family, a couple or a single person for which a fee may be charged.

International Student Program (ISP)
For the purpose of this document is defined as the program administered by DET (IED).

International student (students)
For the purpose of the ISP and this document, an international student is a student who holds a student visa (as defined in the ESOS Act 2000). Students who enter Australia on a dependent persons visa or any other visa type do not fall under the provisions of the ESOS Act and the ESOS requirements do not apply to them.

Letter of Offer
Letter of Offer is the document sent to the applicant (via the education agent, if applicable) which includes the Written Agreement, enrolment details, the accommodation and welfare option applicable, tuition fees, and instructions on how to accept the offer.

Parent refers to the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of an international student.

Residents (people living or frequently residing in the homestay)
Residents means people who live in the homestay permanently or on a long term basis of 30 days or more. This includes people who frequently reside in the homestay for short durations over a long term, for example weekly overnight stays in the homestay for the duration of a year.

Scheduled contact hours
Scheduled contact hours refers to course hours that the student has been scheduled to attend, which may or may not equate to the total school hours. For example, if a school has 6 periods in a day but the student only has 4 periods of course contact per day then the student will have attended all scheduled course hours if they attend the 4 periods (the 2 remaining school periods will not count towards the student’s absences).

For the purpose of this policy and guidance, school is defined as a school accredited by DET (IED) to deliver an ISP.

School staff
Employees of schools, for example — International Student Coordinator, Homestay Coordinator, Head of Department, Deputy Principal, and Principal.

Victorian Assessment Software System.

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority.

Victorian Certificate of Education.

Written Agreement
An agreement with the international student or intending international student and their parent, which includes standard terms and conditions signed by the international student (if 18 years old or older) as well their parent. The Written Agreement cannot be signed or accepted by an agent on behalf of the student or their parent.

Relevant legislation

Department policy introducing the ISP School Toolkit as the definitive compliance guide setting out all requirements for participating in the International Student Program

Reviewed 19 February 2021

Policy last updated

15 June 2020


  • Schools


International Education Division

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