School operations

International Student Program (ISP)

5. Supporting students – adjusting to life and study in Australia

The section covers: pre-arrival information, student arrival, orientation, non-commencing students, course credit, ongoing student support.


Many international students experience significant stress including homesickness, loneliness, anxiety and depression. Pre-departure information, arrival support and orientation are critical services that schools must offer to help new international students to adjust to life and study in Australia.

Throughout the student arrival and orientation process, schools must follow strict steps to support DE International Education Division (IED) to ensure the safety of an international student and the integrity of the student visa system.

Important requirements

Pre-arrival information

  • DE (IED) provides all new students with a copy of the International Student Pre-Departure Guide (PDF)External Link .
  • Students wishing to reside in Victoria with a family friend or a distant relative are required to provide information about their living arrangements as part of their application to the ISP. ISP case officers may ask a student’s family or agent to complete a separate Parent-Nominated Homestay form (DOCX)External Link if the required information was not provided during the ISP application process.
  • For students where the school has agreed to pick up the student at the airport, students need clear advice from schools about their pick up location and emergency contact details prior to arrival.

Supporting students – student arrival

  • For students where the school has agreed to pick up the student at the airport:
    • A suitable school representative must collect the student on arrival at the airport.
    • Contingency arrangements must be in place to ensure the student can be collected on arrival if the nominated school representative is unable to do so.
    • Students must be accompanied to their homestay residence.
  • Schools are not responsible for the arrival of accompanying adults. Adults must arrange their own transportation and accommodation.
  • Schools must designate a staff member to be the official point of contact for international students, for example the International Student Coordinator (ISC).
  • Schools must provide international students with a Student Safety Card (DOCX)External Link at the time of commencement of the course which includes the school’s contact details, including 24/7 contact details for the school’s student contact officer/ISC and general emergency contact information.

Non-commencing students

  • An international student must start their course on the date specified on their Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE).
  • Students may request to change their start date prior to being granted a student visa by completing a Change Request Form (PDF)External Link and emailing this to DE (IED) at
  • Once a student is granted a visa, the course start date can only be changed if there are compassionate or compelling circumstances. This is referred to as deferring course commencement. Only DE (IED) can approve a request to defer course commencement.
  • Schools must notify DE (IED) at immediately when they become aware that an international student has not or cannot start on the first day of school. Where a student does not commence on the start date specified on the student’s CoE, DE (IED) is required to report the student in PRISMS within 14 days of the non-commencement.

Supporting students – orientation

  • Schools must tailor their orientation program (DOCX)External Link to the age and cultural needs of the student.
  • The orientation information must include support services to help students adjust to life and study in Australia, English language and study assistance programs, any relevant legal services, emergency and health services, the schools facilities and resources, complaints and appeals processes, requirements for attendance and course progress, support services to assist students with general or personal needs and information on work rights (if appropriate).

Course credit

  • Students must already have a CoE in order to apply for course credit (PDF)External Link .
  • Students can only apply for course credit for Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) units as part of the Secondary Course and the Victorian College of Arts (VCASS) Secondary Course.
  • Schools decide whether a student is eligible for course credit and assist students to apply to the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA)External Link to verify eligibility for course credit.
  • The VCAA assess applications and grants course credit for the purposes of the VCE. If course credit is granted, VCAA will provide the student with a record of this decision through the Victorian Assessment Software System (VASS). Once this record is provided, the school must provide this to DE (IED) for final approval.

Ongoing student support

  • School must ensure that reasonable learning, welfare and English language support are provided to all international students as required throughout their studies.
  • Schools must regularly update parents/guardians on student academic progress and welfare issues. Most schools do this by inviting parents living in Australia to parent-teacher interviews at least twice a year. If parents are living overseas, the school may arrange phone interviews. Schools have access to the department’s interpreting and translating services to assist with these discussions – refer to: Interpreting and Translation Services. Some International Student Coordinators also meet with parents overseas during department organised marketing trips.
  • If parents request a written translated school or VSL report, host schools must provide this in the relevant language. If a school chooses to translate all written reports, they can also do this.
  • Schools must have sufficient student support personnel to meet the needs of the international students enrolled at the school. Schools must demonstrate this through completion of the ISP Student Support Self-assessment Tool (DOCX)External Link .
  • Schools must ensure their staff members who interact directly with international students are aware of the school’s obligations under the ESOS framework.
  • The ISC and student support staff members must engage in training and professional development in:

School responsibilities and guidance

Pre-arrival information

Preparing for a student’s arrival from overseas when staying in a school-arranged homestay
  1. Complete the ISP Arrival Support Form (Melbourne airport) (DOCX)External Link or ISP Arrival Support Form (Avalon airport) (DOCX)External Link and ISP Homestay Profile FormExternal Link . Schools will receive an international student’s completed ISP Flight Details Form (DOCX)External Link from DE (IED) to assist in completing the required forms. Translated versions of the ISP Arrival Support Form (Melbourne Airport) are available in Chinese (DOCX)External Link , Khmer (DOCX)External Link and Vietnamese (DOCX)External Link .
  2. Forward both forms to DE (IED) no later than 10 business days before the scheduled course commencement.
  3. Organise a suitable school representative to collect the student from the airport. Schools should develop and maintain a register of appropriate personnel who are suitable to collect students from the airport.
  4. Provide the student with emergency contact details for the school principal and school staff member designated as the official point of contact for international students, for example the International Student Coordinator.
Preparing for a student’s arrival when already onshore or transferring from another school when staying in a school-arranged homestay

Arrival support

Student airport arrival (for Level 2 schools only, and only for Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare (CAAW) students living in school-arranged homestays)
  1. Ensure the school representative meeting the student at the airport has a sign identifying themselves with the school logo and the student’s name.
  2. Identify themselves to the student using formal photo identification (either a driver’s licence or passport).
  3. Confirm the international student’s identity using their passport.
  4. Confirm the student’s and parent contact details.
  5. Assist with luggage collection.
  6. Arrange for the student to telephone home to advise parents of their safe arrival or ensure the student has done this themselves.
  7. Transport the student to their homestay.
  8. Notify DE (IED) that the student has arrived and has been transported to their homestay.
  9. Notify DE (IED) immediately if a student did not arrive in Australia on the anticipated day (refer to Critical Incidents).

Non-commencing students

Student wants to change their start date before the first day of school
  1. If a student’s visa has not been granted and needs to change their commencement date, ask the student to complete a Change Request Form (PDF)External Link and submit it to DE (IED).
  2. If a student has had their visa granted and needs to change their commencement date prior to commencement, ask the student to complete a Change Request Form and submit it to DE (IED) together with evidence of compassionate or compelling circumstances. This is a deferral. DE (IED) will assess and approve these requests only if evidence of compassionate or compelling circumstances are provided.
Student did not start on the first day
  1. Call all emergency contacts for the international student, including their parents/family.
  2. If contact cannot be made with the student or their parents/family, send a text message and email notifying the student and their parents that the student has not arrived or cannot be found.
  3. Notify DE (IED) immediately if a student does not attend on the first day of school (and DE (IED) has not approved a deferred commencement).
  4. Record the student absent for the first day of school in CASES21, and for each day that the student is not in attendance there-after.
  5. Advise DE (IED) within a day when the student does arrive at school.

Supporting students – orientation

Develop an orientation program
  1. Prepare an age and culturally appropriate orientation program (DOCX)External Link for new international students.
  2. Check that all mandatory requirements are included in the orientation by using the ISP Student Orientation Checklist (DOCX)External Link .
Conduct the orientation program
  1. Upon arrival, introduce and welcome new students to the school.
  2. Conduct the prepared orientation program.
  3. Introduce students to school staff including the school principal and support staff (for example the school nurse, school counsellor, wellbeing coordinator and pathways/careers coordinator)
  4. Match the international student with a local student (buddy).
  5. Introduce fellow students.
  6. Tour the school and provide a map of the school.
  7. Provide the student with information about support services and resources as listed in the ISP Student Orientation Checklist.
  8. Notify DE (IED) of changes to student’s enrolment (for example, changes in year level placement).
Additional student support
  1. Check all new student’s wellbeing regularly across the first 2 months.
  2. If student is attending ELC at another location, continue to check on the student’s wellbeing and speak to teachers to identify any additional support needs to help the student to adjust.
  3. Provide any necessary welfare or learning support to help the student adjust to life in Australia and/or studies at school.
  4. Escalate any issues to the school principal if not resolved through reasonable support by school officers.

Course credit

  1. School staff (VCE coordinator, ISC) determines whether a student is eligible for course credit. Refer to the VCAA websiteExternal Link for further information.
  2. If the student is eligible for course credit, school staff assists them to apply for course credit to the VCAA, for example, assist in requesting evidence from an overseas or interstate learning provider, if required.
  3. Seek principal endorsement.
  4. The principal must decide whether or not to endorse the application and notify school staff of the decision.
  5. If not endorsed, notify the student that the application was not endorsed by the principal and will not be submitted to VCAA.
  6. If endorsed by principal, submit completed application form to VCAA – the principal (or delegate) is required to sign this form in the appropriate field.
  7. If credit is granted, notify the student, their nominated correspondent and DE (IED) of the outcome of the application, in writing.
  8. Notify DE (IED) of the outcome and of any expected changes to the student’s enrolment details, such as course duration or reduction in full-time workload. DE (IED) must endorse the granting of the course credit for international students for it to be accepted.
  9. Keep a copy of the VCAA decision on the student file and forward a copy to DE (IED).
  10. If course credit is not granted, notify the student of the VCAA decision in writing, if required (that is, where VCAA hasn’t notified student directly).
  11. Record response on student file in accordance with the ISP Record Keeping Procedural GuidelinesExternal Link .

Compliance evidence

Schools must ensure the following information is available for audit:

  1. attendance records in CASES21
  2. Level 2 schools only:
  3. ISP Student Orientation Checklist (DOCX)External Link (for all international students)
  4. application for credit towards the VCE/VCE Vocational Major – form
  5. copy of the VCAA course credit decision
  6. confirmation of DE (IED)’s endorsement of course credit
  7. evidence of school staff training in relation to the ESOS framework, the National Code and the VRQA Guidelines for the Enrolment of Overseas Students Aged under 18 Years
  8. ISP Student Support Self-Assessment Tool (DOCX)External Link
  9. Change Request Form (PDF)External Link
  10. ISP Student Safety Card (DOCX)External Link
Section 5 of the ISP School Toolkit on pre-arrival information, student arrival, orientation, non-commencing students, course credit and ongoing student support

Reviewed 13 February 2024

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