School operations

International Student Program (ISP)


This policy outlines the different types of international students (including fee-paying and fee-exempt) according to the student’s visa, the international student enrolment process and the legislative and department accreditation requirements for schools hosting particular fee-paying international students.


  • Schools should use the International Student Visa Fee Table (DOCX)External Link to determine which students need to enrol in the department’s International Student Program (ISP) and pay fees.
  • Schools can view a 25-minute training video on How to identify and enrol international studentsExternal Link .
  • Victorian government schools must be accredited by the department to accept international students who hold a student visa in their own name (the department refers to these students as Standard and Study Abroad students). The ISP School Toolkit on the Guidance tab sets out the policies, procedures and additional legislative requirements that these accredited schools must follow.


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 ISP and pay fees. The following international student categories make up the ISP. Schools should refer to the International Student Visa Fee Table (DOCX)External Link to determine whether a student needs to pay fees based on their visa sub-class and category.

  1. Standard students (accredited schools only): hold a 500 Student Schools visa or 571 Schools Sector visa in their own name. Standard students are usually in Australia for a period of 12 months or more in order to receive an education and obtain the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) or VCE Vocational Major.
  2. Study Abroad students (accredited schools only): hold a 500 Student Schools visa or 571 Schools Sector visa in their own name. 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.

Tuition fee liability

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

International students must be 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 department's International Education Division (DET (IED)) on 03 7022 1000 or at for advice.

Students who are fee liable must enrol in the ISP which is administered by DET (IED).

Enrolling international students

Fee-paying international students must not start at school until their enrolment in the ISP is complete and the department has confirmed with the school that they have a place for the student.

Schools must wait to be informed by the department that the student has completed their ISP enrolment and the international student has paid their fees in advance before they may commence at the school.

Standard and Study Abroad international students usually apply directly to DET (IED) to enrol in the ISP. Where this occurs, the department will contact the accredited school to confirm that the school has a place available for the student, refer to Admissions – Section 3.

However, some international students, often 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. Schools should direct these students to enrol in the ISP and must wait for confirmation from DET (IED) that they have enrolled and paid fees before the student can start at school. Schools may direct prospective students to:

Schools should ensure that all support staff involved in enrolling students or processing enrolment applications understand how to use the International Student Visa Fee Table (DOCX)External Link and how to identify if an international student is a fee paying student.

School Education Services for Overseas Students accreditation and the ISP School Toolkit

Victorian government schools must be Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS)-accredited by DET (IED) to enrol any Standard and Study Abroad international students.

Schools do not need to be ESOS-accredited to enrol temporary residents on other visas (for example, Dependant and Temporary students).

Schools seeking to become ESOS-accredited or change their ESOS-accreditation should read the ISP ESOS Accreditation Guide (DOCX)External Link . Schools should first contact DET (IED) at to discuss the rationale for seeking accreditation before submitting an application.

Schools seeking an accreditation decision by DET (IED) will need to complete the ISP ESOS Accreditation Application Form (DOCX)External Link , ISP Student Support Self-Assessment Tool (DOCX)External Link and ISP School Compliance Attestation (DOCX)External Link and provide these documents to for a decision by DET (IED).

There are 2 types of ESOS-accreditation for Victorian government schools – Level 1 or Level 2 accreditation.

  • Level 1 accreditation is available to primary schools, and to secondary schools which do not allow homestay arrangements or undertake marketing activities.
  • Level 2 accreditation is required for schools that facilitate homestay arrangements or undertake active marketing or promotion. Level 2 accreditation is not available to primary schools.

The department is the Commonwealth registered education provider for all educational services delivered to international students in Victorian government schools, and DET (IED) accredits Victorian government schools under its registration. Schools are accredited for a specific period of time, and have a maximum international student enrolment cap.

All ESOS-accredited Victorian government schools must meet the International Student Program School Toolkit requirements on the Guidance tab to ensure they provide high-quality academic and welfare services for international students, consistent with legislative requirements.

DET (IED) works with ESOS-accredited schools to build their ISP capability and to monitor school compliance. Where DET (IED) identifies serious and/or repeated non-compliance, DET (IED) is responsible for undertaking actions to support schools to meet their compliance obligations, and where necessary may decide to change, pause or cease a school’s accreditation.


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 including the VCE Vocational Major.

VCE Vocational Major
VCE Vocational Major is a vocational and applied learning program within VCE designed to be completed over a minimum of 2 years.

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 25 February 2024

Policy last updated

21 February 2024


  • Schools


International Education Division

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