The National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (National Code 2018) sets nationally consistent standards for the delivery of courses to overseas students.

The National Code 2018 commenced on 1 January 2018 and remains in force.

However, there have been some changes to the legislative framework for overseas students, which include;

Education Services for Overseas Students Regulations 2019

The Government amended the ESOS Regulations from 1 July 2021 to remove the requirement for providers to give information on the payment of tuition fees through the Provider Registration and Information Management System (PRISMS) when a calendar month ends.

The Education Services for Overseas Students (Exempt Courses) Instrument 2021 exempts some courses from the definition of course in the ESOS Act, meaning they can be offered to international students without being registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS).

For more information, visit - Department of Education - Changes to the ESOS Act

Also, visit ASQA website and subscribe to ASQA newsletter for information on any upcoming changes or regulatory updates - ESOS Providers - ASQA

Providers must ensure that they are compliant with the relevant standards and provider obligations at all times;

About the Standards for RTOs 2015

Legislative obligations - The ESOS Framework

Some of the approaches to maintaining and monitoring compliance includes (but not limited to);

  • Implement a robust quality-driven framework that includes policies, procedures, best practice guidelines/benchmarks, quality criteria and principles
  • Implement a continuous improvement-based approach to operations
  • Assign responsibilities for each of the policy areas and develop a monitoring and review process, including independent reviews
  • Collect, analyse and use quality data for reviews, such as student survey data, feedback, complaints and appeals data, student completion and performance data, and internal audit/review data as part of continuous improvement
  • Maintain a focus on student experience and academic outcomes through validation, pre-training reviews, and random sampling of student work
  • Develop a compliance calendar/schedule to capture key events and data such as student progress, regulatory reporting, internal reviews and QA meetings
  • Maintain a robust documents management system and maintain records as per the defined procedures
  • Avoid making ad-hoc decisions - follow own policies and procedures and always focus on provider obligations and student impact
  • For any issues or problems, consider the root cause, and how you will ensure that these issues are either eliminated or risk-controlled for any future occurrences. Update policies and procedures in needed, train/orient staff in the new procedures, and monitor as part of scheduled quality reviews
  • Take external help and consultation as and where needed, with a focus on developing in-house knowledge and quality-driven culture

Embedding compliance and regulatory requirements and obligations in everyday operations and policies and procedures will ensure that your institution remains compliant

CRICOS providers have an added responsibility to protect international students and meet obligations as defined under the National Code 2018.

ASQA provides detailed information and guidance on how CRICOS providers can maintain compliance in key areas. Refer to;

ESOS requirements


All the providers have an obligation to meet and maintain all the relevant standards, regulatory requirements and provider obligations at all times. However, some of the critical areas where compliance is of utmost importance includes;

Training and Assessment Strategies

Training and assessment strategies are your roadmap to your training and assessment activities. Distinct training and assessment strategies should be developed for each of providers cohorts; e.g., different strategies for different target audiences based on audience profile, expectations, learning preferences, and expected outcomes. There are specific ASQA guidelines on what must be included in the strategies as a minimum - See, Components of training and assessment strategies

Your training and assessment practices, including modes, resources, assessment requirements and methods, trainers and assessors, training package requirements, and course specific requirements must align with your strategies. In an audit, your RTO practices shall be audited against your strategies, and if your stated strategies capture the training package and requirements of Standards for RTOs 1.1 and 1.2 (SRTOs 2015). Guide to these standards is contained in the link above.

Trainers and Assessors

Trainers and assessors are key to all the RTO academic activities. Clauses 1.13 to 1.16 in the current Standards for RTOs 2015 require that;

the RTO’s training and assessment is delivered only by persons who have;

  • Vocational competencies at least to the level (AQF level) being delivered and assessed;
  • Current industry skills directly relevant to the training and assessment being provided (i.e., vocational experience and currency);
  • Current knowledge and skills in vocational training and learning that informs their training and assessment (i.e., professional development and knowledge);
  • Training and assessment is delivered and conducted only by persons who have the training and assessment credential specified in Item 2, Item 3, and Item 5 of Schedule 1 of the Standards for RTOs 2015;
  • All trainers and assessors must undertake professional development in the fields of the knowledge and practice of vocational training, learning and assessment including competency-based training and assessment

If trainers and assessors are not compliant, any judgements made by them may not be considered valid.

For detailed information and compliance guidance, visit - What clauses 1.13 to 1.16 mean for your RTO

Assessment Tools

Assessment tools are designed to assess student skills and knowledge, and must meet the requirements of the relevant units of competency within a training package, including performance criteria, performance evidence and knowledge evidence. Foundation skills for specific units must be embedded and assessed as part of the unit assessment.

Getting assessments wrong would mean issuing wrong competencies to students which would be a major risk and quality impact to your RTO. Often, providers lack the expertise to review and map the assessment tools prior to use in-house, and risk major non-compliances by directly purchasing and using third-party resources. Providers must establish a robust assessment system to ensure that they continue to meeting the obligations under Standard 1.8 of the Standards for RTOs 2018.

As per ASQA's guidelines;

Your RTO must develop and implement a system to ensure:

  • assessment judgements are consistently made on a sound basis
  • validation of assessment judgements is carried out.

An assessment system includes not only the actual materials used directly in conducting assessment, but also policies, procedures and other supporting documents and tools that inform the way assessment is conducted within your RTO.

For detailed information and compliance guidance, visit - What clauses 1.8 to 1.12 mean for your RTO

Training and Assessment Practices

In an audit, it will be determined if your "practices" are consistent with the requirements of the relevant standards. You RTO must develop a system that encompasses a full cycle planning and strategy development to training and assessment activities, records, and issuance of AQF documentation. In between, there are other key processes that support the overall system;

Industry consultation: Industry must be engaged and consulted prior to finalising or implementing a training and assessment strategy - same for all the providers - Ref: Clauses 1.5 and 1.6—Engage with industry

Pre-Training Review: This entails a review of resources, assessment conditions, assessment requirements and assessment tools prior to commencing a unit of competency. providers should implement a mandatory system - and undertake their own mapping of the assessment tools - to ensure that assessments will be conducted as per the principles of assessment and meet the requirements of the rules of evidence. Records of such reviews must be maintained.

Assessment Validation: Validation is a review of assessment judgements made by your RTO (ASQA, 2022). Validation ensures a systematic validation of assessment practices and judgements that includes for each training product on the RTO’s scope of registration. Clause 1.10 states that each training product must be validated at least once every five years, with at least 50% of products validated within the first three years of each five year cycle, taking into account the relative risks of all of the training products on the RTO’s scope of registration, including those risks identified by the VET Regulator (ASQA). 

For detailed information and compliance guidance, visit - Validation of assessment

CRICOS Providers

CRICOS providers have additional obligations under the National Code 2018. Critical areas include;

  • Marketing practices
  • Student enrolment practices, including fees and refunds
  • Student support and progression, including complaints and appeals
  • Student visa conditions, including mode, facilities, course duration, and interruptions (e.g., deferment and cancellation)
  • Data reporting

CRICOS providers should consider each of the practice area as a "system" and develop quality and compliance-based start-to-end procedures that capture the entire activity and provider a mechanism for maintaining adequate evidence and records for internal and external reviews.