Overseas Students

The Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman investigates complaints that international students have with private education providers. A private education provider can be a school, college or university in Australia.

We provide support to future, current or former students.

Our service is free and we do not charge for making a complaint.

We also provide information on best practice complaint-handling for private education providers.

How we work:

  • investigate complaints about private education providers in Australia
  • provide information about best practice complaint-handling
  • publish reports on issues in international education.

What we can help you with:

You can complain about your private education provider if you believe they may not have followed the rules or treated you fairly. Complaints might be about:

  • refusing admission to a course
  • fees and refunds
  • course or provider transfers
  • course progress or attendance
  • cancellation of enrolment
  • accommodation or work arranged by your provider
  • incorrect advice given by an education agent.

To read more about how we can help, visit our Tools and Resources page or read our factsheets for further information about:

  • attendance
  • course progress
  • education agents
  • fees and refunds
  • transferring between education providers
  • written agreements
  • overseas student health cover
  • grades and assessments.

We cannot help you with:

  • complaints about a public education provider
  • complaints about the quality of your education provider. For example:
    • the qualifications and experience of your teachers
    • the quality of the teaching in your course
    • the resources at your school, college or university, for example: equipment or library resources
    • the building, class room and amount of space available for your course
    • issues about the relocation of your school, college or university campus.

You will need to contact the Australian Skills Quality Authority if you:

  • have a complaint about the quality of a Vocational Education and Training (VET) course, or
  • have a complaint about the quality of a stand-alone English language course.

You can call the Australian Skills Quality Authority information line on 1300 701 801 between 9am and 7pm Eastern Standard Time, Monday to Friday.

Contact the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) if you have a complaint about the quality of:

  • a higher education course
  • an English language course that is a pathway to a higher education course or

a foundation course.

If we are unable to help, where possible, we will provide you with details of other organisations which may be able to assist you further. See our frequently asked questions for more information.

Before you make a complaint

You should try to resolve the complaint with your education provider before contacting us.

If you are not satisfied with a decision made by your private education provider:

  • ask about their internal complaints process
  • check their appeals process.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of a complaint to your education provider, you can contact us.

How to make a complaint

Online

You can make a complaint online by using our online complaint form.

Phone

You can contact us by telephone, 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

In Australia, call: 1300 362 072 (calls from mobile phones at mobile phone rates). Outside Australia, call +61 2 6276 0111.

Using an interpreter

You can make a complaint in your language. Call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) in Australia on 131 450.

Outside Australia call +61 3 9203 4027.  We will pay for the interpreter.

Further information about making a complaint is available here.

Click here to find more information about services available to assist you to make a complaint.

Visit our tools and resources page for common complaint information, frequently asked questions and more.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman can investigate complaints from international students about private education providers in Australia