Do you have a complaint about the quality of your school, college or university (education provider)?
What does the Overseas Students Ombudsman do?
The Overseas Students Ombudsman investigates complaints about problems that international students have with private schools, colleges and universities (education providers) in Australia.
If you are not satisfied with a decision or action taken by your private registered education provider, you should ask about their internal complaints and appeals process. If you complain to your education provider, but you are not satisfied with the result, you can complain to the Overseas Students Ombudsman.
What if I have a complaint about a government school, TAFE, college or university?
You should contact the Ombudsman for your State or Territory.
Who can complain to the Overseas Students Ombudsman?
Intending, current and former Overseas students can contact the Ombudsman about an action or decision taken by their private registered education provider in Australia. Family or friends of overseas students, who are concerned about a problem an overseas student is having with a private provider, can also contact the Ombudsman. See: Permission for someone else to act on my behalf form
How to make a complaint to the Overseas Students Ombudsman
You can view our Privacy Statement here.
You can make your complaint online by using our online complaint form.
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.
If you are deaf, hearing or sight impaired
You can contact us via the National Relay Service. Teletypewriter (TTY) users phone 133 677 and then ask for 1300 362 072. Speak and Listen users phone 1300 555 727 and then ask for 1300 362 072. Internet Relay users connect to the National Relay Service internet-relay.nrscall.gov.au and then ask for 1300 362 072.
You can send us a fax. In Australia: 02 6276 0123. Outside Australia: +61 2 6276 0123.
You can write a letter and post it to: Overseas Students Ombudsman
GPO Box 442
Canberra ACT 2601
The Overseas Students Ombudsman does not handle 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, library resources
- the building, class room and amount of space available for your course
- issues concerning the relocation of your school, college or university campus
Contact the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) if you have a complaint about the quality of a:
- Vocational Education and Training (VET) course or
- stand-alone English language course
ASQA's contact details are:
Phone: Call the ASQA info line on 1300 701 801 between 9.00 am and 7.00 pm Eastern Standard Time, Monday to Friday.
If you need an interpreter, please call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) on 131 450 and ask them to telephone the Australian Skills Quality Authority on 1300 701 801, between 9.00 am and 7.00 pm EST, Monday to Friday.
Post: ASQA's postal address is GPO Box 9928, Melbourne, VIC, 3001.
- Melbourne: Level 6 595 Collins Street
- Brisbane: Level 7 215 Adelaide Street
- Sydney: Level 10 255 Elizabeth Street
- Canberra: Ground Floor 64 Northbourne Avenue Canberra City.
Information about what ASQA will do after it receives your complaint is available on ASQA's Website
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
TEQSA's contact details for written complaints are:
Post: TEQSA's postal address is GPO Box 1672, Melbourne, VIC, 3001.
Information about TEQSA's approach to handling complaints is available on TEQSA's Website
TEQSA has specific confidentiality obligations. This means TEQSA is unable to provide you with details of the matters investigated by TEQSA or the outcomes of any investigation in response to a complaint, and may mean that TEQSA is unable to provide you with a specific response in relation to your complaint. Any complaints TEQSA receives about a provider will be kept and considered when TEQSA assesses whether a provider is meeting its obligations under relevant legislation.
If your complaint is about a higher education course, higher education providers have a legislative responsibility to provide students with ready access to effective grievance processes, including review by an appropriate independent third party if internal processes fail to resolve a grievance. As such, if you have not already done so, you should usually raise your complaint through your provider's internal complaint handling process, including the relevant third party review mechanism where appropriate. Your higher education provider should provide you with details of how to access the internal complaint handling process on request. You should contact TEQSA if you are concerned that you are unable to access your provider's complaint handling processes.
Complaints about sexual harassment and sexual assault can be made to your local police service, and may also be made to the Australian Human Rights Commission. There is a national support service run by 1800 RESPECT, and further support services are available in different states and territories in Australia.
The Overseas Students Ombudsman may investigate complaints about an education provider’s handling of sexual harassment or sexual assault complaints, but we cannot investigate the harassment or assault itself.
Help to find an alternative course or get a refund - Tuition Protection Service (TPS)
The Australian Government has a process in place to help a student if their education provider closes. This process is designed to help students find an alternative course or to get a refund for studies they have paid for but been unable to complete. For more information contact the Tuition Protection Service (TPS) on 02 6271 3440 or visit www.tps.gov.au.
Help to access student records - Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)
If you need to access your student records to get copies of your qualifications, completion certificates or academic transcripts of results, you should complete the Application for a copy of student records form, available from the website of the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA).
This form should be sent to ASQA either by scanning the completed form and sending it by email with the required attachments to email@example.com or by post to Student records, ASQA, GPO Box 9928, Melbourne VIC 3000.
If you need help understanding this form, contact the ASQA Info line on telephone 1300 701 801 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions about your visa - Department of Home Affairs
If you have any questions or concerns about your visa, please contact the Department of Home Affairs for more information or visit their website: www.homeaffairs.gov.au.
What can I complain about?
You can complain about your provider if you believe they may not have followed the rules correctly 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.
The Overseas Students Ombudsman can investigate complaints about education agents who have an agreement with a provider to represent them in Australia or overseas.
You can also complain if a provider has failed to take action or is taking too long to take some action, like not providing your results in the normal timeframe, or not providing services included in your written agreement with the provider.
You can complain about something which happened in the past, but the Ombudsman may decide not to investigate a complaint if you have known about the problem for more than 12 months.
How will the Ombudsman investigate my complaint?
When you contact us about a problem, we will carefully consider if we can help you. In some cases, the Ombudsman may decide not to investigate a complaint. This might be because:
- you have not complained to your education provider first, or
- another organisation is better able to help you.
If we decide not to investigate, we will tell you why.
If we do investigate your complaint, we will contact your provider to ask them about what happened. When we have received all the information that we need, we will decide whether your education provider has followed their rules, policies and procedures correctly and treated you fairly. We will tell you what we have decided and why.
The Ombudsman cannot make decisions about academic merit. For example, if your provider has decided that you have not met course progress or attendance requirements, we cannot make a new decision about this. Instead, we can look at whether your education provider followed the rules properly in making their decision and treated you fairly.
How long will it take to investigate my complaint?
The time it takes to investigate a complaint varies. Some problems are simple to resolve while others are more complex and take longer to investigate. We will keep you informed about the progress of your complaint.
What can the Ombudsman do to fix my problem?
If we find that your education provider has made a mistake or acted unfairly, we can, for example, ask them to:
- change or reconsider a decision
- provide better information
- improve a policy or procedure
- provide a refund
- take some other action.
For more information, see our frequently asked questions