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Overseas Students Ombudsman - the first four years

Monday, November 23 2015

A report on the activities and outcomes of the Overseas Students Ombudsman in its first four years of operation has been released.
The availability of this independent, impartial complaints and appeals body is critical to resolving problems between international students and education providers. The Ombudsman also promotes best- practice complaint handling to education providers and builds student confidence in Australia's international education services.

Since its inception, the Ombudsman received 2150 complaints and external appeals from overseas students originating from over 68 countries. As the international education sector expands, complaint numbers have increased “steadily” according to the report, by 10% in the third year (to April 2014) and 30% in the fourth year (to April 2015) of operation.

The Ombudsman’s report cites that these increases are “due to increasing numbers of students studying in Australia and greater awareness amongst international students of our roles and services.

It may also reflect the growing number of private providers who refer overseas students to our office as an external complaints and appeals body. For these reasons we expect the increase in complaints and appeals to continue.”

VET enrolments are the largest proportion of overseas students within the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction (86%). Accordingly data reflects that the largest number of complaints is from VET students.

The most common student complaint is about refund and fee disputes. The Ombudsman found that a compliant written agreement with the student (as required by ESOS Act or the National Code) addresses the root cause of most refund and fee disputes.

While some instances of non-compliance were identified, “the majority of education providers readily accept our recommendations. Additionally work on systematic issues has been welcomed by the sector”.

Across the top four complaint issues, the Ombudsman found in support of student claims 40% of the time, but against them in 41% of cases. The remaining cases were withdrawn, reconsidered by the provider or referred back to the provider or otherwise finalised.

Read the report at - Overseas Students Ombudsman, Report on the First Four Years of Operation Nov 2015.


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