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Complaints by international students

Four students walking away from building

TEQSA uses information received through complaints made by international student to ensure that registered higher education providers are offering quality programs.

An international student is someone studying in Australia on a valid student visa issued by the Australian Government.

This section will help you to understand:

  • how to resolve a problem with your higher education provider
  • our roles and responsibilities once a complaint is submitted.

If you are a domestic student studying in Australia, please read the information on our Complaints by domestic students page.

Before you make a complaint

If you are unhappy about aspects of your experience with a higher education provider you should access the policies and procedures they have established to resolve complaints. These policies and procedures should be easily accessible, consistent, fair and confidential and provide advice and support.

In most cases, your complaint should be resolved locally and informally. However, you may need to use your provider’s formal complaints procedures.

Submit a formal complaint to your higher education provider

Your higher education provider is required to have formal student complaints policies and procedures in place. These policies and procedures should be current and easily accessible.

If you need to proceed with a formal complaint, you will need to submit details in writing. After your complaint has been submitted, you should receive a formal written response from your provider outlining how your complaint will be considered and when you should receive a response.

Your provider should investigate your complaint and notify you in writing once it has been resolved.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your complaint, or it cannot be resolved internally, you can seek an independent, third party review. Information of the independent review party for your provider should be available in their formal grievances and complaints policies and procedures.

We encourage you to utilise all avenues of your provider’s internal and external grievances and complaints processes to ensure the most timely and effective resolution of your complaint.

If you are studying at public or government higher education provider (University or TAFE) and have a complaint, you can seek further assistance through Commonwealth, state and territory ombudsman offices:

If you are studying with a private higher education provider and have a complaint, you should contact the Overseas Student Ombudsman, who manages complaints about private education providers with international students. For more information see the Overseas Student Ombudsman’s website.

Complaints made about education agents, who also function as migration agents, should be reported to the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority  

Complaints concerning immigration or citizenship fraud should be made to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Submit a complaint to TEQSA

We can only accept certain types of complaints about registered higher education providers.

What TEQSA can accept complaints about

A higher education provider’s compliance with the:

  • Higher Education Standards Framework (HES Framework)
  • Education Services for Overseas Students Act (ESOS Act)
  • National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students (National Code).

What TEQSA cannot accept complaints about

  • matters relating to FEE - HELP
  • matters of academic judgement, such as examination results
  • requests for providers to re-mark work
  • issues concerning visas
  • problems that the provider has already rectified.

If you have been through your provider’s internal and external complaints processes, and your complaint is related to your provider’s compliance with the HES Framework, ESOS Act or National Code 2017, you can submit your complaint to us by completing our online complaints form.

You may have a valid, serious complaint that does not relate to the HES Framework, ESOS Act or National Code 2017. In this case we will do our best to refer you to another agency that can help, or advise you how to contact them directly.

What TEQSA will need in order to consider your complaint

In order for us to consider your complaint, you will need to:

Show you have exhausted your provider’s formal complaints processes

We encourage you to utilise all avenues of your provider’s internal and external grievances and complaints processes to ensure the most timely and effective resolution of your complaint.

Provide as much information as possible

You should email all detail relevant to your complaint – dates, times, names of those involved etc. Only include details that relate to your complaint.

Be aware of the limitations of submitting anonymous complaints

We can only investigate complaints that include sufficient information. If you make a complaint anonymously, or without providing contact details, we won’t be able to ask for additional information and may not be able to take any action.

Provide evidence to support your complaint

This should include copies of all communications from your provider, particularly the outcome of its investigations into your complaint and other relevant documents.

Understand our role

We accept student complaints as a source of information about registered higher education providers. The information provided through complaints helps us to identify areas of risk to the provision of quality higher education in Australia and thereby protect the interests of students.

We do not advocate on behalf of students or request that your provider take action on your behalf.

After you submit a complaint

After submitting a complaint you will receive an email acknowledging it has been received.

An initial assessment of your complaint will be conducted to determine whether it is able to be accepted. In light of this assessment, we may decide not to accept your complaint or refer your complaint to another agency.

If TEQSA accepts your complaint

If your complaint is accepted, the information provided will be reviewed. The outcome of this review will determine how the complaint will proceed. Depending on the type of complaint, we may:

  • use the information to inform future regulatory assessment of a provider
  • broaden the scope of future regulatory assessment of a provider
  • commence an assessment of the compliance of a provider against the HES Framework.

Will TEQSA communicate with you after you submit your complaint?

Any future communication will be guided by the type of complaint. In some cases, we may contact you for more information to determine the best course of action.

Will we advise you about the progress of any investigation of your complaint?

We have specific confidentiality obligations, which means there are limitations about what we can disclose to an individual complainant about our findings in relation a provider, as it relates to a complaint, or action we take in response to those findings.

However, the outcomes of any regulatory action taken by us can be found on our National Register.