Foundation programs and ELICOS

TEQSA has regulatory responsibility for the higher education sector, Foundation Programs and ELICOS courses delivered by registered higher education providers, or by providers with an entry arrangement with at least one registered higher education provider.

TEQSA assesses applications for inclusion on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) and may approve a provider to be registered on CRICOS.

To become registered to deliver courses to international students (students studying on a student visa), a provider must apply for CRICOS registration and have the courses and locations in the scope of its CRICOS registration approved.

Providers can only enrol and deliver courses to international students in Australia if they are registered on CRICOS.

More information about TEQSA’s overall approach to assessing risk can be found at our Risk assessment cycle page.

Foundation programs

TEQSA has regulatory responsibility for all Foundation programs, with the exception of those delivered by schools. Foundation programs for international students are nationally recognised courses that equip students with the skills for entry into Australian higher education programs. They provide an academic entry pathway to first year undergraduate study or its equivalent.

Foundation programs must comply with requirements set out in the:

ELICOS courses

TEQSA has regulatory responsibility for English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) delivered by registered higher education providers, or other providers where TEQSA is the ESOS Agency.

ELICOS courses must comply with requirements set out in:

NEAS is a quality assurance in education and training corporation that assesses the standard of English being taught in Australia, Southeast Asia and the United Arab Emirates. However, NEAS accreditation cannot be substituted for CRICOS registration through an assessment against the ELICOS National Standards by TEQSA. Providers may submit evidence to TEQSA that formed part of their NEAS accreditation application, where relevant.

What expertise does TEQSA bring to the assessment of Foundation and ELICOS applications?

TEQSA engages external experts when specialised expertise is needed in the assessment of Foundation program and ELICOS applications. Experts are engaged to assess relevant aspects of a CRICOS application and are selected from TEQSA’s Register of Experts. TEQSA ensures that an expert’s professional experience and qualifications match the requirements of the assessment task. Experts are briefed before an assignment and given the specifications of the task and are required to sign a confidentiality agreement with TEQSA.

More information about TEQSA’s Expert Register is available from our Information for TEQSA External Experts page.

Application for exemption to enrol students under the age of 17 in Foundation Programs

Providers seeking to apply for an exemption to enrol students under the age of 17 (minimum acceptable age is 16) in a Foundation program must submit an application to TEQSA detailing arrangements in place to support younger students.

The application must meet the regulatory requirements, include all requested information, and be submitted through the Provider portal. No fees apply for seeking an exemption.

More details on accessing the application forms can be obtained by emailing cricos@teqsa.gov.au.

Last Updated:

13 Oct 2022