Schools and Overseas Students: Government Announces Fee Exemptions for CRICOS Registration – Current and New Applications

16 July 2020

Pre 2020, the overseas students education sector in Australia experienced substantial growth resulting in it becoming Australia’s third largest export industry. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected this industry substantially and the Commonwealth Government has recently released its Higher Education Relief Package.


Fee Exemptions for CRICOS Registration – Current and New Applications

The Commonwealth Government published the Education Services for Overseas Students (Registration Charges) Amendment (COVID-19 Exemptions) Regulations 2020 (Cth) (Amending Regulations), which have now been made. They were registered on the Federal Register of Legislation on 10 July 2020. They provide a number of exemptions for all new and existing Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) registered providers.

The Amending Regulations amend the Education Services for Overseas Students (Registration Charges) Regulations 2011 (Cth) to:

  • exempt all new and existing CRICOS-registered providers from the requirement to pay the 2021 Annual Registration Charge - these amendments took effect on 11 July 2020
  • exempt all new and existing CRICOS-registered providers from the requirement to pay the Entry to Market Charge for the period 12 April 2020 to 30 June 2021 - these amendments are taken to have commenced on 12 April 2020.

Further details about the changes can be found in this factsheet, which was published when the Higher Education Relief Package was announced. The Amending Regulations are published here.

CRICOS-registered schools need to ensure that their current programs reflect the 200+ compliance requirements of the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (National Code).


What are the Usual Fees?

Having overseas students attend a school can be quite costly, based on the CRICOS Entry to Market Charge (EMC) and the Annual Registration Charge (ARC). There is also the Tuition Protection Program and a considerable compliance regime, and an HR cost associated with applying for and maintaining ongoing CRICOS registration.

The current CRICOS Entry to Market Charge (EMC) is payable annually in each of the first three years of CRICOS registration. The following amounts are payable based on the current 2020 rates:

  • $8,676 (2020) at the time when the provider becomes registered to provide the course for the state under Section 11 of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2020 (Cth)(ESOS Act)
  • $5,784 (2020) at the end of the first anniversary of the day on which the provider was registered to provide the course for the state under Section 11 of the ESOS Act
  • $2,882 (2020) at the end of the second anniversary of the day on which the provider was registered to provide the course for the state under Section 11 of the ESOS Act.

Therefore, this adds up to be an outlay of $17,342 over the first three years of registration.

The current CRICOS Annual Registration Charge (ARC) is made up of:

  • $1505 base fee
  • $10 per student enrolment per calendar year
  • $115 for each course by location registered on CRICOS.

Schools must also pay the Tuition Protection Service (TPS) and the initial Levy (TPS initial Levy) administrative fee of $111 and a base fee of $223.


How Much Will Schools Save?

As the EMC and ARC will no longer be payable in 2020/2021, schools will save the first two years’ costs of the EMC and possibly two years of the ARC. Note that CRICOS schools that did not have any overseas students in 2019 or 2020 may have no standard charges (usually $423). In addition, any current CRICOS providers that have paid their 2020 EMC and ARC will receive a refund and all schools will not receive an invoice for their 2021 fees.

So basically, this year, schools should not receive any fees or invoices in relation to registration of overseas students.


Is this an Opportune Time to Apply for CRICOS Registration for Your School?

If your school is contemplating offering places to overseas students in the future, or if you have had previously cancelled your CRICOS registration, now may be an opportune time to investigate how the enrolment of overseas students can enhance your school’s overall culture and reputation, and gain the added bonus of a possible $14,000 in waived EMC! In addition, with the waiving of the ARC there could be further savings of approximately $2000 per annum for 2020 and 2021.

Schools that have not investigated the value adding that overseas students can bring to their school and these predicted savings should do so at their earliest convenience.


The Complexity of Re-registration / New Registration

In 2016, School Governance published this article where we stated that most schools enrol relatively small numbers of overseas students and that the current regulatory environment creates a disproportionate workload on schools with limited administrative resources. In 2020, this situation has not changed. CRICOS-registered schools still have fairly small numbers of overseas students and the costs in terms of staffing, support and general administration of the compliance requirements is often far in excess of the financial return from what may sometimes be only three or four students. Of course, schools are also concerned about these additional compliance requirements associated with having CRICOS-registration.

Having been personally involved twice in the re-registration of a school for overseas students, I can attest that the re-registration process can be very demanding and immensely time consuming. Schools are required to show evidence that they meet all of the 200+ points of compliance with the 11 Standards of the National Code. The very real impacts for school staff are stress, expense, time and the creation of even more to-do lists.


How the CompliSpace Overseas Students Program Can Help

CompliSpace has an Overseas Students Program that has been developed in accordance with the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Framework which is made up of a series of Commonwealth and state/territory laws and regulations, including the National Code.

For schools with overseas students, the Overseas Students Program provides an integrated framework of policies, procedures and processes for the engagement, management and education of overseas students and for continued compliance with the ESOS National Code and a school’s CRICOS registration requirements including migration law, student duty of care, child protection and complaints and appeals.

The Overseas Students Program includes policies and procedures to address each of the 200+ requirements for CRICOS registration in the ESOS National Code including:

  • Recruitment and Enrolment of Overseas Students
  • Student Support and Younger Overseas Students
  • Course Progress, Attendance and Changes in Enrolment
  • Complaints and Appeals.

In addition, and in line with National Code Standard 6.7, there is an online Overseas Students Induction Training Program for teaching staff. The Program also contains an Overseas Students Compliance Task Framework, with tailored content that meets state and territory CRICOS and non-government school registration requirements.

Given the reduced CRICOS ARC fees for 20/21 and the workload associated with ongoing National Code compliance, the maintenance of PRISMS and face-to-face duty of care for the students, this Program would provide your school’s overseas staff with the time to focus more on the students and not worry about when the next legislative change will take place. More so, the cost will be offset by the CRICOS fee reductions for the next two years.



Schools have identified many pluses to having overseas students in their student cohort including the immense personal value for each student participant (and their peers), the value added to the programs of teaching and learning, the cross cultural relationships developed, the development of a world view among staff and students and the attainment of some Australian Curriculum imperatives for international education through intercultural understanding and cross-curricular priorities.

So, if your school is or is planning to be CRICOS-registered, you will need to review or create your overseas students policies and procedures to ensure that they reflect the requirements of the National Code. Now may well be the best opportunity to take advantage of the Commonwealth Government’s cancellation of fees for this year and next.

Basically, if you are contemplating the expansion of your enrolment market as soon as things get back to ‘normal’ through the enrolment of full fee paying overseas students, now is the time to act!

Craig D’cruz

With 37 years of educational experience, Craig D’cruz is the National Education Lead at CompliSpace. Craig provides direction on education matters including new products, program/module content and training. Previously Craig held the roles of Industrial Officer at the Association of Independent Schools of WA, he was the Principal of a K-12 non-government school, Deputy Principal of a systemic non-government school and he has had teaching and leadership experience in both the independent and Catholic school sectors. Craig currently sits on the board of a large non-government school and is a regular presenter on behalf of CompliSpace and other educational bodies on issues relating to school governance, school culture and leadership.