The term “overseas student” has special meaning depending on the circumstance.
For School Census reporting purposes: The meaning of “Overseas student”
The Census has two terms for an international student, “Student on a visa” and “Overseas student”. An international student may be reported as only a “Student on a visa” or both a “Student on a visa” and an “Overseas student”, depending on the visa the student has.
If an international student holds Australian citizenship, they are no longer a “Student on a visa” or an “Overseas student” for Census reporting purposes.
An “Overseas student” for Census purposes refers to a student who enters Australia on a 500 sub-class student visa (or on a bridging visa attached to a substantive visa with study provisions), either with the primary purpose of that student undertaking a course of study, or (subject to exclusions noted below) as the dependant of another overseas student. “Overseas students” are reported in the Census both as “Students on a visa” and as “Overseas students”.
However, not all students on a 500 sub-class visa are “Overseas students” for Census reporting purposes. A student with a 500 sub-class visa is not an “Overseas student” for Census reporting purposes if they are:
- the dependant of a tertiary overseas student who is receiving a full scholarship from an Australian tertiary institution, or from the Commonwealth, for their course
- part of a registered student exchange program.
Such students are reported in the Census as “Students on a visa” but not “Overseas students”, with the exception of a registered exchange student who is on exchange for less than 6 months. These students are not reported in Census.
Students who are primary visa holders or dependants of people on other types of visas (e.g. a skilled worker visa and several others), are reported in the Census as “Students on a visa” but are not “Overseas students” for the purpose of Census reporting.
Not all international students are reported in Census. Students who are in Australia on a visa who are not reported at all in the Census (even as “Students on a visa”) include those who:
- are on a visitor’s visa, or
- are on exchange and at the school for a period shorter than 6 months in a program year, or
- have completed their formal schooling in their own country.
Students who are on a visitor’s visa are limited to enrol in a school for a maximum of 3 calendar months.
Further information is available through the Census Guidelines with information available on reporting students on a visa. Schools may also contact the Australian Government Department of Education with specific queries on Census requirements, by email or by phone on 1800 677 027 (select option 1 then option 3).
For schools that are registered on CRICOS: the meaning of an “Overseas student”
Schools must be CRICOS-registered (see further details here) to be able to enrol a student who is defined under the CRICOS framework as an “Overseas student”. For CRICOS purposes, an “Overseas student” refers only to a student who enters Australia as the primary holder of a 500 sub-class student visa, with the primary purpose of that student undertaking a course of study.
Under CRICOS, students who are dependents on another person’s 500 sub-class visa are not considered CRICOS students, so may enrol in any school.
There are exceptions for exchange students who enter the country on 500 sub-class visa. You can access more information about the registered exchange programs here.
Relevant Documents and Links