Provider intervention strategies for students at risk of unsatisfactory course progress.

Ms Klara Major1

1Commonwealth Ombudsman, Australia

International students are required to maintain satisfactory course progress. If they don’t, education providers may need to cancel the student’s enrolment and report them to the Department of Home Affairs. Before reporting the student, the provider must give them an opportunity to get their progress back on track, via an intervention strategy. As the Overseas Students Ombudsman, we receive complaints from students after they have been through their provider’s intervention strategy process, and failed to turn their progress around. At that stage, they are on the verge of having their enrolment cancelled and being reported to the Department of Home Affairs. In this presentation, we take you through some complaint data, looking at the numbers of complaints received, and the proportion of complaints where we support the provider’s decision to cancel the student’s enrolment and report them for unsatisfactory course progress. Our experience is necessarily limited to the ‘failed’ intervention strategies, but during our detailed examination of provider actions, we have come across examples of education providers really responding to their students’ needs and attempting to support their learning. We outline some of the ‘tools’ we have observed in the intervention strategy arsenal, and look at other options allowed under the National Code which may be appropriate to support struggling students. We also look at the reasons that students have given for not meeting the demands of their courses, and some appropriate provider responses to those reasons.


Klara Major is the Stakeholder Engagement Officer of the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Students team, which is responsible for the Overseas Students Ombudsman function.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman:

  • can investigate complaints about problems that intending, current or former overseas students have with private schools, colleges and universities (education providers) in Australia
  • provides information about best practice complaints handling to help private education providers manage internal complaints effectively
  • publishes reports on problems and broader issues in international education that we identify through investigations.

The Ombudsman’s Office has investigated more than 1,000 complaints from international students, giving them a unique insight into the problems that international students can face, and what can be done about them.

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