Making a complaint

What does the Overseas Students Ombudsman do?

    The Overseas Students Ombudsman investigates complaints about problems that international students have with private schools, colleges and universities (education providers) in Australia.

    If you are not satisfied with a decision or action taken by your private registered education provider, you should ask about their internal complaints and appeals process. If you complain to your education provider, but you are not satisfied with the result, you can complain to the Overseas Students Ombudsman.

What if I have a complaint about a government school, TAFE, college or university?

Who can complain to the Overseas Students Ombudsman?

    Intending, current and former Overseas students can contact the Ombudsman about an action or decision taken by their private registered education provider in Australia. Family or friends of overseas students, who are concerned about a problem an overseas student is having with a private provider, can also contact the Ombudsman. See: Permission for someone else to act on my behalf form

How to make a complaint to the Overseas Students Ombudsman


You can view our Privacy Statement here.


You can make your complaint online by using our online complaint form.


You can contact us by telephone, 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST). In Australia, call: 1300 362 072 (calls from mobile phones at mobile phone rates). Outside Australia, call +61 2 6276 0111.

Using an interpreter

You can make a complaint in your language. Call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) in Australia on 131 450, outside Australia call +61 3 9203 4027. We will pay for the interpreter.

If you are deaf, hearing or sight impaired

You can contact us via the National Relay Service. Teletypewriter (TTY) users phone 133 677 and then ask for 1300 362 072. Speak and Listen users phone 1300 555 727 and then ask for 1300 362 072. Internet Relay users connect to the National Relay Service and then ask for 1300 362 072


You can send us a fax. In Australia: 02 6276 0123. Outside Australia: +61 2 6276 0123.


You can write a letter and post it to: Overseas Students Ombudsman
GPO Box 442
Canberra ACT 2601

What can I complain about?

    You can complain about your provider if you believe they may not have followed the rules correctly or treated you fairly. Complaints might be about:

    • refusing admission to a course
    • fees and refunds
    • course or provider transfers
    • course progress or attendance
    • cancellation of enrolment
    • accommodation or work arranged by your provider
    • incorrect advice given by an education agent.

    The Overseas Students Ombudsman can investigate complaints about education agents who have an agreement with a provider to represent them in Australia or overseas.

    You can also complain if a provider has failed to take action or is taking too long to take some action, like not providing your results in the normal timeframe, or not providing services included in your written agreement with the provider.

    You can complain about something which happened in the past, but the Ombudsman may decide not to investigate a complaint if you have known about the problem for more than 12 months.

How will the Ombudsman investigate my complaint?

When you contact us about a problem, we will carefully consider if we can help you. In some cases, the Ombudsman may decide not to investigate a complaint. This might be because:

  • you have not complained to your education provider first, or
  • another organisation is better able to help you.

If we decide not to investigate, we will tell you why.

If we do investigate your complaint, we will contact your provider to ask them about what happened. When we have received all the information that we need, we will decide whether your education provider has followed their rules, policies and procedures correctly and treated you fairly. We will tell you what we have decided and why.

The Ombudsman cannot make decisions about academic merit. For example, if your provider has decided that you have not met course progress or attendance requirements, we cannot make a new decision about this. Instead, we can look at whether your education provider followed the rules properly in making their decision and treated you fairly.

How long will it take to investigate my complaint?

The time it takes to investigate a complaint varies. Some problems are simple to resolve while others are more complex and take longer to investigate. We will keep you informed about the progress of your complaint.

What can the Ombudsman do to fix my problem?

If we find that your education provider has made a mistake or acted unfairly, we can, for example, ask them to:

  • apologise
  • change or reconsider a decision
  • provide better information
  • improve a policy or procedure
  • provide a refund
  • take some other action.
  • For more information, see our Frequently Asked Questions.