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Complaints and appeals – subclass 500 (schools) visa procedure

Version number 3.2 | Version effective 23 December 2021
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Complaints and appeals – subclass 500 (schools) visa procedure

Audience

Education Queensland International staff (EQI staff), school staff, Office of the Assistant Director-General, State Schools – Rural, Remote and International (SSRRI) staff, Overseas students, EQI homestay providers, parents/Department of Home Affairs (DHA) approved guardians of Overseas students and their agents.

Purpose

This procedure outlines the responsibilities and processes for the consistent management of complaints and appeals made by Overseas students enrolled in an EQI registered course, or persons acting on behalf of Overseas students.

Overview

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about the service or action of EQI, EQI schools, school staff, agents, or homestay providers by an Overseas student who is directly affected by the service or action.

Overseas students can make a complaint if they are dissatisfied with their program, which may include, course, school or living arrangements and welfare (if in homestay accommodation). A complaint may also be made about EQI education agents or any related party that EQI has an arrangement with to deliver the student’s courses.

EQI is committed to dealing with complaints and appeals made by Overseas students in a professional, fair and transparent manner.

Complaints are managed in accordance with the International Student Programs (ISP) standard terms and conditions and the Department of Education’s Customer complaints management policy. EQI has additional requirements to the Customer complaints management (CCM) procedure if the complaint is made by, or on behalf of, an Overseas student including:

Unreasonable conduct by the complainant, for example, abusive, threatening or trivial complaints, or unreasonable demands on EQI’s time and resources, is not tolerated.

An internal appeal is a request by an Overseas student to change a decision made by EQI regarding their enrolment in an EQI registered course. An Overseas student can only appeal the following decisions made by EQI to:

  • report them for failing to maintain satisfactory attendance or course progress;
  • refuse a request by the Overseas student to defer or suspend their enrolment;
  • suspend or cancel their enrolment (initiated by EQI); or
  • refuse a request to transfer to another EQI school or another registered provider.

If dissatisfied with the outcome of the internal appeal, Overseas students can lodge a complaint (external appeal) with the Queensland Ombudsman.

Responsibilities

Complainant (Overseas student or persons acting on the student’s behalf)

  • act in accordance with the CCM framework
  • cooperate in a respectful way and understand that unreasonable conduct will not be tolerated.

Complaints officer (All staff involved in managing complaints )

School staff

  • assist Overseas student and EQI staff with complaint and provide any documents required
  • maintain accurate and up-to-date records (for example, adding a record of contact in OneSchool for each contact with Overseas student)
  • arrange any necessary meetings with the Overseas student, at no cost to the student.

Principal (or delegate)

  • meet with the Overseas student regarding complaint, if required
  • support staff in managing complaints
  • liaise with EQI to manage formal complaints and seek advice as required
  • liaise with EQI if notified that a formal complaint requires an internal review
  • ensure accommodation and welfare, and study arrangements are in place for the Overseas student while the appeals process is ongoing.

EQI staff

  • manage internal appeal timeframes
  • implement decisions when directed by Director, EQI.

Director, EQI

  • manage complaints and provide timely responses
  • manage decisions to ensure they are not implemented until relevant appeals processes are concluded.

Overseas student

  • decide to appeal a decision / request an internal appeal within 20 working days of receiving notice of the decision
  • provide all relevant information when requesting an appeal
  • cooperate in a respectful way and understand that unreasonable conduct will not be tolerated
  • if dissatisfied with the outcome of the internal appeal, lodge an external appeal with the Ombudsman Office within 10 working days of receiving the decision from the internal appeal.

Office of the Assistant Director-General (OADG), SSRRI

  • assess internal appeals, decide if the appeal is also a human rights complaint and communicate the outcome to all relevant parties
  • manage external appeal timeframes
  • manage the DEi appeals register and maintain appropriate records to support each step in the appeals and human rights complaints management processes.

Executive Director, DEi

  • consider and assess internal appeals and provide timely recommendations to the Assistant Director-General, SSRRI
  • ensure adherence to the DoE Customer Complaints Management Framework.

Assistant Director-General (ADG), SSRRI

  • manage internal appeals and provide timely decisions
  • consider relevant human rights legislation when responding to an internal appeal.

Process

Complaints

The department’s approach to handling customer complaints is based on the Australian/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS ISO 10002:2014 – Guidelines for complaint management in organisations).

Complaints process flowchart  Early resolution Internal review External review

Image 1 – Complaints process

Complaints officer

  • manage complaints in accordance with the CCM policy, ensuring:
    • written acknowledgement of receipt of the complaint within 10 working days
    • assessment of the complaint begins within 10 working days of receipt of the complaint
  • where the complaint is in relation to a decision made by EQI regarding an Overseas student’s enrolment in an EQI registered course, refer the Overseas student to the Appeals process (see details below).

Appeals

Alt text: Appeals process flowchart  Internal review External review

Image 2 – Appeals process

1. Internal appeals

Departmental staff have steps to undertake following a decision made by EQI, both when an internal appeal is received and when no internal appeal is received.

1.1. Monitor

EQI staff

  • monitor timeframes – refer to the ISP Operations manual for information about timeframes and the steps to take to record the relevant dates of a decision
  • liaise with OADG staff to confirm if no internal appeal was lodged within 20 working days
  • where it is confirmed that no appeal is received, notify Director, EQI.

Director, EQI.

1.2. Lodge

Overseas student

  • lodge an appeal, within 20 working days of being given written notice of a decision, either by sending via email or in writing via the post
  • include the Overseas student’s name, the decision that is being appealed, and the reason why the decision should be changed
  • where lodging via email, send email to OADG_RRI@qed.qld.gov.au:
    • include “Appeals to Assistant Director-General, State Schools – RRI” in the subject line
    • note that email is preferred to ensure matters are resolved as quickly as possible
  • where lodging via the post, send to EQI Appeals, PO Box 15050, City East Qld 4002.

1.3. Receive

OADG, SSRRI staff

  • review the internal appeal request ensuring it is not a complaint. If determined to be a complaint, refer the student to the complaints procedure
  • contact the Overseas student if additional information is required to confirm the appeal issues, the outcome sought, or to provide information about the appeals process (e.g. timeframes)
  • acknowledge receipt of appeal, either by email or in writing via the post, within 10 working days
  • commence assessment of appeal within 10 working days
  • notify Director, EQI and EQI staff by email that an appeal has been received
  • record appeal on the DEi appeals register.

Director, EQI

  • notify the school principal by email that an appeal has been received
  • ensure the school principal has appropriate study and accommodation arrangements in place for Overseas student while appeals process is ongoing. Arrangements are made on a case-by-case basis, for example:
    • the Overseas student may be appealing a decision to cancel their enrolment due to unsatisfactory course progress, however, if the Overseas student remains onshore, they may be required to attend classes at school while the appeals process is ongoing
    • the Overseas student’s parents may be required to assume welfare, where the Overseas student is in the EQI homestay program, refer to the Change of welfare – subclass 500 (schools) visa procedure.

School principal

  • liaise with school staff to implement the agreed arrangements for Overseas student during the appeal process
  • ensure school staff communicate the agreed arrangement with Overseas students and parents, and the homestay provider, if the Overseas student is in the EQI homestay program.

1.4. Assess and decide

OADG, SSRRI staff

  • analyse the decision to determine if the outcome reached was appropriate by considering and assessing:
    • information provided by the Overseas student, or person acting on the Overseas student’s behalf
    • material considered as part of managing the original decision
    • other information provided by relevant parties, such as the school principal and school staff
  • decide if the request engages or limits human rights contained in sections Part 2 of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) by considering the following questions:
    • Are there any human rights considerations or impacts by the decision being appealed?
    • If so, did the decision being appealed limit those human rights?
    • If so, was the limitation lawful, justified and reasonable in the circumstances?
  • identify a suitable appeal outcome. This may include, but is not limited to:
    • finding the original decision was appropriate and the appeal does not merit further investigation
    • finding the original decision was unreasonable and should be amended without further investigation
    • re-opening the original matter
    • providing a clearer explanation of the original decision to the Overseas student
    • amending a policy, procedure or practice, or recommending that such documents be amended
    • offering an apology or some other remedy
  • make a recommendation to Executive Director, DEi about the appeal outcome.

Executive Director, DEi

  • review the recommendation provided by the OADG staff and consider the recommended appeal outcome
  • decide to either:
    • confirm the recommended appeal outcome
    • identify an alternative suitable appeal outcome
  • make a recommendation to Assistant Director-General, State Schools – RRI about a decision on appeal as soon as practicable.

ADG, SSRRI

  • assess the appeal information and consider the Executive Director, DEi’s recommendation
  • decide on an appeal outcome.

1.5. Communicate

ADG, SSRRI

  • notify the Overseas student, within 10 working days of concluding the appeal, the outcome of the appeal process, including a clear explanation of the reasons for the final decision, which could be either:
    • their appeal is successful, and EQI will immediately take any action required to implement the decision, using the ADG – Internal appeal successful letter template (HPE 17/86011 – DoE employees only) 
    • their appeal is unsuccessful, and they may lodge a complaint with Queensland Ombudsman (external appeal) at no cost, using the ADG – Internal appeal unsuccessful letter template (HPE 17/86012 – DoE employees only)
  • notify Executive Director, DEi of the outcome of the appeal

Executive Director, DEi

  • notify Director, EQI, ISP and OADG staff by email of the outcome of the appeal

OADG, SSRRI staff

  • update the DEi appeals register, including notes describing the outcome and any further activities that need to occur

Director, EQI

  • notify EQI staff and instruct staff to implement decision in accordance with appropriate procedure
  • notify school principal by email of the outcome of the appeal

1.6. Implement decision

EQI staff

2. External appeals

Departmental staff have steps to undertake both when an external appeal is received and when no external appeal is received.

2.1. Monitor

OADG, SSRRI staff

  • monitor timeframes by noting in calendar the date 10 working days from the date the Overseas student received the decision from the internal appeal
  • liaise with the Ombudsman’s Office by email to confirm if an external appeal was lodged within 10 working days
  • notify the ADG, SSRRI if an external appeal has been lodged or not

ADG, SSRRI

  • where an external appeal is not lodged, notify the Overseas student in writing that the decision of ADG, SSRRI takes effect immediately, using the ADG – No external appeal received letter template (HPE 17/86014 – DoE employees only)
  • notify Executive Director, DEi by email that an external appeal was not lodged.

Executive Director, DEi

  • notify Director, EQI by email that an external appeal was not lodged.

Director, EQI

2.2. Lodge

Overseas student

  • lodge an external appeal, within 10 working days of receiving the decision from the internal appeal, either by sending via email or in writing via the post
  • where via email, send email to ombudsman@ombudsman.qld.gov.au 
    • note that email is preferred to ensure matters are resolved as quickly as possible
  • where via the post, send to Queensland Ombudsman, GPO Box 3314, Brisbane QLD 4001.

2.3. Confirm and notify

OADG, SSRRI staff

  • notify the ADG, SSRRI if an external appeal has been lodged
  • record and update the DEi appeals register if an external appeal has been lodged.

ADG, SSRRI

  • notify Executive Director, DEi by email that an external appeal has been lodged.

Executive Director, DEi

  • notify Director, EQI by email that an external appeal has been lodged.

Director, EQI

  • notify EQI staff and the school principal by email that an external appeal has been lodged
  • where an external appeal is received:
    • ensure the school principal has appropriate study and accommodation arrangements in place for Overseas student while appeals process is ongoing. Arrangements are made on a case-by-case basis, for example:
    • the Overseas student may be appealing a decision to cancel their enrolment due to unsatisfactory course progress, however, if the Overseas student remains onshore, they may be required to attend classes at school while the appeals process is ongoing

School principal

  • liaise with school staff to implement agreed arrangements for Overseas student during the appeal process
  • ensure school staff communicate agreed arrangement with the Overseas student, parents and the homestay provider, if applicable

2.4. Communicate outcome

ADG, SSRRI

  • receive notification from the Ombudsman that a decision has been provided to the Overseas student on the appeal
  • if the external appeal is successful, notify the Overseas student that EQI will immediately take any action required to implement the decision of the Ombudsman, using the ADG – External appeal successful letter template (HPE 17/86015 – DoE employees only)
  • if the external appeal is unsuccessful, and if the decision is about unsatisfactory attendance or course progress, notify the Overseas student that the decision of the ADG, SSRRI takes effect immediately, using the ADG – External appeal unsuccessful letter template (HPE 17/86017 – DoE employees only)
  • notify the Executive Director, DEi and OADG SSRRI staff of the outcome.

Executive Director, DEi

  • notify Director, EQI of the outcome.

Director, EQI

  • notify school principal when outcome of Queensland Ombudsman’s decision is received
  • instruct EQI staff to implement decision in accordance with the appropriate procedure.

2.5. Finalise

EQI staff

OADG, SSRRI staff

  • update DEi appeals register
    • keep a written record of the appeal, including a statement of the outcome and reasons for the outcome.

Definitions

Term

Definition

Agent

Education agent registered with EQI to recruit students for EQI programs.

Complaint

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about the service or action of EQI, EQI schools, school staff, agents, or homestay providers by an Overseas student who is directly affected by the service or action.

Course

A course registered on CRICOS offered by Department of Education trading as Education Queensland International.

Decision

A conclusion or resolution reached after consideration and made by EQI regarding an Overseas student’s enrolment in an EQI registered course.

Department of Home Affairs (DHA)

Australian Government department responsible for immigration.

DHA approved guardian

A parent, legal custodian or a relative over the age of 21 years of age approved by the Department of Home Affairs to be responsible for the Welfare of students under the age of 18 years.

EQI

Education Queensland International

School

For International Student Programs: Queensland state schools accredited by EQI to deliver international student programs.

EQI staff

DoE employees working in DEi, trading as EQI.

External appeal

A process conducted by an external review body, the Queensland Ombudsman, to ensure departmental decision-making is fair and reasonable and followed proper policies and procedures.

The purpose of the external appeals process is to consider whether EQI has followed its policies and procedures, rather than make a decision in place of EQI. EQI will comply with any decision the Ombudsman makes.

Homestay provider

Homestay provider is a family, a couple or a single person who is approved by DEi or schools to host overseas students in their home.

Internal appeal

An appeal is a request by an Overseas student to change a decision made by EQI regarding their enrolment in an EQI registered course:

  • to report the Overseas student to the Australian Government Department of Education regarding their attendance or course progress (refer to the Standard terms and conditions);
  • not to defer or suspend your enrolment, as requested by the Overseas student (refer to the Standard terms and conditions);
  • to suspend or cancel the Overseas student’s enrolment, as initiated by EQI (refer to the Standard terms and conditions)
  • to refuse the Overseas student’s request for a transfer (refer to the Standard terms and conditions).

International Student Programs

A study pathway offered to Overseas students to fulfil their academic potential, develop new skills and achieve personal goals in a way that suits their individual needs. International Student Programs includes: Primary School, High School, International Baccalaureate, and High School Preparation.

Overseas student

Student in Australia on visa subclass 500 (schools sector) enrolled in an EQI course.

OneSchool

A comprehensive program to help Queensland State Schools manage key teaching and school administrative activities. Its features cover a wide range of school operations.

Parent

Natural parent or legal custodian.

School staff

Employees of schools with responsibilities to support international students. For example – International student coordinator, Homestay coordinator, Head of department, Deputy principal, Accredited Officer (Study tours).

Unreasonable complainant conduct

Conduct is likely to be unreasonable where it involves actions or behaviours which because of the nature or frequency, raises substantial health, safety, resource or equity issues for the department, its staff, other service users or the complainant themselves. Examples include unreasonable:

  • persistence (for example, excessive and unnecessary phone calls or emails) demands (for example, demanding more reviews than departmental procedures allow, or demanding a different outcome without showing the original decision was incorrect)
  • lack of cooperation (for example, refusing to identify the issue of complaint or providing disorganised information)
  • arguments (for example, making irrational claims)
  • behaviour (for example, aggression or violence to staff, or threatening harm to self and others).

Legislation

Delegations/Authorisations

  • Nil

Other resources

Superseded versions

Previous seven years shown. Minor version updates not included.

3.0 Complaint and appeals

Review date

24 January 2023
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