International Students and Parents
Studying in Canberra is a rewarding and exciting experience. For most students, studying overseas is their first experience of visiting a foreign country and living away from home. Students in Canberra enjoy a balanced education with opportunities for personal, intellectual, sporting and cultural development. International students are made particularly welcome, with high quality Government education in a safe, friendly and multicultural city.
All government schools in Canberra offer high quality learning in modern, well-equipped and supportive environments. Our schools have developed a range of programs specifically designed to meet the needs of international students with the ability to tailor educational programs for individuals.
International students develop English language skills while studying at Canberra's government primary schools, high schools and colleges, alongside native English speakers. All Canberra government schools provide English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EALD) Programs for international students.
Government schooling in Canberra is leading the way in preparing young people for the opportunities and challenges of life in the 21st century. With one of the best government education systems in the country, Canberra government school students consistently rate as the best educated in Australia and among the brightest in the world. An international education in Canberra sets students apart from their peers and provides multiple pathways to success.
The International Education Unit (IEU) is responsible for the enrolment of international students from Preschool to Year 12 in government schools in Canberra. In the ACT, a child is of compulsory education age from the age of six. For preschool aged children, enrolment placement for the dependants of temporary residents is subject to the availability of places. Please note, children must be four years of age by 30 April in the year they commence preschool.
The ACT Government Education Directorate is a registered education provider on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). Our CRICOS Registration Number is 00643J.
All providers of international education are mandated to comply with both the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act) and the National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students (National Code). Under Standard 5 of the National Code, the ACT Government Education Directorate accepts responsibility for the welfare of students under the age of 18 who are not cared for by a Department of Immigration and Border Protection suitable relative in Australia.
There are three accommodation options for international students studying in Canberra Government Schools. The first option is for students to reside with a parent or suitable relative who is approved by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection as the guardian and who has legal custody of the student.
Under Migration Regulation 1.03 a relative means a spouse, parent, brother or sister, grandparent, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew, step uncle/aunt/niece or nephew. This is the only option available for primary school aged international students.
The second accommodation option is available to all high school aged international students. The Family Friend and Relative Program (FFRaP) allows the families of international students to nominate a family friend or relative to care for the student until the student turns 18 years of age.
The third accommodation option is where the Education Directorate arranges accommodation for international students over 15 years of age. The Homestay Accommodation Program places students with local Canberra families as this is the most effective way for students to experience Australian culture and improve their English.
International students studying in Canberra Government Schools receive a high level of care. Each school has an International Private Student (IPS) Coordinator and the Education Directorate provides a dedicated pastoral care manager and homestay manager to monitor student's attendance, progress, health and wellbeing. Officers from the Education Directorate are on 24 hour emergency call to assist international students as the safety and well being of our international students is paramount.
For more information regarding international students' obligations and requirements, please refer to:
- Guidelines for Students on a Student Visa Subclass 500 (103 kb)
Guidelines for Students on a Student Visa Subclass 500 (201 kb)
Primary School Students
Primary schools throughout Canberra offer a range of learning experiences that respond to children's needs, existing skills, individual learning styles and rates of progress and warmly welcome children from many countries and diverse cultural backgrounds.
Primary schools in Canberra enrol students from ages 5 to 12. The first year of primary schooling is Kindergarten and students must be 5 years of age on or before 30 April of that year to be eligible. Grade 6 is the final year of primary school and students are usually around 12 years of age.
Children will participate in a range of programs to develop their intellectual, emotional, social and physical skills to help them reach their full potential.
A typical school day will involve a variety of activities such as physical exercise, reading and writing tasks, learning about numbers, shapes and patterns, science, art and music activities, visiting the library and using information technologies.
Developing children's literacy and numeracy skills is a key focus across all learning areas as these skills are essential for their future success.
Our schools support international primary students with their English language learning. There are five Primary Introductory English Centre's available in Canberra for students to access if required.
All primary aged international students must live with a Department of Immigration and Border Protection suitable relative in Canberra to attend a Canberra government school.
High School Students
High schools cater for students aged from approximately 12 to 16 in Years 7 to 10. A Year 10 Certificate and High School Record detailing programs undertaken by a student in Years 9 and 10 are issued at the conclusion of Year 10.
Year 7 is an introductory year in which students are given the opportunity to sample many of their school's curriculum options to inform their subject choices in later years. Students commence their studies in the core areas of learning and teachers encourage students to make subject selections that will broaden their interests and help prepare them for a career or further education.
High schools in Canberra provide a comprehensive range of programs offering all students a balanced curriculum addressing the needs and interests of the individual, the challenges of secondary college and life as a productive and contributing member of the community.
Our schools support international secondary students with their English language learning. Secondary school students undertake mainstream classes with local students whilst receiving additional support with their English language needs. If required, the Secondary Introductory English Centre is conveniently located at Dickson College.
International students can elect to live with a Department of Immigration and Border Protection suitable relative in Australia, an ACT Government Education Directorate approved family friend or relative or reside in the Directorate Homestay program if aged 15 years and older. If students are aged under 15, they must live with a Department of Immigration and Border Protection suitable relative or with an ACT Government Education Directorate approved family friend or relative in Canberra to attend an ACT public school.
The Year 11 and 12 college system in Canberra offers international students a unique learning experience. With the two senior years separate from the high school, a serious learning environment for young adults is offered with a focus on preparing students for tertiary study after graduation from college.
The continuous assessment system particularly benefits international students, as there is no major external examination at the end of year 12. Canberra also places a strong focus on meeting the needs of gifted and talented students and offers wide curriculum choice to suit the intellect, interest and capability of every student.
All colleges are co-educational and range from 350 students to 1200 students. Only 5% - 7% of the college population will be international students. This ensures that international students are in classrooms with local students and immersed in English speaking environs from the first day of arrival. International students are provided the English language support they require and an individualised learning program.
Students are given the opportunity to complete the Year 12 Senior Secondary Certificate, and if they choose, also obtain an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). The ACT Year 12 Senior Secondary Certificate is recognised for university entry around the world and represents the world-class standard of education students receive during their time in Canberra.
Apply to study in Canberra as an International Student
The ACT Government Education Directorate have Contracted Education Agents located around the world to assist students enroll in an ACT public school on a student visa Subclass 500 School Sector. The International Education Unit works closely with our contracted education agents to ensure thorough familiarity with our schools and programs.
2018 Application Forms
- Short Stay (5-10 weeks) - 2018 Application Form (90 kb)
Short Stay (5-10 weeks) - 2018 Application Form (448 kb)
- Long Term Mainstream Schooling - 2018 Application Form - CRICOS Registration Number: 00643J (123 kb)
Long Term Mainstream Schooling - 2018 Application Form - CRICOS Registration Number: 00643J (536 kb)
All applications for a refund of tuition fees must be in writing. Please address all refund advice to:
International Education Unit
ACT Government Education Directorate
GPO Box 158
Canberra ACT 2601
The ACT Government Education Directorate will refund 100% of the course fee in the following circumstances:
- international fee paying student's application for a student visa is unsuccessful. The original rejection letter received from the Australian Diplomatic Mission must be included with the application for a refund of tuition fees
- course offered by the Directorate in which the international fee paying student has enrolled does not start on the agreed starting date as stated in their Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE)
- course offered by the Directorate in which the international fee paying student has enrolled ceases after it has commenced but before it is completed
- course offered by the Directorate, and in which the international fee paying student is enrolled, is not provided in full because the Directorate, as a CRICOS provider has had a sanction imposed by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training or the ACT Accreditation and Registration Council (ARC).
If an international applicant decides they no longer wish to enrol in an ACT public school they should advise the Directorate in writing of this decision and return the Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) if it has not already been lodged with the Australian Diplomatic Mission.
The ACT Government Education Directorate will only agree to a refund:
- If the applicant advises the Directorate before their visa is approved.
- If after receiving their visa, the applicant is unable to travel to Australia due to illness or misadventure. In this instance, the Directorate expects that the applicant will advise the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) to arrange for their visa to be cancelled. The Directorate will need to see evidence of the visa cancellation.
- If after arriving in the ACT, the applicant is required to return to their home country due to illness or misadventure. In this instance, the Directorate expects that the applicant will advise DIBP to arrange for the duration of their visa to be changed. The Directorate will need to see evidence of the new visa.
For continuing students who decide not to complete a course in which they have enrolled, a refund will depend on when notification of withdrawal from the course is received:
- If written advice is received before 9am on the first day of semester, 90% of the un-used portion of tuition fees will be refunded.
- If written advice is received on or after the first day of semester and before 5pm on the Friday of Week 4 of the semester 50% of the un-used portion of tuition fees will be refunded.
- If written advice is received after 5pm on Friday of Week 4 of the semester no refund will be possible.
Refunds will be reimbursed in Australian dollars in the form of Electronic Funds Transfer.