Short-term Study Programs for Overseas Students

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Purpose of this policy

To ensure that Short-term Study Programs for Overseas Students are well organised and all involved parties understand their roles and responsibilities.


Host schools must:

  • forward all queries from registered tour operators to the Department’s International Cooperation and Study Tours Unit (ICSTU) who deal with initial program arrangements
  • be briefed by ICSTU prior to hosting a group of overseas students
  • sign an agreement when hosting study tour groups, detailing:
    • services the school provides
    • fees the school receives
  • that host parents are aware that they are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of overseas students out of school hours
  • develop a complaints procedure to deal with complaints by the registered tour operator, students or host families
  • report on Short-term Student Study Programs in their Annual Report
  • deal directly with tour operators if they are registered with ICSTU and have been referred to the host school by ICSTU
  • accept hosting responsibilities that support educational provision to local students and that do not affect the normal educational program.

Note: The Minister for Education determines the level of fees payable for Short-term Student Study Programs.

Important: The Department may remove an overseas student from the school at its own discretion or at the request of the host school if the student is not complying with visa requirements and the school’s code of conduct.

Program overview

Short-term Student Study Programs:

  • are coordinated by the Department’s International Cooperation and Study Tours Unit (ICSTU) in conjunction with registered tour operators and government host schools
  • provide groups of visiting overseas students with the opportunity to:
    • gain new skills and knowledge through a combination of school-based learning and hands-on, educational excursions
    • improve their English through lessons and practice in a variety of settings
    • interact and learn with Victorian students to develop friendships and intercultural understanding
    • experience Australian culture and lifestyle through homestay with Victorian families,
  • may range in duration from 3 days to 10 weeks
  • include:
    • lessons with local students
    • English as a Second Language (ESL) classes by6 qualified ESL teachers
    • excursions facilitated by the Department’s educational partners
    • local students acting as “school buddies” to each visiting student
    • homestay with families from the school community, generally those with a child of the same gender and approximate age as the visiting student so that they may act as their school buddy; if the host brother/sister is of a different age, a school-based buddy can be assigned
  • involve reimbursement for schools and host families who provide services to cover the operation and delivery costs of the program.

Registered tour operators

Registered tour operators are usually the first point of contact for an overseas school group looking to participate in a Short-term Student Study Program and will act as their representative in developing and finalising the program, liaising on their behalf with ICSTU and the host school.

The ICSTU has established a database of registered tour operators who have:

  • provided details of their business set up and activities
  • been checked with referees in the industry.

Becoming a host school

This table describes the process for becoming a host school.



The school may:

  • be approached by ICSTU regarding hosting a group, or
  • approach ICSTU with a query about a proposed program or to express their interest in becoming a host school.


ICSTU staff:

  • discuss with the principal to ensure Short-term Student Study Program obligations are understood
  • send a copy of the Short-term Student Study Program agreement to the principal.


The school returns the signed agreement to the ICSTU.


ICSTU staff:

  • brief the principal and designated school contact person
  • provide a countersigned copy of the agreement to the principal.

Note: The school may host Short-term Student Study Programs within the specified term (period) of the agreement. At the end of this period the Department and School Council may agree to extend the agreement for a further period.

Hosting a study tour

ICSTU will usually receive a query from a registered tour operator about a group wishing to undertake a Short-term Student Study Program. ICSTU and the registered tour operator will negotiate terms for the visit including:

  • the program requested by the visiting group and whether this is acceptable to the school
  • the number of visiting students
  • timing of the visit.

Subject to the agreed terms, ICSTU will provide a quote to the registered tour operator.

When requested by the registered tour operator, ICSTU will then approach a school regarding hosting and provide details of the terms of the requested program and funding the school will receive to support delivery of the program. If the school is unable to host the group under these terms, which may be subject to some negotiation, the school submits a signed acceptance as confirmation.  

When the registered tour operator is notified that a school has agreed to host the overseas group, they must pay a deposit to the Department to secure the host school. As soon as payment has been made, the Department will inform the host school that the quote has been accepted by way of paid deposit and the host school is then expected to provide the Short-term Student Study Program. 

Liaison between the registered tour operator, ICSTU and the host school will continue until the school visit has finished.

If the registered tour operator requests a change to the terms of the visit, ICSTU may vary the terms at any time providing that the host school is consulted and given reasonable time to cater for the changes and that the fees are adjusted accordingly.

Note: If the balance is not paid to the Department at least 4 weeks prior to arrival or 3 weeks before arrival for groups from China, the school is not obligated to provide the study program



Host School


  • provide:
    - the same standard of service and level of care as is provided to any other student
    - the registered tour operator and each participating overseas student with a school visit that meets the terms agreed
    - a school contact person to manage the visit and act as a contact person to liaise with ICSTU
    - an information package for visiting students
    - an information package to selected host families
  • ensure each student in the program has the opportunity to:
    - meet local students and teachers
    - experience the culture and tradition of the school
  • advise host families about their responsibilities in hosting students participating in the program
  • organise and monitor host family accommodation with a family selected from the school community that are of good character and have Working with Children Checks for all adults over 18 years of age
  • organise:
    - the school integration program, including ESL classes and classes with local students
    - host family accommodation
    - requested themed excursions
    - welcome and farewell ceremonies, if requested
  • manage unexpected issues, including providing:
    - crisis management
    - 24 hours emergency contact
  • liaise with ICSTU officers
  • forward to ICTSU a signed Receipt of Medical Receipt Form, indicating all student medical release forms have been completed and received from the registered tour operator.

Host Families

Responsible for:

  • the safety and wellbeing of overseas students outside of school hours
  • arranging for the student to be accompanied to and from school
  • providing for the student's travel to and from school on public transport 
  • providing students with three meals a day.

Host families are volunteers and must

  • organise free Working with Children Checks for any member of the household who is over 18 years of age and present during the student's stay
  • provide the issued Working with Children Cards to the school person responsible for the program or, if in the event of an emergency placement where this card has not been issued, evidence that the Working With Children Check application has been submitted and a Statutory Declaration provided to the school relating to any recorded or pending convictions that may impact on their ability to act as a host.

See: Volunteer Checks.

Accompanying Adults

Must take care and responsibility as legal custodian for overseas students who are under 18 years of age.  They should:

  • be reasonably proficient in English
  • be available at all times to assist students, host families or the school contact person
  • attend school each day and take part in the school program, school activities and excursions
  • liaise between the host family, visiting overseas student and school contact person over any issues
  • attend medical or emergency rooms if a visiting overseas student is ill or injured
  • arrange for payment of any medical bills as a result of medical treatment of any visiting overseas student.


The ICSTU must:

  • negotiate with the interested tour operators, or overseas parties
  • provide advice to schools about the development and delivery of the Short-term Student Study Program, including the school-based program, homestay arrangements and legal matters
  • disburse funds received for Short-term Student Study Programs to host schools.

Registered Tour Operators

For all overseas students and accompanying adults, registered tour operators must:

  • ensure they have adequate medical and travel insurance and comply with the terms of the insurance cover
  • ensure that all accompanying adults are fully aware of their responsibilities
  • provide the school contact person with medical release forms and student profile forms
  • arrange airport transfers, air travel and all travel outside the requested Short-term Student Study Program.

Other requirements

This table describes other requirements for host schools.


Pre-arrival orientation

Provide a briefing for host families approximately one week before student arrival including:

  • an understanding of the culture, language or religious differences
  • the needs of young people away from their home environment
  • need for a clear flexible approach to matters of discipline, house rules and cooperative living
  • the types of meals to be provided (the student profiles from the registered tour operator will include dietary advice, including an indication of food the student cannot eat because of religious beliefs)
  • the school's complaints procedures
  • distribution of a list of host families with their assigned overseas student to all hosts, which includes the contact details of the:
    - family hosting the accompanying adult
    - contact details of the school contact person
  • provide a copy of the school program including dates and destinations of excursions, required clothing, and if lunch is to be provided.


The host school must provide a minimum of 3 hours per day intensive English:

  • conducted by ESL qualified teachers
  • in classes of no more than 20 students
  • in suitable rooms or classrooms.

Classroom attendance

Students should be integrated into normal school classes where language is not the main focus of the lesson, accompanied by their host brother or sister, where appropriate, depending on the size of the existing classroom and/or chosen theme.

Note: Participation in activities that are not part of the original study program are at the school's expense.


School excursion organised by the host school should:

  • be to a location agreed with the visiting group relating to their chosen theme, with any alterations negotiated between the host school, ICSTU and the registered tour operator
  • be accompanied by a staff member and some local students.

Farewell function

Schools should arrange a farewell party for the visiting group involving overseas students, staff and the host sibling/school buddy.

If the farewell party is requested out of school hours it is at the discretion of the host school whether to provide each student with a certificate of achievement. These certificates are supplied by the Department to the school at the start of the visit for the principal to sign.

Accountability and improvement

Completing the relevant School Compliance Checklist item (SL0012), confirming that the school has reported on the Short-term Student Study Program in its annual report.

Note: The Department's Portfolio Governance and Improvement Division may conduct an external audit to determine if schools are complying with their obligations under the Short-term Student Study Programs agreement.



This table describes how complaints are managed.



The school must develop and implement a complaints procedure for dealing with any complaints connected with the school visit that are made to the principal by:

  • a registered tour operator
  • overseas student
  • host family
  • parent/guardian.


The principal endeavours to resolve the complaint.


If the complaint is not resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant, the complainant should be instructed to forward to the Manager, ICSTU:

  • a copy of the written complaint
  • reasons for the dissatisfaction.


Manager, ICSTU reviews the complaint and takes action.

Related policies

Department resource

For more information see: International Students.