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Student Exchange FAQs

What is an 'exchange student'?

Exchange students are international secondary students who:

  • are undertaking an exchange program of between 29 days and 1 year arranged by a registered school or an organisation approved by VRQA as a student exchange organisation,
  • hold a subclass 500 student visa, and
  • present an Advice and Acceptance of a Secondary Exchange Student form - (AASES form) to the school on arrival.

Can a parent of a student at my school arrange a private exchange program for their nephew overseas, and enrol the child as an 'exchange student' at my school?

No. Parents, schools, clubs and organisations that are not VRQA approved overseas secondary student exchange organisations (SEOs) cannot arrange 'private' student exchange programs into Australia.

Parents and organisations seeking to enrol international students holding visitor visas in Victorian schools may seek enrolment for short periods up to 12 weeks of tuition are able to apply for school enrolment, but:

  • must pay tuition fees if enrolling in a Victorian government school (for further details go to the DET International Division website)
  • may be required to pay tuition fees if enrolling in a Victorian Catholic or independent school (for further information contact the school directly).

Note: Only international students participating in exchange programs provided by VRQA approved SEOs are ‘exchange students’.

Does a principal need to seek approval to enrol an exchange student?

No. The Victorian Department of Education and Training;(DET) supports the overseas secondary student exchange program and values the cultural education and global learning that exchange programs bring to individual students and their school communities. Schools need to check that the request to enrol an exchange student is from a VRQA approved student exchange organisation. 

Is a school obliged to accept an exchange student?

No. The decision to accept or decline an exchange student resides at the principal's discretion. Principals may take into consideration school based issues such as the availability of student places, appropriate timing of the program, the support required and resources available to ensure that a satisfactory program can be offered before accepting an exchange student.

How do I know if the organisation that is proposing the exchange is approved?

Schools should only accept the enrolment of exchange students from a VRQA approved student exchange organisation (SEO). There are 12 non-school SEOs approved by VRQA to provide student exchange programs in Victoria:

  • AFS Intercultural Programs (AFS)
  • AFX Student Exchange Australia Ltd
  • Association of German Teachers of Victoria (AGTV)
  • Australian Institute for International Understanding (AIIU)
  • IndoAustay Australia Ltd
  • Nacel Australia
  • Rotary Youth Exchange Victoria
  • Scholarships for Australian-German Student Exchange (SAGSE)
  • Southern Cross Cultural Exchange
  • STS Student Exchange
  • Student Exchange Australia New Zealand Ltd
  • World Education Program (WEP)
  • Youth For Understanding (YFU).

If principals or school staff have concerns as to whether an organisation seeking to enrol an exchange secondary student is approved by VRQA they should contact the VRQA Manager School Projects on (03) 9032 1539.

Who is responsible for the accommodation and welfare of an exchange student?

Schools enrolling an exchange student have responsibility for the student while they attend school, and school activities and excursions, as per the obligations to all enrolled students. The VRQA approved student exchange organisation (SEO) arranging the exchange program is responsible for arranging suitable accommodation, support and general welfare for the exchange student throughout the program, including during school vacations.

All VRQA approved SEOs are required to have local coordinators in Victoria to support exchange students and to liaise effectively with schools. All schools enrolling an exchange student should ensure that they retain a mobile telephone contact number for the student’s local coordinator for use in an emergency. SEOs are responsible for recruiting, selecting and screening local host families for exchange students, and for monitoring and supporting students and host families during the exchange program. 

What is an AASES form?

 AASES stands for 'Acceptance Advice for Secondary Exchange Student. The AASES form (doc - 59.5kb) is the official student exchange visa/immigration document generated by the VRQA and issued;to each exchange student through their student exchange organisations (SEOs).

The AASES form is used for the processing of student visas and for the enrolment of exchange students in Victorian schools. Without an AASES form a student cannot be considered a bona fide exchange student, and therefore should not be enrolled under this category.

Immediately following the enrolment of an exchange student, the principal must complete and sign Part D of the AASES form. A copy of the completed AASES form must then be kept with the student;s school file and a completed and signed copy returned directly to the SEO. The AASES form is evidence that the student’s parents have authorised their child’s participation in the exchange program and enrolment at the school, and that the SEO has accepted responsibility for the welfare of the exchange student while they are in Australia.

All AASES forms issued by VRQA bear the VRQA logo and a unique AASES number (e.g. V14/1234).

What is the process for accepting and enrolling an exchange student?

The student exchange organisation (SEO)facilitating the exchange program will make direct contact with the school requesting permission from the principal to enrol an exchange student for a specific exchange program (advising of the proposed start and end dates).

Where a school agrees to an enrolment for that period, the SEO will forward the relevant information about the exchange student, the student’s host family in Victoria and the contact details for the organisation’s local coordinator.

On arrival at the school, the exchange student (and/or the representative of the organisation) will provide a copy of the student’s AASES form (Acceptance Advice of Secondary Exchange Student). The school completes Part D of the AASES form, keeps a copy of the AASES form on the student’s school file and provides a copy to the exchange organisation.

Do exchange students pay fees?

No. Official exchange students do not pay tuition fees as the Commonwealth Government and state/territory governments accept the enrolment of official exchange students as per local students. Approved student exchange organisations (SEOs) are required to balance the number of in-bound and out-bound students on a student/month basis. This means that over the course of the year, the numbers of Victorian secondary students undertaking exchange programs are balanced with the number of overseas secondary exchange students studying in Victoria.

Exchange students should pay any local school levies or charges relating to special subjects, school materials or resources that the student will retain, and any fees associated with school camps or excursions. These fees or charges should be discussed with the SEO at the time enrolment is discussed. 

The exchange student has a ‘Student Visa-Subclass 571’ - aren’t they regarded as fee paying students?

No. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection issues subclass 571 (Schools) student visas to international students undertaking courses or programs of full time study in a school. The 571 student visa is for the entire schools sector, and is issued to both full-fee paying international students and official exchange students. The proof that a student is an official exchange student is the AASES form.

Are exchange students eligible for student travel concession cards?

Yes. In Victoria, official exchange students can obtain Victorian student transport concession cards in the same manner as local students (this entitlement does not apply to full-fee paying international students.)

Who can I contact if I have an issue with a student exchange organisation?

If a principal or school staff member has a concern regarding a VRQA approved student exchange organisation that cannot be resolved with the organisation they should contact the VRQA Manager,School Projects;on (03) 9032 1539.

My school has an overseas ‘sister-school’. Do I need to become a VRQA approved student exchange organisation to host students from our sister school?

No – if the students from your ‘sister-school’ are undertaking a short term cultural visit to your school, and hold an Australian Visitor Visa, you do not need to become a VRQA approved student exchange organisation (SEO) where:

  • a ‘sister-school’ visit to a Victorian government school  is for less than 28 days (for further details contact the DET International Division website.
  • a ‘sister school’ visit to a Victorian Catholic or independent school  is for less than 12 weeks of tuition (for further information contact the school directly).

Schools that have an established ‘sister-school’ relationship with an overseas school may wish to seek VRQA approval as an SEO.

VRQA approval enables Victorian schools to expand their school-to-school exchange programs and offer opportunities for students exchanges of up to one year in duration. Information on applying for VRQA approval is available on this website or from the VRQA Manager,School Projects on (03) 9032 1539.