Are you reporting your overseas student correctly?
Three key issues are seriously affecting the quality and usability of the data reported to HEIMS on overseas student fees. While there are some variations around these issues, they generally relate to:
- significant numbers of overseas students being reported with tuition fees of $0
- the reporting of the total fee more than once during the year, leading to excessively high fees that do not represent what a student was actually charged
- Reporting the total fee for a course that is longer than one year in a single year, with no fee reported in subsequent years.
Please ensure that when you report your student submissions your overseas student fees are correct.
This will ensure the data you sign off in your verification reports, which is used for the higher education publications and time series reports, will be accurate and reliable.
Tuition fees of $0
Just under 30 percent of overseas higher education students are currently being reported with tuition fees of $0. This is an exceptionally high percentage given the small number of circumstances under the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA) in which a fee is not required.
Under the Act you must report the tuition fee for an overseas student for each year of their course. The only exceptions to this rule are overseas students who are not subject to the minimum indicative fee requirements (Opens in a new window: Ch. 6 of the Higher Education Provider Guidelines). These students are:
- overseas students in a course of study for which the department has approved charges less than the minimum indicative fee
- overseas students undertaking study in Australia as part of a formal exchange programme, including research students under co tutelle arrangements
- overseas students undertaking study in Australia towards a Research Master's degree or a Research Doctoral degree who have been awarded a scholarship for that study on the basis of merit following a competitive process.
- overseas students undertaking study wholly off shore at an off shore campus of an Australian Higher Education provider.
Please check that the only overseas students you have reported without a tuition fee meet one of these categories.
Incorrect reporting of fees
Tuition fees for overseas students are not reported in the same way as tuition fees for domestic students. Overseas fees are reported for a course for the year (Element 500) rather than as a fee for each unit of study.
You can report this fee in a way that best suits your administration processes. HEIMS will total all amounts reported on Element 500 for the year into a single total fee. As an example, if the total fee for a course for an overseas student in 2015 is $10,000, it can be reported as:
- as a single total amount of $10,000 once a year.
This can be reported in the first submission of the year or at a time that best suits you. [In the other 2015 submissions for the student you would report a fee of $0].
- in instalments across the year. This may be:
- two half yearly instalments of $5,000 or
- four quarterly instalments of $2,500.
In a similar way, if the student's course is longer than a year their fees should be pro-rated across the length of the course. If for example, a student is charged a total fee of $15,000 for a 1.5 year course, the fee for the first year of study would be reported as $10,00 and $5,00 for the next half year component of the course.
Please remember that if you have made arrangements with a student that allows them to pay their fees through a payment plan that is a matter between your organisation and the student. It does not affect the total amount of the fee to be reported to the department.
You can view a complete list of the overseas student fees you have reported for 2015 in your HEIMS Online Data View reports at any time throughout the year. You must also verify the accuracy of your data in this report twice a year during verification.