What is CRICOS?

What is CRICOS?

Do you work for an education provider that provides training to international students in Australia? Then you need to know about CRICOS. This nationally-recognised register is the difference between compliant and non-compliant accredited training for foreign learners and ensures that the highest standards are upheld. 

Important update: If you are visiting our site after the recent “Return to Complianceannouncement in early 2023, make sure you read our section pertaining to this important information. 


  1. What is CRICOS?
  2. Why Do Australian Education Providers Need to Register with CRICOS?
  3. How to Apply for CRICOS Registration?
  4. CRICOS Requirements
  5. ESOS “Return to Compliance” – Important CRICOS Update
  6. How Do I Check If An Education Provider is CRICOS Compliant?
  7. Frequently Asked Questions about CRICOS
  8. The Best Ways to Prepare for International Students
  9. Wrapping Up

What is CRICOS?

The Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) lists all the education providers licensed to enrol and teach overseas students in Australia. It also contains the approved courses for each institution.

As part of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) framework, every training provider that offers vocational training for international students must meet the required standards and get listed as an authorised training organisation on the commonwealth register.

CRICOS applies to all training providers, including those that are offering English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS).

Why Do Australian Education Providers Need to Register with CRICOS?

If you want to teach overseas students, it is a requirement to be listed on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students. If you are only training local students, then it is not necessary to register. 

There are two reasons why training providers should get a CRICOS registration:

  • To deliver VET or higher education courses to international students
  • To offer English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS)

Let’s discuss them further.

1. Delivering VET courses to learners with international student visas

CRICOS registration is compulsory for providers wishing to enrol and train overseas students legally.

Australia’s international education sector has considerable growth potential. Logically, many training providers want to jump on the train, especially with expectations for a post-pandemic boom. 

Here’s what the numbers currently say about Australia and overseas students:

  • Australia is the 3rd most satisfying country in the world for international students.
  • Presently, it is the home of nearly 700,000 overseas students.
  • In 2018, international students injected $31.9 billion into the Australian economy, directly boosting Australian jobs and wages and lifting the living standards in the country.

2. Offering English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS)

In addition to vocational education and training, some training providers offer courses to improve international students’ proficiency in the English language. To do this, you need to list the ELICOS course in your application for CRICOS registration.

There are a few reasons international students may wish to improve their proficiency in English:

  • It can help them improve their chances of finding employment as job seekers 
  • It can help them feel more connected to their community and improve their social circumstances.

How to Apply for CRICOS Registration

In order to be listed on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions, you need to approach the authority relevant to your sector. RTOs in the VET sector need to go through the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), while higher education institutions need to go through Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). 

A training provider intending on offering courses to overseas students needs to submit the following documents:

  • A financial viability risk assessment tool
  • A fit and proper person requirements declaration
  • Self-assessment forms

Financial viability risk assessment tool

The financial viability risk assessment tool is a well-laid-out report confirming the financial viability of the business offering training services. It is typically prepared by an accountant and shows the training provider’s financial history and projections.

Fit and proper person requirements declaration

ASQA and TEQSA use the Fit and Proper Person Requirements 2011 to determine a training provider’s compliance for CRICOS registration. The idea is to ensure that key training organisation personnel have the characteristics and principles to deliver high-quality services and outcomes for international VET graduates.

You can download the Fit and proper person requirements declaration (DOC) for ASQA and TEQSA.

Self-assessment forms

As part of the training provider registration process, they need to submit self-assessment forms to show that they can deliver training and assessments while managing administrative duties including student enrolment and support. It also tests their knowledge and compliance with Australian VET and RTO regulations.

If you plan to offer both VET and ELICOS courses, you will need to complete all three forms:

CRICOS registration doesn’t cover all the courses that education providers offer, which means you can only apply for a particular course for a specific state at a time. So, if you want to provide multiple courses in more than one state, you need to submit separate applications.

For further information and resources on CRICOS registration you can refer to the following websites:

CRICOS Requirements

A CRICOS registration comes with a ton of obligations. For example, as a registered CRICOS provider, you must meet the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Framework requirements at all times to avoid noncompliance. You must also keep the 11 standards of the National Code 2018.

In addition to acting within the stipulated legislative framework, CRICOS educational training providers must:

  • Guarantee high-quality training experience for international students throughout the course duration
  • Pay ASQA’s annual CRICOS registration charges on time
  • Meet the Tuition Protection Service (TPS) requirements
  • Turn in detailed reports on students’ information, education agents, course deferrals and the like

ESOS “Return to Compliance” – Important Update

In March 2020, TEQSA and ASQA announced regulatory flexibility for educational services provided to international higher and vocational students studying either in Australia or offshore, due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The requirements in the National Code for face-to-face learning were relaxed, allowing providers to deliver their courses online.

In November 2021, they updated this advice, foreshadowing a return to compliance with the ESOS National Code and ELICOS Standards during 2022, as international students were gradually expected to return to study in Australia.

By June 30, 2023, ASQA expects providers to transition to compliance with the ESOS National Code, which is safe and practical. This transition period allows providers to forward plan, including enrolling students and commencing courses of study in early 2023. Providers are expected to actively adjust modes of delivery and student support services to comply with the National Code.

ASQA acknowledges that returning to compliance by June 30, 2023, may pose challenges for some providers. They will consult with peak bodies, monitor the transition across the sector, and engage specific providers facing unique circumstances.

Best Way to Plan for “Return to Compliance”?

Many RTOs switched to online delivery during the pandemic. However, if you offer courses to students on a visa you will now have to rethink your course content and the platforms you use – or will you?

Traditional Learning Management Systems are limited in their ability to offer a blended learning approach. 

Blended learning is when a provider or facilitator offers a mix of both online and face-to-face delivery methods to achieve the best outcomes for their learners and to ensure compliance. Cloud Assess is flexible training and assessment software built for practical learning. As there is no one size fits all to learning, especially in VET, you need a solution that moulds to your requirements.

With the most flexible assessment solution on the market, you can effortlessly return to compliance as an ESOS provider without any pain. If you want to see the benefits of using Cloud Assess first-hand, book a free demo so that we can answer any questions you might have. 

Next read: Learn more about how to successfully implement a blended learning approach.

How Do I Check If An Education Provider is CRICOS Compliant?

If you’re an international student looking for CRICOS-compliant training, it’s important to do your due diligence. The CRICOS list is accessible by anyone through the official website. You can use one of the following three search methods:

  1. Course search: Find CRICOS-compliant training providers based on the specific course(s) that you want to complete.
  2. Institution search: Search for CRICOS-compliant training providers based on their names or institution code. 
  3. Geographical search: Use the interactive map of Australia to find compliant training providers in the state/territory of your choosing. 

Frequently Asked Questions about CRICOS

1. How long does CRICOS registration last?

Seven years.

2. How do I renew My CRICOS registration?

You need to submit your renewal application at least 90 days before the expiration of your current registration. 

3. What does a CRICOS code mean?

A CRICOS code is a registration number assigned to the courses offered by CRICOS providers.

4. Is CRICOS registration free?

The CRICOS registration process is not free. Typically, the application assessment doesn’t begin without the invoice payment. Extra fees and annual registration charges also apply.

5. How long does CRICOS registration take?

When you send in your initial registration application, you should expect feedback between 6-9 months or 130 working days. In the same vein, change of scope applications take 130 working days.

The Best Ways to Prepare for International Students

More than applying for CRICOS registration, there are other things to do as you prepare to enrol international students as a registered training provider. Here are some of our best tips:

Wrapping Up

Overseas students present lots of opportunities for training providers. While you prepare for a return to compliance, training organisations can use Cloud Assess to deliver continuous learning experiences to local and international students. You can try out our free trial to see how it works with your training organisation. 

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