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English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) Program Manual

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Section 1 - Introduction

(1) The Education Services for Overseas Students Act (Cth) 2000 (ESOS) and the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students, 2018 (the Code) requires the University of Newcastle (University) to have documented policies and procedures for students enrolled in English language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS).

(2) This manual documents the University's policies relating to ELICOS Programs and students.

(3) Course outlines for English language courses offered by The English Language Centre at the University can be found in the document – UON - English Language Courses.

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Section 2 - Audience

(4) This manual applies to:

  1. any student participating in an ELICOS program;
  2. any staff member, unit, division, faculty, school or committee responsible for oversight and decision-making, operationalisation, administration and management of the ELICOS program; and
  3. staff with responsibilities for teaching and supporting students of the ELICOS program.
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Section 3 - Scope

(5) This manual applies to students who are seeking enrolment, admission, participating, or completing an ELICOS program with the University.

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Section 4 - Definitions 

(6) In the context of this manual:

  1. “attendance” means a student's physical attendance at ELICOS classes, and excludes all absences from these classes, regardless of the reason for the absence;
  2. “contact hours” means the face to face teaching hours, usually 20 hours per week / 4 hours per day;
  3. “course of study” is the duration of study specified in the student's electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (COE);
  4. “external proficiency test” refers to validated tests of English language proficiency that are developed by external organisations (such as International English language Testing System (IELTS), Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE), and the Pearson Test of English (Academic)). These external proficiency tests can be used by University of Newcastle to advise students on an appropriate ELICOS program duration. To be valid, external proficiency test results must be no more than two (2) years old, from the date the test was undertaken;
  5. “formative assessment” is an in-process evaluation of student comprehension, learning needs and progress during teaching;
  6. “offshore placement test” refers to an English proficiency placement test delivered offshore by agents. In the absence of other valid external proficiency test results accepted by the University, the offshore placement test is used as a guide to determine the duration of an ELICOS program the student may need to undertake before commencing their University of Newcastle program;
  7. “onshore placement test” refers to an English proficiency placement test delivered by the University of Newcastle English Language Centre. The onshore placement test is used by The English Language Centre to place students in the most appropriate ELICOS level, based on their current English proficiency; and
  8. “satisfactory pass” refers to an overall ELICOS grade commensurate with the minimum English language proficiency requirements stipulated for a particular University degree program or NIC diploma or foundation program.
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Section 5 - Application

(7) The University's ELICOS Programs are designed to assist international students develop their English language skills to meet the University’s English language proficiency requirements, under the direct entry arrangement with the University or Newcastle International College (NIC).

(8) The University establishes its English Language Proficiency Requirements via the English Language Proficiency for Admission Policy.

(9) For students who wish to participate in the University's ELICOS program the following pathways are available:

  1. a satisfactory pass of the Advanced English for Academic Purposes level will gain direct entry into:
    1. a University undergraduate or postgraduate degree;
    2. the Newcastle International College (NIC) Foundation Program for Medicine, and Foundation Program leading to Health Sciences; or
    3. the Newcastle International College (NIC) Diploma (Fast track and Standard track);  
  2. a satisfactory pass of the Upper Intermediate English for General Purposes level will gain direct entry into the Newcastle International College (NIC) Diploma + Provisional Entry Program.

(10) Students can transition to the above ELICOS levels by completing a lower English language level offered by the University

(11) Minimum English language proficiency requirements for the University's degree programs can be found in English Language Proficiency Requirements.

Application Criteria

(12) Applicants seeking entry into an ELICOS program must provide evidence of English language proficiency by completing an English language proficiency test. The test may be:

  1. an external proficiency test that has been undertaken no more than two years prior to enrolment, from the date the test was undertaken; or
  2. an offshore placement test; or
  3. an onshore placement test.

(13) The applicant’s results achieved in an external proficiency test may be used to determine the most appropriate program for that applicant.

(14) An applicant who completes an offshore placement test may also be required to complete an onshore placement test after arriving at the University.

Application Process

(15) Applications for entry into an ELICOS program can be made by applicants themselves, or via a registered overseas representative. (See How to Apply). 

(16) Each application into an ELICOS program is processed by International Admissions. If the application is successful, International Admissions will issue a Letter of Offer to the applicant.

(17) Applicants issued with a Letter of Offer for an ELICOS program of more than 3 months in duration will be required to hold a valid Australian Government Student Visa that will enable them to study within Australia. 

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Section 6 - Offer Acceptance Process

(18) To accept their offer international students must read and fully understand the terms and conditions set out in the Letter of Offer and meet all conditions outlined in the offer, including:

  1. completing and signing the offer acceptance;
  2. making the total deposit payment at the link provided in the offer letter; and
  3. returning the completed and signed offer acceptance form to ia@newcastle.edu.au, together with the proof of payment.

(19) Detailed information is available for students on the Accepting Your Offer page.

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Section 7 - Deferment

(20) Students may apply to defer their commencement in an ELICOS program under compelling and compassionate circumstances only.

(21) Students wishing to defer commencement of an ELICOS program should contact International Admissions (international-reception@newcastle.edu.au) and must supply evidence of compassionate and compelling circumstances in accordance with Clause 22 of this manual.

Compassionate and Compelling Circumstances

(22) Compassionate and compelling circumstances are generally those circumstances which are beyond the control of the international student, and which have an impact on the student's course progress or wellbeing.  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  1. serious illness or injury, where a medical certificate states that the international student was unable to attend classes;
  2. bereavement of close family members, for example parents or grandparents. (Where possible, a death certificate should be provided as evidence);
  3. major political upheaval or natural disaster in the student's home country, requiring emergency travel where this will likely impact on the international student's studies;
  4. a traumatic experience where this will impact on the international student, which could include one of the following, (these cases should be supported by police or psychologist’s reports):
    1. involvement in, or witnessing of a serious accident; or
    2. witnessing or being the victim of a serious crime;
  5. inability to begin studying on the course commencement date due to a delay in receiving a student visa.

(23) All requests for consideration of compassionate and compelling circumstances will be assessed based on the individual student's circumstance.

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Section 8 - Arrival Process

(24) The University provides international students with information to ease their journey into a new country, including a Checklist of things to do before leaving home and after arriving in Australia.

(25) After arriving at the University international students with an ELICOS pathway are advised to access the English Language Centre’s New Student Welcome page.

(26) In the event a student's English language proficiency results from an offshore placement test and an onshore placement test vary, the Program Convenor may advise the student to commence their ELICOS program at a different course level to that recommended in the Letter of Offer that was issued based on results of an offshore placement test.

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Section 9 - Mandatory Attendance Obligations

(27) The University is legally obliged to impose Commonwealth legislative requirements regarding attendance of international students in ELICOS Programs. International students must comply with the University's attendance requirements in order to retain their enrolment in the ELICOS program, and their Australian Government student visa.

(28) The University will inform students enrolled in an ELICOS program prior to commencement of the attendance requirements via the following documents:

  1. the Letter of Offer which is sent to students prior to commencing the program; and
  2. written notification of the attendance requirements, which is provided during orientation.

Attendance Requirements

(29) ELICOS students must maintain a minimum course attendance rate of 80% of the scheduled contact hours over their course of study in an ELICOS program.

(30) Please see an example of how the 80% attendance requirement is calculated in the Example Attendance Hours.

(31) The University may report a student to the Department of Home Affairs for unsatisfactory attendance if:

  1. the student's attendance rate falls below 80%; and
  2. it is clear that the student will not be able to reach 80% attendance by the end of their ELICOS course of study following the implementation of an intervention strategy; and
  3. the student chooses not to access, or fails to access the Show Cause Process or any subsequent appeals process outlined in this manual within the required timeframe after being notified of the University’s intention to report the student to the Department of Home Affairs; or
  4. the student formally withdraws in writing from the Show Cause Process or any subsequent appeals process before a determination is made.

(32) The University may decide to not report a student to the Department of Home Affairs for falling below 80% attendance if the student is projected to attend at least 70% of the scheduled contact hours and provides genuine evidence of compassionate and compelling circumstances in accordance with Clause 22 of this manual.

Recording and Assessing Attendance

(33) Student attendance will be recorded every hour by the ELICOS teacher on the student roll of the class. If the student is absent from class for any reason, the student's record will be marked as absent.

(34) The student will be marked as absent for one (1) hour if the student:

  1. is late for class by more than 15 minutes; 
  2. leaves the class for more than 15 minutes before the end of class; or
  3. is absent from the class for more than 15 minutes.
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Section 10 - Mandatory Progress Obligations

(35) The University is legally obliged to impose Commonwealth legislative requirements regarding academic progress of international students  in ELICOS Programs. International students must comply with the University's progress requirements in order to retain their enrolment in the ELICOS program, and their Australian Government Student Visa.

(36) The University will inform students enrolled in an ELICOS program prior to commencement of the University's progress requirements via the following documents:

  1. the Letter of Offer which is sent to students prior to commencing the program; and
  2. written notification of the progress requirements, which is provided during orientation.

Progress Requirements

(37) ELICOS students must achieve completion of a course level within a maximum of thirty (30) weeks.

(38) Students will be determined as at risk of not meeting the mandatory progress obligations if:

  1. they fail a formative assessment;
  2. they fail to achieve the required final grade for one course level, after 10 weeks of study;
  3. they fail to achieve the required final grade in the same course level after 20 weeks of study; or
  4. do not achieve the required final grade in the same course level after 30 weeks of study.

(39) The University will monitor students progress and should the student be determined as at risk of not meeting the mandatory progress obligations, the University will implement appropriate and intervention support strategies.

(40) Intervention strategies may include:

  1. academic progress interview(s);
  2. academic counselling;
  3. self study resources;
  4. linkage to relevant support services;
  5. enrolment in a lower course level;
  6. development of a learning plan.

(41) Students who fail to attend an academic progress interview may be issued with a Notification of Intent to Report a Student which will provide students with details of how to access the Show Cause process.

(42) Students who fail to meet the requirements of a course level after 30 weeks will be issued with a Notification of Intent to Report a Student which will provide students with details of how to access the Show Cause process.

(43) Students are able to access the Show Cause Process outlined in this manual, within 20 working days of receiving a Notification of Intent to Report a Student.

(44) The University is obliged to report a student who has breached the University’s progress requirements to the Department of Home Affairs if the student:

  1. access the available Show Cause process within 20 working days, and the show cause finding is that the breach will be upheld;
  2. does not access the available Show Cause process or any subsequent appeals process as outlined in this manual within the required timeframe, or chooses not access these processes; or
  3. withdraws in writing from the Show Cause process or any subsequent appeals process outlined in this manual prior to a determination being made.
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Section 11 - Leave

(45) ELICOS students have the following options for leave during their ELICOS course of study:

  1. Leave of Absence; or
  2. Approved Leave.

(46) Please refer to the ELICOS Student Leave Options for further information regarding leave.

Absences Due to Illness

(47) Students are required to advise The English Language Centre of their inability to attend classes due to illness as soon as possible.

(48) Students are encouraged to provide medical certificates for all absences due to illness as this documentation may be used as supporting evidence in the event the Show Cause or any subsequent appeal process. The University will obtain copies of medical certificates provided to verify an absence due to illness and return the original to the student

(49) Documentation submitted to support sick leave, such as medical certificates, will be managed in accordance with the University's Privacy Management Plan and the Records and Information Management Policy.

Process to Request a Leave of Absence or Approved Leave

(50) To request Leave of Absence or Approved Leave, the student must obtain appropriate documentation to establish compassionate and compelling circumstances, as outlined in Clause 22.

(51) The student must complete a Request for LOA / Approved Leave Form and then make an appointment to see the ELICOS Program Convenor or their nominee to provide the documentation and to discuss the request and the impact of the circumstances on their study, enrolment and Student Visa status. The Program Convenor or their nominee will advise the student of their decision in relation to the request.

(52) Where a student's period of enrolment may finish either during the period of leave being requested or before the student can achieve the English proficiency requirements for their next program, the student must extend their ELICOS enrolment so that a Confirmation of Enrolment (COE) can be issued before the LOA/Approved Leave request can be approved.

Failure to Return From Leave

(53) Where a student does not return from leave that has been approved the student may be considered to be in breach of the mandatory attendance obligations.

(54) Students may seek to extend periods of leave under compassionate or compelling circumstances, which are outlined in Clause 22. 

(55) Requests to extend periods of leave under compassionate or compelling circumstances must be:

  1. made to The English Language Centre within five (5) working days prior to the Approved Leave / Leave of Absence end date; and
  2. supported by genuine evidence of the compassionate and compelling circumstances.

(56) The Program Convenor, or their nominee, will consider all requests to extend approved periods of leave.

Non-Approved Leave

(57) Students who do not attend classes and who have not been approved to take leave or extended leave may be considered to be in breach of the mandatory attendance obligations and may be issued with a Notification of Intent to Report a Student.

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Section 12 - Show Cause 

(58) The ELICOS Show Cause process is available to students who have been issued with a Notification of Intent to Report a Student for breach of progress or attendance requirements. The ELICOS Show Cause process cannot be accessed where a matter has been, or is being dealt with, under the University's Complaint and Grievance Resolution Procedure.

(59) During the Show Cause process, the student is required to:

  1. maintain their enrolment; and
  2. continue to attend classes.

Timeframe to Submit A Show Cause Letter 

(60) From the date of receipt of a Notification of Intent to Report Students, an ELICOS student has 20 working days to submit a Show Cause letter to the ELICOS Show Cause Committee.

(61) If a student does not access the Show Cause process within 20 working days of being notified of their breach status, The English Language Centre will:

  1. proceed to report the student to Department of Home Affairs;
  2. cancel the student's Confirmation of Enrolment (COE); and
  3. inform the student in writing of the need to seek advice from the Department of Home Affairs on the potential impact on their Australian Government Student Visa.

Show Cause Letter Requirements

(62) The student's Show Cause Letter must be addressed to the Director, Pathways and Academic Learning Support Centre, who chairs the ELICOS Show Cause Committee, and must include:

  1. the student’s reasons for not meeting the University's progress or attendance requirements, supported by documentary evidence, in accordance with clause 63; and
  2. any additional evidence or information in support of their case.

(63) Documentary evidence must meet the following requirements:

  1. the document must be:
    1. in its original format if hard copy, or a copy certified by a Justice of the Peace; or
    2. an electronic colour scan of original documentation; or
    3. an electronic copy of a document certified by a Justice of the Peace;
  2. medical certificates or other supporting documentation from a health professional must be on letterhead, be signed by the health professional, and contain the health professional’s:
    1. provider number;
    2. registration number (or similar if provided from outside of Australia);
    3. full name, address and contact details; and
  3. if the documentation is not in English, a certified translation to English must be provided.

(64) Please see the University Support and Services webpage for how to access a Justice of the Peace.

Support Person

(65) Students who have submitted a Show Cause Letter may be accompanied by a support person when they appear before the ELICOS Show Cause Committee. 

(66) The support person is not permitted to speak during the committee appearance unless invited to do so by the Chair of the committee.

ELICOS Show Cause Committee

(67) The ELICOS Show Cause Committee meeting will be called within 20 working days of receipt of a student's Show Cause letter.

(68) The student will be advised by the Secretary to the ELICOS Show Cause Committee of when and where the Committee meeting is to take place.

(69) The ELICOS Show Cause Committee will comprise of at least 3 of the following staff:

  1. the Director, Pathways and Academic Learning Support Centre (Chair), or their nominee;
  2. the relevant ELICOS Program Convenor or ELICOS Deputy Program Convenor;
  3. one other staff member from the Pathways and Academic Learning Support Centre, as determined by the Chair; and
  4. one co-opted member from outside the Pathways and Academic Learning Support Centre, for particular cases.

(70) The ELICOS Show Cause Committee must uphold the Gender Inclusive Membership of University Committees Policy.

(71) All Committee members are required to uphold the University's Conflict of Interest policy and any associated procedure.

(72) The Committee will consider:

  1. whether due process was followed;
  2. any mitigating, compelling or compassionate circumstances provided by, or on behalf of the student; and
  3. whether the decision to report the student to the Department of Home Affairs should be upheld or dismissed.

(73) The Secretary to the ELICOS Show Cause Committee will record the minutes of the meeting and retain copies of the minutes in accordance with the University's Records and Information Management Policy.

Outcomes of the Show Cause Process

(74) The student will be notified of the outcome of the Show Cause process within 10 working days of the ELICOS Show Cause Committee hearing the case.

(75) The outcome may be one of the following:

Table 5 – Outcomes of the Show Cause Process

Outcome Actions
It is determined that due process has not been followed. 
No report to the Department of Home Affairs will be made. The Committee Chair will notify the student of the outcome in writing.
Compelling or compassionate circumstances have been accepted. No report to the Department of Home Affairs will be made. The Committee Chair will notify the student of the outcome in writing.
No mitigating circumstances have been accepted.
The case is dismissed once the period for an Internal Appeal has lapsed and where the student does not notify of their intention to access the internal appeals process, as outlined in this manual.
The intent to report the student to the Department of Home Affairs will be upheld once all appeal periods are lapsed.
The student will be notified in writing and provided with the details and timeframes regarding further avenues of appeal.
The English Language Centre will notify the Department of Home Affairs and cancel the student's Confirmation of Enrolment (COE) if not notified of any appeal within 20 working days of notification.

(76) Where the Show Cause Committee determines that there are no mitigating circumstances, the student will be notified in writing, which will include:

  1. details of the decision that has been made by the Show Cause Committee;
  2. advice regarding the student’s option to access the Internal Appeal process and the date by which this must be accessed;
  3. details of whom a request to access the Internal Appeal process should be addressed; 
  4. details of how a request to access the Internal Appeal should be made; and
  5. details of available support services.

(77) Where it is determined that due process has not been followed, the Show Cause Committee will:

  1. provide recommendation regarding preventive or corrective action;
  2. ensure that this recommendation is implemented immediately; and
  3. advise the student of actions taken.

Appealing an Outcome of the Show Cause Process (Internal Appeal)

(78) A student may appeal a decision made under Clause 75 to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Vice President within 20 working days of the date of the Show Cause Outcome notification.

(79) Where the student chooses to appeal a decision made under Clause 75 they must notify the English Language Centre in the Pathways and Academic Learning Support Centre (Language.Centre@newcastle.edu.au) of their intention to appeal, and provide evidence of the appeal.

(80) An appeal of the outcome of the ELICOS Show Cause process must be in writing and must include evidence that any of the following grounds have occurred:

  1. that the requirements of this manual have been breached by the University;
  2. that the original determination was affected by a conflict of interest; or
  3. new information has become available that could not reasonably have been provided by the student earlier, and it is probable that this information would have affected the show cause determination.

(81) If a student does not submit an internal appeal, The English Language Centre will inform the student in writing of their right to an external appeal with the NSW Ombudsman.

(82) If the student does not submit an Internal Appeal or External Appeal, all avenues of appeal will be considered exhausted and The English Language Centre will cancel the student's Confirmation of Enrolment (COE) and report the breach to the Department of Home Affairs.

Internal Appeals Process

(83) Upon receipt of an appeal of the outcome of an ELICOS show cause process that is made within the timeframe outlined in Clause 78, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Vice President:

  1. will consider the information provided in the appeal, to the extent that the information relates to one of the grounds of appeal set out in Clause 80;
  2. will consider material taken into account by the ELICOS Show Cause Committee in making their determination, which is relevant to the grounds of the appeal; and 
  3. may request further information from the student or from the ELICOS Show Cause Committee.

(84) The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Vice President will either dismiss the appeal or uphold the appeal.

(85) Upon determination of the appeal, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Vice President will:

  1. inform the student in writing of the determination of the appeal, including reasons for the determination, via the student's University email account;
  2. where the appeal is dismissed, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Vice President will inform the student:
    1. that they may have the right to further appeal outside the University to the NSW Ombudsman;
    2. of the NSW Ombudsman contact details;
  3. send a copy of the determination notification to The English Language Centre for appropriate action.  

(86) The determination of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Vice President is final, and there is no further avenue of appeal within the University.

(87) Where the student's internal appeal is not upheld and where the student does not notify The English Language Centre that they have submitted an External Appeal to the NSW Ombudsman within 10 working days, The English Language Centre will cancel the student's electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (COE), as well as any remaining enrolment, and report the matter to Department of Home Affairs.

External Appeals

(88) External avenues for further appeal may include an appeal to the NSW Ombudsman.

(89) If a student chooses to submit an External Appeal, they are required to notify The English Language Centre (Language.Centre@newcastle.edu.au) of their intention to do so within 10 working days of being notified in writing of the outcome of the internal appeal by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Vice President, and provide evidence of their External Appeal to The English Language Centre.

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Section 13 - Complaints

(90) A student may choose to lodge a formal complaint under the University's Complaint and Grievance Resolution Procedure if the requirements of this Program Manual have been incorrectly applied, or where procedural fairness has been denied.

(91) A matter cannot be dealt with under both the Show Cause Process and the Complaint and Grievance Resolution Procedure.

(92) Where a complaint is being lodged by a student in response to being notified of the University's intention to report a student for breach of attendance or progress requirements, the student must:

  1. notify The English Language Centre of their intention to lodge a complaint;
  2. lodge their complaint within 20 working days of being notified of the University's intention to report a student for breach or attendance or progress.
  3. notify The English Language Centre should they withdraw from the Complaint and Grievance Resolution Procedure.

(93) During the complaints process, the student is required to:

  1. maintain their enrolment; and
  2. continue to attend classes.