FAQs about student exchange programs in Queensland

General information

Information for schools



Student welfare

Sister school arrangements

General information

What is an international secondary student exchange (ISSE) program?

A high school student exchange program offers a cultural and educational experience for Queensland school students.

It is a reciprocal program where students attend a high school in another country, while students from other countries study in Queensland. The maximum period for anny ISSE program is 12 months.

Students participating in a registered student exchange program are exempt from paying tuition fees.

Student exchange programs do not include:

  • school group study tours
  • short term cultural or private visits by students holding Visitor Visas (such as private arrangements initiated by parents hosting relatives or family friends).

What is an exchange student?

Exchange students are international secondary students who:

The maximum duration of a secondary student exchange program is 12 months.

Who can operate an international secondary student exchange (ISSE) programs?

Only registered student exchange organisations can offer an ISSE program.
Exchange organisations can be either:

  • private organisations operating a not-for-profit ISSE program


  • schools with sister-school relationships which include student exchanges of up to 12 months.

A list of student exchange organisations is available (schools and registered student exchange organisations).

Can a student on a Visitor Visa be considered an exchange student?

No, international students on Visitor Visas seeking temporary enrolment in Queensland schools:

  • must pay tuition fees if enrolling in a Queensland government school (visit Education Queensland International for more details)
  • may be required to pay tuition fees if enrolling in a Queensland Catholic or independent school (for further details contact the school directly).

What guidelines exist in relation to the operation of these programs?

All Queensland student exchange organisations must comply with the Queensland Guidelines for the operation of international secondary student exchange programs (PDF, 1MB). These guidelines have been made under the Queensland Education (Overseas Students) Act 2008.


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

The student exchange organisation will contact the school requesting permission from the principal to enrol an exchange student.

Where a school agrees to an enrolment for the specified period, the organisation will:

  • forward the relevant information about the exchange student, the student's host family in Queensland and the contact details of the organisations' local coordinator to the school
  • ask the school to sign and stamp an AASES request form.

On arrival at the school, the exchange student (and/or the representative of the organisation) will provide the school with a copy of the student's AASES form.

The school completes Part D of the AASES form, keeps a copy on the student's school file and returns the completed AASES form to the exchange organisation.

Is a school obligated to accept exchange students?

No. The decision to accept or decline the enrolment remains at the Principal's discretion.

Before accepting an exchange student, principals may take into consideration:

  • availability of student places
  • appropriate timing of the program
  • support required
  • resources available to ensure that a satisfactory program can be offered.

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

No. Schools just need to check that the request to enrol an exchange student is from a Queensland registered student exchange organisation.

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

Schools should only accept enrolment of exchange students from a Queensland registered student exchange organisation.

There are 11 non-school organisations approved to provide student exchange programs in Queensland.

What is an 'Acceptance Advice of a Secondary Exchange Student' (AASES) form? What is it used for?

The AASES form is the official document generated by the Department of Education and issued to each exchange student through their student exchange organisation to enable the student to obtain an Australian Student Visa.

The student must present it when seeking an entry visa.

It can only be issued by the relevant state/territory registration authority to registered student exchange organisations once the student exchange organisation has provided evidence that satisfactory arrangements are in place for the student's education and welfare.

When schools sign and stamp the AASES request form, they are confirming their agreement to enrol the nominated student through the student exchange organisation. Exchange students then use the form to obtain a visa.

The AASES form is issued to a student once the student exchange organisation has provided evidence that satisfactory arrangements are in place for the student's education and welfare. The AASES form is considered evidence that a student has been accepted into a registered ISSE program, supporting the student’s enrolment in Queensland schools. Without the form, a student cannot be considered a bona fide exchange student, and therefore should not be enrolled under this category.

All of these forms issued by the Department of Education bear our logo and a unique number (e.g. Q2014/123).

If a school is registered as a student exchange organisation, can it enrol students from another student exchange organisation?

Yes. Schools that are student exchange organisations are able to host students through other student exchange organisations. In such cases, the duty of care and responsibility for reciprocity remains with the registered exchange organisation that is responsible for arranging the exchange, and not the hosting school.

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

No. Parents, schools, clubs and organisations that are not registered student exchange organisations, cannot arrange 'private' student exchange programs into Australia.

Parents and organisations seeking to enrol international students holding Visitor Visas in Queensland schools for short periods of up to 12 weeks are able to apply for enrolment, but:

  • must pay tuition fees if enrolling in a Queensland government school (visit Education Queensland International for more details)
  • may be required to pay tuition fees if enrolling in a Queensland Catholic or independent school (for further details contact the school directly).

Note: Only international students participating in exchange programs provided by a registered student exchange organisation are exempt from paying tuition fees.


Do secondary exchange students pay tuition fees?

No. Exchange students should only pay:

  • local school levies or charges relating to special subjects
  • school materials or resources that the student will retain
  • any fees associated with school camps or excursions.

These fees or charges should be discussed with the student exchange organisation at the time enrolment is discussed.

Note: student exchange organisations are required to balance the number of in-bound and outbound students on a student/month basis.

This means that over the course of the year, the number of Queensland secondary students undertaking exchange programs is balanced with the number of overseas exchange students studying in Queensland.

Is an exchange student with a Student Visa Subclass 500 regarded as a fee paying student?

No. The Student Visa Subclass 500 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.

Can exchange students be included in the school's census data?

Yes. Non-state schools can include exchange students in the Queensland school census as regular students if, immediately prior to the exchange, they were active in a classroom primary, secondary or special education program at a school which contributes to a Year 12 (or equivalent) certificate in their own country.  

For further information, non-state schools should refer to the funding information published by the Non-State School Accreditation Board

Student welfare

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

School responsibilities

Schools enrolling an exchange student have responsibility for the student while they attend school, school activities and excursions, as per their obligations to all enrolled students.

Schools are not expected to provide:

  • support or pastoral care for exchange students more than that normally provided to Australian students
  • crisis care or emergency management networks for exchange students, except where the school is the registered exchange organisation for the student.

All schools enrolling exchange students should ensure that they retain a mobile telephone contact number for the student's local coordinator for use in an emergency.

Student exchange organisation responsibilities

Student exchange organisations are responsible for arranging suitable accommodation, support and general welfare for the exchange student throughout the program, including during school vacations.

Student exchange organisations must also ensure that incoming and outgoing exchange students and host families have adequate local assistance and support.

Such support will:

  • cover appropriate reception, orientation, accommodation, transport and emergency arrangements
  • provide ongoing support and counselling networks for exchange students.

Sister school arrangements

My school has an overseas 'sister-school'. Do I need to become a 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 of less than 12 weeks, and hold an Australian Visitor Visa, you do not need to become a registered Student Exchange organisation.

You will need to register as a student exchange organisation if you want to expand your school-to-school exchange programs to offer opportunities for student exchanges of between 3 and 12 months, as your inbound students will require an Australian Student Visa to support their stay in Australia.