English Program



English Program

The English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) sector is an important one within the Australian Education system. In 2010, 140,102 student enrolments were counted* in the ELICOS sector. 60% of those students held Student visas, 23% Visitor and the remaining 17% Working Holiday & other visas.

Australia is proud of the reputation and quality of its English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS). The National English language training Accreditation Scheme (NEAS) maintains the high standard of Australia’s ELICOS courses. All prospective ELICOS providers must register with the National English language training Accreditation Scheme (NEAS) before they can offer ELICOS courses. NEAS maintains the high standards of Australia’s ELICOS courses, and also monitors providers to ensure that they continue to provide a high standard of education. NEAS looks at classroom sizes, teaching materials and the support services available for international students. 

Education providers who wish to offer courses to international students are also regulated through the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000 and associated legislation, which is managed by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). This legislation ensures the protection of international students’ rights at all times. The legal framework of the ESOS act was reviewed and amended by the Australian Government in early 2010. The ESOS Act requires all providers offering education to international students to register on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). It is illegal for providers to offer courses to international students unless they are CRICOS registered. 

General information

Students coming to Australia on a student visa to study ELICOS are required to study full time. There are generally no set course entrance requirements for ELICOS study but you should always check with your education provider. Tourists and visitors to Australia can also participate in ELICOS study during their stay as long as the course is fewer than 12 weeks long. Courses combining study and tourist activities have been designed specifically for student visitors. 

Course information

Institutions offer a wide range of courses suited to all learning needs. Courses include:

  • General English
  • English for Academic Purposes
  • English for Secondary School Preparation
  • English for Special Purposes (for example, English for Business)
  • IELTS and TOEFL test preparation
  • Cambridge test preparation
  • study tour programs (which include other extracurricular activities).

English proficiency tests

There are a number of tests in Australia designed to assess the English language proficiency of international students wishing to gain entry to Australian courses. The main ones are:

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

The IELTS comes in two test formats: ‘academic’ and ‘general training’. All test candidates take the same speaking and listening modules, but candidates have the option of general training or academic reading and writing modules. Academic modules are aimed at students wishing to study at university level. General training modules emphasise basic survival skills in a broad social and educational context and are suited to candidates wishing to attend secondary school, undertake training programs that are not at degree level or immigrate. The test is widely recognised by universities, employers, professional bodies and immigration authorities around the world. 

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

The TOEFL test measures candidates’ ability to understand and use English to the level that it is spoken, written and heard in a university setting. The test is widely recognised around the world and is available as a paper-based or internet-based test. 

Cambridge English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

The Cambridge ESOL exams assess English language proficiency for admission to university and other courses. The exams are recognised around the world by universities, employers and national education authorities. 

Occupational English Test (OET)

The OET tests the English language proficiency of overseas-qualified medical and health professionals wishing to undertake training programs or examinations in order to gain professional recognition and practise in Australia.