Foreign Branch Campuses

Relevant Legal Structure


In Australia from a foreign provider

According to the Australian National Protocols for Higher Education Approval Processes, foreign Higher Education Providers wishing to operate in Australia must offer “courses which have been properly accredited either through appropriate, authorized self-accreditation or by an overseas accreditation authority which, in the opinion of the Australian jurisdiction’s decision-maker, has appropriate standing and authority.” The higher education providers must also provide proof that they are legally established in one or more foreign countries, that their primary mission is higher education, and that they are adequately set up to deliver quality higher education.

The TEQSA Act regulates and monitors Australian higher education providers and makes no distinction between local and overseas-based providers in Australia where they offer/confer a higher education award for a course of study “provided wholly or mainly from Australian premises” such as through an:


  1. Australian located foreign branch campuses at which students will complete their entire course of study for a higher education award. In these cases, the overseas provider could apply to be registered in the Higher Education Provider (HEP) category or the Overseas University/ Overseas University of Specialisation categories, or
  2. Australian subsidiary who solely or jointly confer the relevant awards (on behalf of a foreign institution). Where an overseas entity establishes an Australian subsidiary that offers higher education awards, the subsidiary could apply to be registered in the HEP category or the Australian University College categories. If the subsidiary has been authorized for at least five years to self-accredit at least 85% of its total courses of study, the subsidiary could also apply for registration as an Australian University or Australian University of Specialization.

Foreign higher education providers may be required to establish local subsidiaries with the head office in the state or territory granting registration.


Course offerings not requiring direct registration with by TEQSA are:

  • International online courses offered by overseas providers
  • A foreign higher education provider who establishes arrangements with an Australian registered higher education provider where the Australian provider confers the higher education award if the overseas provider’s students undertake the majority of their course in Australia
  • A foreign higher education provider who offers students classes for shorter periods of time at Australian premises operated by the provider, either as part of a course of study towards an award that is completed mainly overseas or as a stand-alone course which does not involve conferral of an award. This arrangement would however require an agreement with the Australian provider that aligns with TEQSA requirements.


International branch campuses: Australia also permits its own higher education providers to establish branch campuses on foreign soil, so long as they abide by Australian and local regulations.


Institutional Support Available                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

The Department of Education and Training International Group develops and maintains Australia’s bilateral education relationships with Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the Americas and Asia through a broad range of bilateral agreements. Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) in education and training are developed to formalise relationships for co-operation with:

  • staff exchanges
  • development of institutional links
  • co-operation in research and development
  • recognition of qualifications and credit transfer
  • exchange of information on education policy, systems, curriculum development, governance, education materials, and
  • development of twinning programs.

Australia’s forums for multilateral engagement on education include the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).


As of June 2016, Australia is the fourth largest exporter of branch campuses in terms of institutions with branches at a total of 11, after United States (52), United Kingdom (29) and Russia (13). In addition, Australia is the fifth largest exporter of total number of branch campuses, with 15 after the United States (82), United Kingdom (38), Russia (20), and France (16).