Overview of the Secondary Student Exchange program

- Due to the impact of COVID-19, inbound and outbound exchange commencements are currently suspended. -

The secondary student exchange program in NSW is a state specific reciprocal program whereby students from another country are enrolled as full-time students in a NSW secondary school for a period ranging from three months (or one full school term) to one year. Under similar program conditions, students from NSW are able to enrol full-time, in a recognised course of study in an overseas country.

Exchange programs provide a broad educational experience for students and increase international and cultural understanding among young people.

Secondary student exchange programs are different from the full-fee paying International Students Program and Study Abroad program offered in NSW Government Schools.

Secondary student exchange programs in NSW are operated by registered not-for-profit exchange organisations or registered secondary schools.

After approval, secondary student exchange students enter the country using an Acceptance Advice of Secondary Student Exchange (AASES) form on a 500 Student Visa with full-time study as the major focus.

Enrolment requirements

In NSW, secondary exchange students must:

  • be school age students from Year 10 to Year 12
  • enrol as full-time secondary students through a registered exchange organisation
  • submit an AASES form at the time of enrolment
  • study for a minimum period of three months (or a full school term) and for one year maximum.

Secondary exchange students cannot:

  • be Year 13 (Gap year) students
  • choose a specific school or location in NSW or determine their own course of study
  • make private arrangements with a known host family or school.

Exchange organisations are responsible for:

  • providing screening processes for selecting incoming and outgoing students
  • selecting only those students of appropriate maturity levels with the potential to benefit from the experience.

Start dates

Students may commence study at anytime throughout the year but must receive advice from the registered student exchange and approval from the host school prior to enrolment. Our school year consists of four terms.


Student exchange organisations manage school placements. School availability is at the discretion of the school Principal. If the Principal determines that a place is available, an agreement may be entered into with the registered student exchange organisation. The organisation will then apply to DE International for an Acceptance Advice of Secondary Exchange Student (AASES) form.

Accommodation Options

Exchange students must be accommodated with a host family arranged by a registered student exchange organisation.

Visa and immigration requirements

Overseas students participating in a secondary student exchange program in NSW are issued a student visa (subclass 500) as they are enrolled as a full-time secondary student in a recognised course of study.

To remain compliant with student visa conditions exchange students must:

  • fulfil all requirements of their student visa
  • attend the appointed school full-time and not undertaking any other significant studies
  • behave in an appropriate manner as agreed under the terms of the relevant exchange program and comply with school codes of conduct, regulations and conditions of enrolment
  • not undertake paid employment beyond a maximum of twenty hours per week, providing this employment does not interfere with or otherwise affect the student's studies and school performance
  • leave Australia on completion of the exchange program or earlier if circumstances develop that lead the exchange organisation, at its discretion, to believe that the student's further participation in the program is not appropriate.

Health cover requirements

Payment of Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is a precondition for a student visa.

Exchange organisations are responsible for ensuring that Overseas Students’ Health Cover (OSHC) has been paid prior to a student’s departure.

Overseas student health cover


Fees are paid directly to registered student exchange organisations. For further information refer to your selected student exchange organisation.

In NSW, secondary exchange students are entitled to free student travel passes if they meet the requirements applicable to NSW school students. Applications to travel companies for travel concessions should state that the student is on a secondary student exchange program. The AASES form can be used as proof.

Support for overseas students during their stay

Student exchange organisations must provide support to incoming and outgoing exchange students including:

  • appropriate reception and orientation
  • accommodation
  • transport arrangements en route between their natural and host families
  • monthly contact with a local coordinator
  • ongoing support and counselling.

Registered student exchange organisations act as the central liaison between schools, host families, students and their families – including general and emergency communication as well as feedback and complaints.

If an issue related to a student exchange cannot be dealt with satisfactorily at the school level, contact should be made with the registered organisation. If a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached with the organisation then contact should then be made with DE International at  studentexchange@det.nsw.edu.au