Fraudulent Course Providers in Australia will be Penalized
The federal government may shut down rogue course providers as part of a broad assault on rorts in the beleaguered foreign education sector.
A reform package set to take effect immediately tries to counteract an increase in exploitation and fraud that threatens Australia’s higher education system’s image.
As part of the changes, the amount of savings students must demonstrate in order to study in Australia will be increased, and the federal government will consider using its powers to suspend “high-risk” education providers, preventing them from recruiting international students.
A loophole will also be addressed to prevent providers from transferring overseas students from education to work, which was previously permitted for persons in the country for less than six months. Concurrent enrolments have increased dramatically this year, with recent investigations revealing that 17,000 new positions have been created, compared to around 10,500 for the same period in 2019 and 2022 combined.
Jason Clare, the education minister, stated that maintaining integrity in the industry is critical for the economy and Australia’s regional connections.
International education is the fourth-largest export industry in Australia, paying billions of dollars in university financing each year. “International student enrolment is nearly back to pre-pandemic levels.” That is a nice thing… However, there are problems in foreign schooling,” Clare stated.
“As students have returned, so have some shady and unscrupulous players looking to take advantage of them.”
“This modification will work to prevent predatory second providers from enrolling students before they have completed the required six months of study at their first provider.” This will assist to protect the integrity of one of our most important exports while cracking down on shady businesses.”
The federal government will raise the amount of money that international students must save in order to obtain a student visa. The statistic has not been adjusted since 2019 and does not account for the rise in living costs.
International students will be required to provide proof of $24,505 in savings beginning October 1, a 17% increase from the existing number. To prevent application fraud, “high-risk cohorts” will be subjected to more examination, with additional evidence necessary.
This year, international students spoke out against a restriction in allowable working hours while studying in Australia, noting the punishing cost of living that exceeded expectations.
Clare O’Neil, the home affairs minister, said it was “critical” that Australia’s global image for outstanding education would not suffer as a result of the rorts.
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A parliamentary enquiry earlier this year heard that Australia’s international student system had devolved into a “Ponzi scheme” in which overseas agents were paid bonuses to entice foreign students with the promise of full-time jobs.
The government has launched an immediate consultation on potential laws that would establish clear grounds for suspensions, such as application rates with false documents and provider denial rates.
Visa denial rates for more than 200 suppliers above 50%. The practice is especially common in the private VET and TAFE sectors.
Brendan O’Connor, the skills and training minister, stated that it is “critical” to ensure the quality of the VET sector.
“Nine out of every ten future jobs will require a post-secondary qualification, and VET is an important pathway to securing jobs,” he said. “We are committed to changing people’s perceptions of VET, and this is an important step in that direction.”
A migration strategy, to be presented later this year, will include additional steps to improve sector integrity.
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