Page 4113 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 22 October 1991

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The attraction of the Australian National College of Business and English is the tertiary accredited A courses. When students enrol in one of these courses they are entitled to bring their spouse and dependent children from the country of origin on a two-year visa. Many of the students who arrive on this program are genuinely interested in the advantages of education in Australia, and the program needs protection for these people. It needs protection from shonky operators, and from ghost students who abuse the system to come to Australia to work for the two years. Protection is required if the industry is to be maintained as aboveboard.

Ghost students have been enrolling in courses, primarily the tertiary accredited A courses at the Australian National College of Business and English, through the Woods Sydney office. They never appear on the rolls in Canberra. The scam is that the students pay in the order of $5,000 for a two-year opportunity to work in Australia, with the excuse that they are undertaking a tertiary accredited A course. The fee allows for a spouse to work as well. For having these ghost students on the books, Woods Colleges Worldwide makes $10,000 over a two-year period per student for not much more than a book entry.

In the meantime, the reputation of Australia's overseas education industry is put at risk. With unemployment levels over 10 per cent, they are bringing in foreign workers to take Australian jobs. While this is not acceptable, most reasonable people recognise the appropriateness of the current system which provides for up to 20 hours work for genuine students to allow them to service the two years of their course. The tertiary accredited A courses are valuable. There is a very time consuming and vigorous process required for such accreditation. The size of the scam is the question, and it is the question which must be investigated now, while the Australian overseas education industry heads on a rapid slide into decline.

With this background, it is appropriate for members of the Assembly to be concerned about what happens when colleges such as the Australian National College of Business and English close. What happens to the students who have come to Australia in good faith? What happens to a growing education industry if we allow this industry to be a front for an immigration or work visa scam?

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Assembly adjourned at 10.50 pm

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