Melbourne/New Delhi: Australia has decided to close down three vocational colleges for non-compliance of training standards, a move that will impact more than 500 Indian students enrolled in these institutes.
However, Australian High Commissioner to India Peter Varghese on Wednesday assured that Indian students affected by college closures will be protected.
He was commenting on the move by Australia's vocational education regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), to shut down two non-compliant vocational education and training colleges in Victoria and one in New South Wales (NSW).
Following comprehensive compliance assessments, including multiple site visits by ASQA officers, the ASQA audits concluded that the colleges were non-compliant with the standards that providers are required to meet in the delivery of training to domestic and international students.
"The decision to reject a training organisation's registration is not one we take lightly but the interests of students and the integrity of training standards across the VET sector have to be upheld," said ASQA Chief Commissioner
"The institutions have the right to have ASQA's decision reviewed which may delay or change the decision," he said.
Depending on the outcome of any appeals, the decisions take effect from October 30 and apply to all courses offered by The Ashmark Group Pty Ltd and G Plus G Global Trading Pty Ltd. Both colleges have campuses in Melbourne, Victoria. ASQA also served notice last month on the Ivy Group in NSW.
There are over 400 Indian students enrolled at the Ashmark Group college, over 100 Indian students enrolled at G Plus G Global and a further 30 Indian students enrolled at the Ivy Group.
Varghese said in New Delhi that Indian students affected by the foreshadowed closure of three colleges in Australia will be covered by a legislated safety net.
"The Australian Government has in place a comprehensive suite of protection mechanisms to safeguard the interests of overseas students under the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (the ESOS Act)", said Varghese.
He added, "If these education providers do close and do not meet their obligations to students, international students will be able to access the Australian Government's Tuition Protection Scheme (TPS).
"The TPS will seek to place affected students in an alternative course or refund any unspent pre-paid tuition fees to the students".
He said, "Australia is committed to maintaining high education standards and undertaking rigorous auditing of education providers".