The Kathmandu Post
BINOD GHIMIRE, KATHMANDU, The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has said that around 150 consultancies sent Nepali students to Australia Institute of Business and Technology, the Sydney-based institution that faced action last week for enrolling students in the nursing programme without accreditation from Australia’s nursing and midwifery council.
An investigation team led by Dev Kumari Guragain, joint-secretary at the ministry, has written to all the consultancies, most of which are based in Kathmandu, to produce details about the number of students they sent to the institute, within seven days. It has also asked them to clarify in writing what plan they have for the transfer of, and compensation to, the students who have been affected by the revocation of the vocational education and training accreditation from the Australian authority.
A member of the probe team told the Post that the preliminary investigation has found that around 150 consultancies were working as “Nepal agents” for the institute to send students from here.
The ministry, however, is unaware of the number of students each of the consultancies had sent. The preliminary investigation shows 743 students from Nepal were pursuing a diploma in nursing at the institute.
“While we have dispatched emails to those 150 consultancies, we are publishing a public notice to 1,475 consultancies to inform the ministry if they have sent students to the institute,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
On Sunday, the investigation team summoned the owners of nine consultancies to inquire about the incident. The nine consultancies were found to have sent 60 students to the institute, prompting the probe committee to broaden its scope of investigation.
The owners of the consultancies, who were present before the probe team, took moral responsibility and assured that they would do the needful to ensure the affected students’ transfer to other colleges and help them for compensation if needed.
Rajendra Rijal, manager of Kathmandu Infosys, said his consultancy had sent five students to the institute, clearly explaining to them that it did not have accreditation from the Australian authority.
Accreditation from the council is a must for the placement and internship of the students in health institutes. A nursing course is incomplete without an internship in hospitals or health centres.
“However, we take the moral responsibly and we are already working to ensure their transfers [to other institutes],” he told the Post. “Of the five students we had sent, two have already received offer letters from another institute.”
Following media reports that Nepali students in Australia were in limbo, the ministry on Friday formed the four-member investigation team to find out the reality and recommend necessary actions.
The Nepali Embassy in Australia is also in regular consultation with the Australian government authorities to find an amicable solution to the problem.
Drupada Sapkota, acting Nepali ambassador in Canberra, said the Australian authorities have assured necessary help. At the same time, according to him, the authorities have suggested action against the consultancies involved in the malpractice.
Officials from the Department of Education and Training in Australia told her that the fault lay with the institute and the respective consultancies that sent the students there.
As the Australian authority has already taken action against the institute, it now wants the Nepal government to hold the consultancies accountable, she said.
“Now, all eyes are on the Education Ministry’s probe committee,” she told the Post over the phone.
Sapkota said the embassy also has received complaints about the Sydney-based Australian Health and Management Institute, and Nurse Training Australia, which had also enrolled dozens of students in the nursing programme without accreditation.