Consultancy firms of Australia colleges unite to assuage students


The Kathmandu Post

- BINOD GHIMIRE - KATHMANDU, Following widespread criticism from various quarters, four rival umbrella bodies of the consultancies came together on Wednesday in an attempt to pacify the anger among the affected students and their parents following the deregistration of Australian Institute of Business and Technology last week.

Educational Consultancy Association of Nepal (ECAN), International Education Representative Initiative of Nepal, Free Educational Consultancies Organisation of Nepal (FECON) and Nepali Association of Australia Education Representatives, which have long been vocal critics of each others, held a joint press meet in the Capital where they unanimously said they were sensitive towards resolving the ongoing problem. The member consultancies of all four umbrella bodies were involved in sending students to the institute despite knowing it didn’t have needed accreditation from the Australian authority.

The Australian Skills Quality and Authority (ASQA), the regulatory body, on February 19 revoked the vocational education and training accreditation of the institute, where around 743 Nepali students are enrolled for the nursing programme. A preliminary investigation by a Ministry of Education probe team showed around 150 consultancies were working as “Nepal agents” for the institute to send students from here. 

“We are sensitive towards the problem facing the students in the aftermath of ASQA’s action. We are on regular consultations with the students and stakeholders concerned to address the problem,” said Bishnu Hari Pandey, the president of ECAN. Though the leaders of the umbrella bodies primarily blamed the Nepal government for issuing ‘No Objection Certification’ letter and the Australian government for issuing visas, they said they were ready to take the moral responsibility of the case.  

The leaders said they are in regular touch with the education consultancies who were involved in sending students to the institute and have urged them to resolve the problem by transferring them to other institutions. “As the institute has appealed for the revocation of the decision, we have to wait till the result of the appeal is out,” said Yubraj Katwal, the chairman of FECON. 

The umbrella bodies said that the Australian government’s Tuition Protection Service, which is applicable when the education institutes are closed, will help students either to get transfer to other education institutions or get refund of their unspent fee. 

A large number of Nepali students got enrolled in the institute because it accepted the students with low IELTS, language proficiency test, score and had reasonable fee structure compared to others, they said. “We also call on the government for an effective monitoring of the education consultancies and ensure the provision of reward and punishment based on their performance,” they told the press meet.

The associations, however, did not talk about the two other institutions--Nurse Training Australia and Australian Health and Management Institute--where they have sent dozens of students despite knowing that their accreditation have been revoked by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council.