Hundreds of Nepali students in limbo as a tech college in Australia gets deregistered


The Kathmandu Post

- BINOD GHIMIREKATHMANDU, Uncertainty looms over the future of hundreds of Nepali students enrolled in an Australia-based technical institution as the country’s regulator for vocational and training sector deregistered the college after it failed to abide by existing education rules.

The Australian Skills Quality and Authority (ASQA), the regulatory body, on Tuesday revoked the vocational education and training accreditation of Australia Institute of Business and Technology, where around 90 percent of the 1,000 nursing students enroled are Nepalis. 

The regulating agency’s assessment showed that the institute had failed to demonstrate its marketing practices as accurate and factual.

The institute had acquired vocational education and training accreditation and the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for International Students registration, but it had failed to get the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council’s approval. Along with the council’s approval, the nursing institute also needs to get accreditation from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency for the placement and internship of the students in health institutes. 

The ASQA said the institute enroled the students without informing them that it didn’t have the approval from the nursing and midwifery council. Along with nursing, the Sydney- and Brisbane-based institute provides education in IT, community service and accounting. The cancellation of the institute will come into effect from March 26, and the institute can appeal against the decision at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in the next 28 days.

Santosh Pal, a student at the institute in Brisbane, told the Post over phone that students have been cheated by institute. “The institute has left us in a dilemma... and stress,” he said. “We want an immediate solution to this problem.” 
Currently, the Council of International Student Australia (CISA) is coordinating with different authorities to resolve the issue.

Bijay Sapkota, president of the CISA, said they are looking for different alternatives to ensure all the students get relief from the present crisis. 

The student’s council is set to hold a meeting with the Tuition Protection Service (TPS) in an initiative of the Australian Government to assist international students whose education providers are unable to fully deliver their course of study. The TPS ensures that international students will be able to complete their studies in another course or with another education provider or receive a refund of their unspent tuition fees.

Currently, there are three possibilities for the students. The first, and best, possibility is that they be allowed to continue their studies, but that is only possible if the institute wins the appeal from the tribunal. 

Another possibility is that after evaluating the courses offered by the institute, students are allowed to transfer their credits to another college. The third possibility is that students are given their tuition fee back. 

“We will take every possible step to ensure the problem doesn’t last long,” Sudip Sapkota, a Nepali student advocating for the rights of AIBT students, told the Post. The Non-Resident Nepali Association-Australia has also expressed its concerns on the issue and asked the governments from both Nepal and Australia to take proper action after probing the issue. “Both the governments must take stringent measures to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future,” read the NRNA’s statement issued on Wednesday.

According to CISA’s preliminary study, over two dozens education consultancies had sent students to the institute.