One more technical institute in Australia with hundreds of Nepali students faces deregistration ​

2019-06-02

The Kathmandu Post


KATHMANDU : Yet another wing of the Australia Institute of Business and Technology with hundreds of Nepali students has been deregistered by the country’s regulator for the vocational and training sector for failing to meet the admission compliances.

The Australian Skills Quality and Authority (ASQA), the regulatory body, which had deregistered AIBT in February, now has taken similar action against its international wing—the AIBT-International. 

The institute, along with two other vocational and training institutes—NSW Business College and Zarah Institute of Education—faced the action with effect from June 19. The business college and Zarah institute have few Nepali students, but a majority of around 1,200 students at the AIBT-International are Nepalis. The regulatory body said the institutes were deregistered as they were found not to be abiding by the existing education rules.

The AIBT has been running two institutes targeting international students, mostly Nepalis, where students were enrolled in diploma courses on nursing, IT, community service and accounting.

“We are in a dilemma. The college has asked us to continue classes but we are worried about our future,” an IT student from the institute told the Post requesting not to disclose the identity because he feared action from the college administration. 

In recent times, many vocational and training institutes (VET) in Australia are facing actions from the regulatory agencies for failing to meet quality and to demonstrate fair marketing practices.

Representatives of the Council of International Students Australia, an organisation of international students in the country, say some 200 such training institutes faced actions in the past year.

However, unlike AIBT, others have very few Nepali students.“Hundreds of international students including from Nepal are going through a tough time following the ASQA’s action,” Bijay Sapkota, president of the council, told the Post. “We are taking some legal steps to seek a permanent solution to this problem.”

The AIBT authorities told the Post that there was no need for the students to worry as they have already taken legal steps against the ASQA’s decision. Every institute can seek a review of the decision from the regulatory body. 

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has been set up to hear such cases, but the AIBT has directly filed a case at the Federal Court of Australia, which is the superior court of record and a court of law and equity of the country, calling for declaring the decision invalid and directing the regulatory body to revoke its decision.

“The court hearing is likely early this month. By then, we hope that we can deliver good news to our stakeholders and valued students,” Fiona Kee, head of compliance at the AIBT, told the Post in an email interview.

The representatives of the education consultancies also say students don’t need to worry even if the institutes are closed, as their credit transfer and fee protection will be taken care of.

“The students should not stop attending classes as long as the institutes function,” said Rajendra Rijal, vice-president of the Education Consultancy Association Nepal, an umbrella body of the country’s educational consultancies.The incidents of Nepali students getting in trouble at their foreign academic destinations, mostly in Australia, are increasing as their numbers have gone up significantly in recent years.

Records at the Ministry of Education show only 16,504 students had acquired ‘No Objection Certification’ letters, which are required to study abroad, in the fiscal year 2013-14.The number increased fivefold last fiscal, with 62,800 students acquiring the certificate to study in 72 countries.Among them, some 32,200 students got the certificate to study in Australia.Nepal is currently the third largest contributor of international students to Australia. Rijal said the Australian authorities have started saying that this is not an “organic” growth. 

“I think the time has come for us to reconsider before sending students for the VET programmes,” Rijal told the Post.

“The Australian authorities also have started tightening visas for such programmes,” he said. “Visa rejection for such programmes is around 70 percent at present.”