Panel concludes probe into consultancies of Australian colleges but recommends action against none

2019-03-15

The Kathmandu Post

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- BINOD GHIMIRE- KATHMANDU, A committee under the Ministry of Education, formed to probe the wrongdoings of the consultancies which sent hundreds of students to Australia for a nursing degree in an unaccredited institute, has concluded its investigation without recommending any actions against the involved education consultancies.'

The synopsis of the report, a copy of which has been obtained by the Post, shows the investigation was just a formality which talks at length about the steps needed to be taken to improve the education-consultancy sector, but remains largely silent in suggesting any actions against the wrongdoers. 

The probe team, which spent around three weeks in investigation, couldn’t even find the actual number of Nepali students who have suffered because of  their enrolment in the Australia Institute of Business and Technology’s nursing programme, which did not have any certification from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council. The report is also not clear on the number of consultancies that were involved in sending students to the institute. 
The report shows the probe team largely relied on the information it received from the education consultancies, and it has recommended necessary action against only those consultancies that didn’t share the information the probe committee had demanded. 

“Take necessary action, after clarification, against the consultancies which didn’t share information the committee had demanded,” reads one of the recommendations in the synopsis. 

The committee on February 26 had asked the 1,473 consultancies registered with the Education Ministry to submit details of the number of students who had been sent to the institution. As many as 275 consultancies submitted their information which showed they had sent 244 students for the nursing programme and 655 for other courses.

“Though media reports claimed 743 students suffered after the Australian Skills Quality and Authority revoked the vocational education and training accreditation of the AIBT, the report from consultancies shows that actually only 244 students suffered,” reads the report. 

A member of the committee said the detailed report submitted to Education Minister Giriraj Mani Pokharel on Tuesday contains 44 pages and the synopsis was drawn based on the final report. 

The report hasn’t been made public so far and the members of the probe panel have been asked not to speak to the media.  “We are not authorised to share the details of the report,” said a member of the committee requesting anonymity. 

A senior ministry official said there was continuous lobby from leaders of the umbrella body of the consultancy firms when the investigation was being carried out. “We were not worried a bit about any action [against us]. The probe team had no ground to recommend action,” an office-bearer of the Education Consultancy Association, told the Post, requesting anonymity. Hundreds of Nepali students enrolled in the AIBT are still in a dilemma about their situation and are waiting for the decision from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal due on March 26.