Australian college faces closure, impacting foreign students

February 16th, 2008 - 8:50 pm ICT by admin  

By Neena Bhandari
Sydney, Feb 16 (IANS) The dreams of many international students, including Indians, have soured as the private Global College here faces closure. However, not too many were happy with the institute as they were allotted courses other than what they had opted for. The college offers Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses in business, commercial cookery and hairdressing, popular with Indian students as they are on the Australian government’s “migration occupations in demand list”. This means students score more points in the points-tested migration programme while applying for a permanent resident visa.

But now the students risk losing thousands of dollars and being left with no option but to return home as the college will close its business, commercial cookery and hairdressing courses after failing to renew its registration with the Vocational Education and Training Accreditation Board of New South Wales.

Also, there were reports that quite a few students got admitted to courses they did not choose. Some Sikh students were compelled to take up hairdressing courses even while they had chosen to study commercial cookery.

One Sikh student told the Sydney Morning Herald: “When I said, ‘This is against my religion. I want a refund’, they said no.”

Sikh Council of Australia’s Secretary Bawa Singh Jagdev told IANS: “It’s shocking. In our religion, we respect hair. We are not supposed to cut our own or other people’s hair. Haircutting is not a profession for us.”

In some cases, the subjects opted by the students in India were said to have been changed on arrival. One student had opted for commercial cookery, but was forced to study business. However, the college claims that the students had been told that they would get a place in commercial cookery only if a space would be available.

But now the students have no choice but to return home.

According to Sydney Morning Herald, the college will be legally obliged to refund the students and its industry association, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET), will need to place them in courses with its other member colleges.

If there are not enough places, the federal government will have to foot the bill, but the students will still lose their airfare and the months or years they have spent in the course.

Global College’s operations manager, however, said it could not afford to refund its 900 students. “We would be financially crippled. We may as well just fold.”

The increasing number of full-fee paying Indian students is reaping rich dividends for Australia. India, with over 42,000 students, is now the second largest source of overseas students and a significant contributor to Australia’s international education export market, which is worth $12.5 billion to the national economy.

Education is Australia’s third biggest services export after coal and iron ore.

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