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Tuesday, 3 May 1994
Page: 136

(Question No. 1251)


Senator Bell asked the Minister for Employment, Education and Training, upon notice, on 23 March 1994:

  (1) Is it a fact that education institutions which accepted overseas students could be accredited only on the basis of adherence to guidelines issued by the Department as determined after inspection by an independent panel of experts.

  (2) Did these guidelines include a requirement to maintain and monitor records of student attendance at classes; if not, why not.

  (3) Is it a fact that at least one institution reported students who failed to comply with attendance requirements to the Department; if so, what action resulted.

  (4) Which institutions have been found to have more than 20 percent of their students overstay their visas and when, and was their accreditation reviewed; if so, what was the result of the review.


Senator Schacht —The Minister for Employment, Education and Training has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1) Before 1 January 1990 educational institutions providing English language courses (ELICOS) to international students were required to be accredited by the Department of Employment, Education and Training.

  Since 1 January 1990, the States and Territories have been responsible for the accreditation of all courses provided by educational institutions to international students, including English language courses.

  Institutions accredited by the Department of Employment, Education and Training before 1 January 1990 were accredited on the basis of the accreditation guidelines in force at the time (1985, 1987 and 1988 guidelines). Accreditation was on a provisional basis, followed by confirmation of accreditation after twelve months of operation.

  Under the 1985 guidelines, provisional accreditation was granted on the basis of a written submission. The guidelines required a general and professional evaluation for confirmation of accreditation.

  In addition to a written submission, the 1987 and 1988 guidelines required an inspection by an independent panel of experts for provisional accreditation. The guidelines required a further inspection by an independent panel of experts for confirmation of accreditation. Provisional accreditation and confirmation of accreditation were granted on the basis of the institution's adherence to the Department's guidelines as determined after the inspection.

  (2) The 1985 and 1987 guidelines did not require the monitoring of student attendance.

  The 1988 guidelines included a requirement for an accredited institution to report to the Department of Employment, Education and Training any student issued a visa who did not commence studies or who had unsatisfactory attendance.

  (3) and (4) A report from an institution accredited under the 1988 guidelines indicating that a student issued with a visa did not commence studies or had an unsatisfactory attendance record would be investigated by the Department of Employment, Education and Training. Where it was established that a student had not complied with the conditions of their visa by failing to commence studies or having an unsatisfactory attendance record, the Department of Employment, Education and Training would advise the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs which would consider follow-up action in respect of the student.

  Where it was established that an institution had not complied with the requirements of its accreditation, the guidelines provided for the accreditation of the institution to be suspended or the institution to be de-registered , with the consequence that no further visas should be issued to prospective students.

  A review of records to establish which institutions reported students who had failed to commence studies or who had an unsatisfactory attendance record, and specific action taken following such a report from an institution, would require excessive resources and effort to extract.