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Wednesday, 29 November 2000
Page: 20199


Senator Carr asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on 6 September 2000:

(1) On what grounds has the department deemed Wesley Institute of Language and Commerce's parent organisation guarantee to be sufficient to warrant exemptions from some requirements of the Education Services for Overseas Students (Registration of Providers and Financial Regulation) Act 1991 (the ESOS Act).

(2) What monies or other assistance has the parent organisation, Wesley Mission, provided to students displaced by the closure of Wesley Institute of Language and Commerce.

(3) (a) What other providers have been granted exemptions from some requirements of the ESOS Act, on the basis of parent organisation guarantees, in the past 5 years; and (b) in each case, what were the reasons for such exemptions.

(4) What criteria (for example equity levels, equity:debt ratios etc.) apply to parent organisations providing such guarantees.

(5) What other grounds, other than parent organisation guarantees, enable providers to gain exemptions from the ESOS requirements relating to tuition assurance funds, or any other ESOS Act requirement.

(6) Do the grounds for exemption provide guarantees that students will receive `equivalent tuition', as guaranteed by the Tuition Assurance Schemes currently in place.


Senator Ellison (Special Minister of State) —The Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Wesley Institute of Language and Commerce (WILC) is the registered business name of the joint venture business established pursuant to an agreement made on 6 July 1999 between the Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (NSW) for Wesley Mission, trading as Wesley Institute for Ministry and the Arts, Drummoyne (WIMA) and Vision College Pty Ltd (Vision College). WILC did not hold a Parent Organisation Guarantee (POG). WIMA obtained a POG from the Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (NSW) for Wesley Mission which offers each student for which it is responsible under the ESOS Act, an indemnity equivalent to that provided by an insurance policy that complies with regulation 15 of the Education Services for Overseas Students (Registration of Providers and Financial Regulation) Regulations (ESOS Regulations). Overseas students enrolled at WILC were covered by this indemnity.

(2) Wesley Mission has advised that on 22 August 2000 former WILC students were formally advised that WILC had ceased operations. Wesley Mission arranged a meeting on 25 August 2000 at the Southern Cross Hotel in Sydney where the students met with officials from the Department, Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, the NSW Vocational Education and Training Accreditation Board and peak industry bodies to discuss procedures for transfer to other colleges. The students were able to obtain details of the refunds they were entitled to receive, details of other providers offering comparable courses, and advice on their obligations under the Migration Act 1958 to continue to satisfy their visa conditions. Wesley Mission also established a telephone hotline for students to contact during and outside business hours where they could make enquiries or leave messages for advice on refunds, transfer arrangements to other colleges and how and where to obtain academic transcripts. Wesley Mission has paid out $536,934.00 in refunds to 506 former WILC students.

(3) (a) Over the past five years, the following providers have been granted exemption from the requirements of section 7A of the ESOS Act pursuant to subregulation 9(2)(b)(ii) of the ESOS Regulations:

- Adelaide College of Ministries, 01126M

- Anutech Pty Ltd, 01129G

- Assembly of God Paradise Inc, 01027C

- BAE Flight Training (Australia) Pty Ltd, 01596C

- Christian Heritage College, 01016F

- Insearch Limited, 00859D

- International Education Services Ltd, 01697J

- Luther Seminary, 00707J

- Macquarie Research Ltd, 01388M

- Monash International Pty Ltd, 01857J

- New Tribes Bible Mission (Australia) Ltd, 00998D

- Perth Theological Hall, 00700E

- The Pines Training Centre, 01986M

- The University of Notre Dame Australia, 01032F

- Presbyterian Theological Centre, 00684M

- Queensland Baptist College of Ministries, 00663E

- Rhema College of Christian Ministries Ltd, 01593A

- Southern Cross College of the Assemblies of God in Australia, 00958A

- Strikeforce Ministry Training Institute, 01239B

- Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (NSW) for Wesley Mission, 00858E

- University of Canberra College Pty Ltd, 01893E

(b) The following providers have been granted exemption from the requirements of section 7A of the ESOS Act because of the special nature of their courses [subregulation 9(2)(a)(i)] and the POG offers each student indemnity equivalent to that provided by an insurance policy that complies with regulation 15 of the ESOS Regulations, [subregulation 9(2)(b)(ii)]:

- Adelaide College of Ministries, 01126M

- Christian Heritage College, 01016F

- Insearch Limited, 00859D

- International Education Services Ltd, 01697J

- Luther Seminary, 00707J

- Macquarie Research Ltd, 01388M

- Southern Cross College of the Assemblies of God in Australia, 00958A

- The Pines Training Centre, 01986M

The following providers have been granted exemption from the requirements of section 7A of the ESOS Act because in the circumstance, they could not reasonably be expected to become a member of a Tuition Assurance Scheme (TAS) [subregulation 9(2)(a)(ii)] and the POG offers each student indemnity equivalent to that provided by an insurance policy that complies with regulation 15 of the ESOS Regulations, [subregulation 9(2)(b)(ii)].

- Perth Theological Hall, 00700E

- Strikeforce Ministry Training Institute, 01239B

- The University of Notre Dame Australia, 01032F

The following providers have been granted exemption from the requirements of section 7A of the ESOS Act because they did not wish to become a member of a TAS [subregulation 9(2)(a)(iii)] and the POG offers each student indemnity equivalent to that provided by an insurance policy that complies with regulation 15 of the ESOS Regulations, [subregulation 9(2)(b)(ii)].

- Anutech Pty Ltd, 01129G

- Assembly of God Paradise Inc, 01027C

- BAE Flight Training (Australia) Pty Ltd, 01596C

- Monash International Pty Ltd, 01857J

- New Tribes Bible Mission (Australia) Ltd, 00998D

- Presbyterian Theological Centre, 00684M

- Queensland Baptist College of Ministries, 00663E

- Rhema College of Christian Ministries Ltd, 01593A

- Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (NSW) for Wesley Mission, 00858E

- University of Canberra College Pty Ltd, 01893E

(4) Providers claiming exemption from the requirements of section 7A of the ESOS Act in accordance with subregulation 9(2)(b)(ii) of the ESOS Regulations are required to:

. supply evidence that the claimed parent organisation is a separate body, and that it is the holding company of or otherwise controls the provider. The "parent organisation" should be generally equivalent to a "parent entity" in Corporations Law;

. supply evidence that reveals the parent organisation's financial position, including the parent organisation's accounts and a balance sheet showing that its net tangible assets are such that there are sufficient financial resources to meet a demand made under the guarantee should it be called upon.

(5) Providers that are administered by a State or Territory education authority, and providers that are entitled to receive funds under a law of the Commonwealth for recurrent expenditure for the provision of education or training are exempt, under regulation 8 of the ESOS Regulations, from the following:

. section 6A of the ESOS Act - the requirement to pay course money into a notified trust account;

. section 7A of the ESOS Act - the requirement to be a member of a tuition assurance scheme; and

. section 8 of the ESOS Act- the requirement to report annually on transactions in respect of a notified trust account.

Providers that receive an amount of course money after the date the agreed goods and services have been provided and have a written agreement with each student stating that payment will be accepted after the date are exempt, under regulation 6 of the ESOS Regulations, from:

. section 6A of the ESOS Act - the requirement to pay course money into a notified trust account.

Providers that receive an amount of course money for tuition fees as defined in regulation 2 are exempt, under regulation 6A of the ESOS Regulations, from:

. subsection 6A(1)(b) of the ESOS Act - the requirement to pay all course money into a notified trust account; in relation to so much of the amount as does not exceed 20% of the amount.

Providers that receive an amount of course money for course enrolment fees as defined in subregulation 6A(3) of the ESOS Act are exempt, under regulation 6A of the ESOS Regulations, from:

. subsection 6A(1)(b) - the requirement to pay all course money into a notified trust account; in relation to the amount.

Providers that have students who do not pay directly or indirectly for the course are exempt, under subregulation 9(1)(a) of the ESOS Regulations, from:

.section 7A of the ESOS Act - the requirement to be a member of a tuition assurance scheme in relation to that course.

Providers that have a written agreement with each student which specifies that course money is payable only on completion of:

. the full course and that payment for all other goods and services is required only after their provision, or

. a part of the course for which another provider registered on CRICOS will give the student credit and that payment for all other goods and services is required only after their provision;

are exempt, under subregulation 9(1)(b) of the ESOS Regulations, from:

. section 7A of the ESOS Act - the requirement to be a member of a tuition assurance scheme in relation to that course.

Providers that provide a course in a State or Territory where the requirement to belong to a TAS has been suspended by virtue of section 9 of the ESOS Act are exempt, under sub-regulation 9(1)(c) of the ESOS Regulations, from:

. section 7A of the ESOS Act - the requirement to be a member of a tuition assurance scheme in relation to that course.

Providers that are unable to become a member of a TAS because of the special nature of the course offered; or that cannot reasonably be expected to become a member of a TAS; or that are unwilling to join a TAS and have obtained an insurance policy or a bank guarantee that satisfies regulation 15 are exempt, under subregulation 9(2) of the ESOS Regulations, from:

. section 7A of the ESOS Act - the requirement to be a member of a tuition assurance scheme.

(6) No. A TAS established for the purposes of subsection 7A(1)(a) of the ESOS Act requires that an overseas student who has paid course money to a provider that is a member of a TAS, is:

. provided with education or training equivalent to that which he or she has paid for, if the member provider does not provide a course on the agreed starting date or ceases to provide a course to the student if he or she has not withdrawn from the course; and

. not required to pay any additional tuition fees for the portion of the course for which tuition fees have been paid. therefore:

. a provider that is (in relation to a course) exempt from TAS membership under subregulation 9(1)(a) of the ESOS Regulations, is not required to provide equivalent education or training because the student has not paid tuition fees for the course; and

. a provider that is (in relation to a course) exempt from TAS membership under subregulation 9(1)(b) of ESOS Regulations, is not required to provide equivalent education or training because the student is only required to pay tuition fees after the education or training has been provided.

Under subregulation 9(2) of the ESOS Regulations, an insurance policy, bank guarantee or parent organisation guarantee that complies with regulation 15:

. indemnifies students, who has paid course money in advance and who is entitled to a refund in accordance with section 6B or section 6C of the ESOS Act, against the unauthorised use of, or dealing with, course money by the provider or an employee of the provider;

. enables indemnified students to make a claim directly to the insurance provider or guarantor;

. provides for payment to a student who is entitled to a refund under section 6B or section 6C, of at least an amount being the difference, if any, between the amount refunded under section 6B or section 6C and the amount the student is entitled to be refunded where an equivalent course is made available; and

. provides for payment of the total liability for each student who is entitled to a refund under section 6B if an equivalent course is not made available or the student elects to return to his or her home country.