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Tuesday, 20 September 1994
Page: 1019

(Question No. 1561)


Senator Bell asked the Minister for Employment, Education and Training, upon notice, on 12 July 1994:

  (1) How many overseas students have been displaced by the collapse or failure of private colleges since February 1992.

  (2) How many institutions currently registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students have been registered since February 1992.

  (3) Are all institutions being effectively monitored by the State accrediting agencies.

  (4) What indication is there that any of these institutions are having any business or administrative difficulties.

  (5) Is there any reason to expect that any of these institutions are likely to collapse during the next twelve months.


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

  (1) I am advised that, since February 1992, 569 overseas students have been displaced as a result of the collapse or failure of colleges. Of these some 150 were offshore, awaiting the issue of a visa.

  (2) 228 institutions have been registered on CRICOS since February 1992.

  (3) The following States have legislation covering approval and/or registration of institutions to provide courses to overseas students.

  New South Wales—Vocational Education and Training Accreditation (Amendment) Act 1993

  Victoria—Vocational Education and Training Act 1990

  Western Australia—Overseas Students Education Service Providers (Full Fee Overseas Students) Registration Act 1991

  Tasmania—Education Providers Registration (Overseas Students) Act 1991

  Legislation is being drafted in Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory.

  All States/Territories have established guidelines for approving/registering institutions to provide courses to overseas students. Under these guidelines, an institution must satisfy financial viability as well as educational quality standards.

  An institution's approval and/or registration is subject to review. The review period is usually between three to five years.

  (4) and (5) Under the `registration of providers' provisions of the Education Services for Overseas Students (Registration of Providers and Financial Regulation) Act 1991 (ESOS Act) the Commonwealth Department of Employment, Education and Training (DEET) places on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) only those institutions and courses which a State/Territory authority advises have been assessed as meeting its financial and educational standards. DEET also suspends or cancels from the CRICOS those institutions and courses which a State/Territory authority advises do not continue to meet its financial and/or educational standards. The State/Territory is not required to advise DEET of the reasons for its advice to suspend or cancel an institution or course from the CRICOS.

  Under the `financial arrangements' provisions of the ESOS Act DEET assesses the dealings with international students' pre-paid course moneys by `non-exempt' institutions on the CRICOS. It does not set standards for, nor does it monitor, an institution's general financial situation and relies on the State/Territory authorities to monitor these matters. No State/Territory authority has advised DEET of any institution whose financial or administrative arrangements are expected to cause it to collapse in the next twelve months.

  In carrying out its responsibilities DEET may identify reasons to require an institution to provide further information about its dealings with students' pre-paid course moneys. Currently DEET is working closely with nine of the 287 providers which provided a `return' under the ESOS Act in 1992/93 and which have found it difficult to meet the financial requirements of the ESOS Act.