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Thursday, 25 November 1999
Page: 10702

Senator CARR —My question without notice is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs. Can the minister confirm that the ad hoc committee, established by the Commonwealth and the states and chaired by the departmental officer Mr Gallagher to look into the credentials of Greenwich University, has concluded that Greenwich is not a bona fide Australian university? Can the minister further confirm that the committee has found against Greenwich on a range of grounds and criteria? Will the minister now detail those grounds?

Senator ELLISON (Special Minister of State) —I am not aware of where that ad hoc committee is at the moment. But can I say that this has been a thorough inquiry by an ad hoc committee which the Commonwealth recognised needed to be established and one which Senator Carr tried to beat up into something which it was not. But I will make inquiries to see where that committee is at.

Senator CARR —Madam President, I ask a supplementary question. I take it that the minister is taking that question on notice. I would ask him further: does the minister agree that there are already several unaccredited universities like Greenwich operating on the Internet and passing themselves off as bona fide Australian higher education institutions by various means? Does the minister further agree that the government at the moment has no regulations or legislation in place to stop a flood of these dubious providers from passing themselves off as properly established Australian universities? When will the government act to protect this highly important export industry by moving to require accreditation of private higher education providers?

Senator ELLISON (Special Minister of State) —Senator Carr well knows the great reputation that Australia enjoys internationally in relation to its higher education sector, and that is evidenced by people who want to come to this country and study here. I think it is unfortunate that Senator Carr beats up on the higher education sector in this way. This government is ensuring that the higher education sector delivers both to domestic students and to those students who come here. It is time that Senator Carr looked to the advantages and the positives rather than trying to create something which does not exist.