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Education Services (Export Regulation) Bill 1990



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House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Employment, Education and Training

Purpose

To establish a register of those approved to provide education services to overseas students and require those providing courses to comply with a number of conditions, including that they maintain trust accounts for funds received from overseas students and take out certain insurance. Also refer to the Remarks Section.

Background

Refer to the Digest for the Overseas Students (Refunds) Bill 1990.

Main Provisions

Clause 3 contains a number of definitions. Essential to the scheme are various categories of `providers', as a number of obligations are extended to the general category of `provider'.

`Approved provider' is defined to be an institution, other body, or person to whom the designated authority of a State has given approval to provide a course.

`Course' is defined to be a course of education or training.

`Provider' is defined to be an institution or a body or person in Australia that provides courses.

`Registered provider' is defined to be an institution, other body, or person that is registered as a provider of a course in a State.

It will be an offence for an institution, other body or person to provide:

*a course to overseas students; or

*make an offer to an intending student to provide a course; or

*invite an intending student to undertake, or apply to undertake a course; or

*hold itself out as able or willing to provide a course to overseas students;

unless they are a registered provider. The maximum penalty for a breach of this provision will be a fine of $10 000 (clause 4).

Clause 5 provides for the establishment of a register to be known as the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students. The register is to contain:

*the name of each provider that is an approved provider of one or more courses; and

*where the provider is a corporation, the name of the principal executive officer; and

*particulars of each course; and

*any prescribed matters. The above requirements will not apply to a provider who has had their registration cancelled unless the Minister is satisfied that it is appropriate to do so.

A provider, whether they are approved, registered or not, will be required to open and maintain a trust account and pay into that account any amount, other than a non-refundable amount, received from an overseas student or intending overseas student. Providers will be required to keep records on amounts paid into an account in respect of each overseas student; any payments out of that account; and the amount remaining in the account from time to time. Failure to comply with these requirements will constitute an offence. The maximum penalty which may be imposed for a breach of this provision will be a fine of $5000 (clause 6). (note: The effect of this provision will be to require all providers (as defined above) to open such accounts whether they intend to provide courses for overseas students or not.)

It will an offence for a provider to make a payment out of an account unless it is done with the written authority of the overseas student, or is for paying an amount to Medibank Private or another prescribed hospital benefits organisation, or for meeting the cost to the provider of providing the course. The maximum penalty for a breech of this provision will be a fine of $5000 (clause 6).

It will be an offence for a provider to not refund to an overseas student an amount, less any amount the provider is entitled to pay to another person, held in an account where the overseas student does not commence a course, or withdraws from a course before the end of the course. The maximum penalty for a breach of this provision will be a fine of $5000 (clause 6).

It will be an offence for a provider to not take out insurance to ensure that no overseas student suffers a loss if the provider is unable to provide a refund of amounts held in an overseas students account. The maximum penalty for a breach of this provision will be a fine of $3000 (clause 7). (note: Again this will apply to a provider (as defined above) even if no overseas students are enrolled or intending to be enrolled).

Clause 9 provides that the Minister may, if of the opinion that a registered provider has not complied with a requirement of clauses 6, 7 or 8 (basically, clause 8 requires quarterly lodgement of returns on the operation of accounts), suspend the registration of the provider. The Minister may at any time remove a suspension.

Where the Minister believes that a registered provider has engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct in connection with the recruitment of intending overseas students, or a provider whose registration has been suspended in a State is not providing courses to overseas student, cancel the providers registration (clause 11).

Clause 13 provides for review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of decisions of the Minister cancelling or suspending a providers registration.

Remarks

The Bill extends the liability for insurance and the opening of bank accounts for overseas students to all `providers'. The definition of this term, and the associated term `courses' (see above) will effectively extend these obligations to all who provide training or education courses in Australia, whether they intend or attempt to recruit overseas students or not. The requirements extend beyond `registered providers', who are the only ones which may provide courses for overseas students. The end result will be that anyone who provides an education or training course (which covers a large range of individuals) will be required to comply with these matters or face prosecution and potential fines.

Bills Digest Service 15 November 1990

Parliamentary Research Service

For further information, if required, contact the Education and Welfare Group on 06 2772416.

This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

Commonwealth of Australia 1990

Except to the extent of the uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without the prior written consent of the Parliamentary Library, other than by Members of the Australian Parliament in the course of their official duties.

Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1990.