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Student immigration rorts: urgent action still required.



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Media Release

Senator Kim Carr

Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate

Labor’s Parliamentary Secretary for Education

 

9 September 1999

 

STUDENT IMMIGRATION RORTS: URGENT ACTION STILL REQUIRED

 

Australia’s priceless reputation for quality and integ rity as an international education provider is under serious threat, according to Labor’s Parliamentary Secretary for Education, Senator Kim Carr.

 

“Dr Kemp announced the Terms of Reference for a Departmental review into the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act three weeks ago, but since then, due to Opposition questioning in the Senate about the issue, he has been forced to make these Terms much broader.

 

“This is a tacit acknowledgment of the seriousness of the Opposition’s allegations of people smuggling, as well as the administrative failure of the Government to effectively protect Australia’s reputation as a quality educational provider for overseas students.

 

“The Minister has finally recognised the seriousness of the problems facing our overseas students resulting from the actions of a few unethical providers.

 

“The fact is, loopholes in Australia’s immigration laws, along with inadequate monitoring of private education providers on the part of Dr Kemp’s Department, mean that international student visas are used in a systematic manner as a backdoor, illegal means of entry to this country,” Senator Carr said.

 

“And while the Minister’s broadening of the inquiry is welcome, urgent action is required now. Yet he has failed to take urgent action to deal with the crisis,” Senator Carr said.

 

Senator Carr noted that it was within Dr Kemp’s power to take immediate action to strengthen the administration of the ESOS Act in terms of monitoring student attendance records, to ensure that those entering on student visas were actually undertaking courses. “Further, Dr Kemp can examine more closely and systematically the use by private providers of the mandatory trust accounts, which safeguard students’ prepaid fees against loss due to the collapse of colleges.”

 

He said that checks on the status of these accounts were currently sporadic and infrequent. “Of course, the massive cuts in staffing in DETYA, initiated by this government, may well render these tasks beyond the practical capacity of the Department at the moment.

 

“The Opposition has raised these issues in the Senate, yet we are still waiting for answers to these very serious problems.

 

“It is quality, quality, quality that is at risk here,” said Senator Carr. “And Australia’s three billion dollar export industry depends on our reputation for quality education.”

 

“Dr Kemp is to be condemned for his callous disregard for students and for quality. His relentless drive for a market-based education system has led to a neglect of educational values, rights and sheer economic good sense.

 

“The Minister must act now to protect what is left of Australia’s international reputation for integrity and standards in education and training. A Departmental review is only one step to solving the problems the Opposition has revealed in the present system,” he concluded.

 

 

For further information contact:

Senator Kim Carr; 0419 563 922

 

 

md 1999-09-10  09:34