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Senate inquiry must examine adequacy of International Education Legislation.

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Senate Inquiry Must Examine Adequacy Of International Education Legislation Kim Carr - Parliamentary Secretary for Education

Media Statement - 26 April 2000

Planned changes to the legislation governing Australia's international education industry must be reviewed by a Senate Inquiry, according to Labor Senator Kim Carr.

Senator Carr, Labor's Parliamentary Secretary for Education, has called for the Inquiry to look at major amendments to the Education Services Overseas Students (ESOS) Act, announced by the Minister, Dr Kemp.

The call follows today's announcement by the Victorian Government that it has deregistered a college offering courses to overseas students. The Melbourne Education Institute had its registration cancelled after an in-depth audit instigated by the Victorian Minister, Ms Lynne Kosky, found that it failed to comply with mandatory requirements in a range of areas.

"I am told that the College, which was located in King Street, in central Melbourne, offered an accredited course in Agriculture," Senator Carr said.

"Surely the previous Kennett Government, which accredited the College in 1998, should have been interested in how students were supposed to study farming in the CBD. We've all heard of Collins Street farmers. Now it seems we have King Street farmers as well."

Senator Carr said that the Melbourne Education Institute had been judged by the new State Government to lack facilities appropriate to the provision of training in a range of courses. It had also offered a Diploma in Biotechnology, along with courses in Business and Computing. "It will be interesting to know whether there was any evidence of genuinely accreditable training actually occurring at the Institute," he said.

"This case illustrates the shambles that exists in the international education industry under the Commonwealth's' current laissez faire regime. The new legislation will need to be considerably more rigorous and thoroughgoing, so that instances like this one cannot occur," said Senator Carr.

He added that he was concerned that this might not be an isolated case. "In the Senate I

have named many providers, about whom serious questions must be asked as to their educational bona fides and financial accountability," he said. "The pressure generated by the Opposition over the last two years has been the driving force in forcing the Commonwealth to act to protect this valuable industry and to ensure that students are not ripped off."

Senator Carr congratulated Victoria on its efforts to clean up its education export industry. "But actions and regulation at State level require the underpinning of robust Federal legislation and a clear resolve on the part of the Commonwealth to enforce the proposed new regime.

"That is why Labor will be calling for an Inquiry into the planned amendments to ESOS and the Migration Act," he said. "Australia's $4 billion international education industry needs careful attention and strong regulation if our reputation is not to be further damaged by the actions of a few unscrupulous villains."

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.