A few months ago, in February, the Australian Skills Quality and Authority (ASQA)–the regulatory body for the vocational education and training sector–had revoked the vocational education and training accreditation of the Australia Institute of Business and Technology (AIBT), where around 90 percent of the 1,000 nursing students enrolled were Nepalis. The regulating agency’s assessment showed that the institute had failed to demonstrate its marketing practices as accurate and factual. The case of the Australian Institute of Business and Technology is but one in many. It has been reported that many private colleges in Australia are enrolling students without ensuring proper accreditation. And now in a similar incident, the AIBT-International–the international wing of AIBT–has faced deregistration. Currently, around 1200 Nepalis are enrolled in this institution.
With no monitoring agency for overseas educational consultants and an increase in the number of students seeking a foreign degree, it seems there are many fraudulent institutions and agencies that take people for a ride. The institutions themselves are to blame for false advertising. And so are the education consultancies that hold the interests of their partner institutions over that of their clients–the students. But at the same time, the students need to be equally careful, too.
Every year, many students apply abroad seeking better education and employment opportunities, and Australia is among the most preferred destinations. In fact, Nepal is currently the third largest contributor of international students to Australia. But after the Australian Skills Quality and Authority (ASQA) had revoked the vocational education and training accreditation of the Australia Institute of Business and Technology, The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology had formed an investigation committee led by a joint-secretary to investigate how the students were sent for a nursing course in an institute that didn’t have validation from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council. Later, a preliminary investigation by the probe team showed around 150 Nepali consultancies were listed as ‘agents’ of the institute and were involved in sending students to Australia.
As long as consultancies are ‘agents’ of any institution, they will be guided by their vested interests. Meaning, generating profit will take precedence over wanting to provide quality education to the applicants. Numerous consultancies offer admission to students in an entire gamut of professional institutions abroad against hefty fees. There is no government regulation to check these businesses. At the same time, the students, on their part, must conduct proper research on the universities and the institutions they are applying to. Many times, students themselves are found to be compromising on the quality of education to get an education at a cheaper cost. For some, the agenda may not even be education, but an avenue for access to foreign lands. But whatever be their motive, the applicants must be careful and take decisions only after they gather substantial information about the places they are applying to. But regardles, as students and parents continue to be duped, the government must step in and bring about strong regulations that can rein in such consultancies.