15 July 2011

Australian student visa holders to be protected by consumer watchdog

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) could begin policing the operations of training colleges who act as the education providers to international students on an Australian visa, in order to identify any unscrupulous institutions.

Australian immigration

The ACCC could begin policing the operations of education providers to Australian student visa holders.

The move to encourage the ACCC's involvement in regulating the private training industry comes as latest figures show that the international student sector has shrunk by 9.1 per cent in a year.

While the changes to Australian visa rules for students and the high Australian dollar have all contributed to the drop in demand from overseas students, Overseas Students Ombudsman Allan Asher says it is important that students get a fair deal from sponsoring colleges. He said:

"It's our expectation that any education providers who want to stay in business, who want to create a good reputation....are going to respond reasonably quickly.

"We know [that it is not everyone] and for those who do engage in misleading or deceptive conduct, or unfair conduct, we'll have tools to use there too."

Mr Asher also said he hoped to reach a formal relationship with the ACCC at some point this year.

"We're hoping to enlist them so that, if we do find instances of deliberately wrongful conduct on behalf of providers, there can be some swift intervention," he told the Council of International Students Australia's education conference on Tuesday.

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