Ghost schools and no teachers, the vocational education and training rort

October 22, 2018

The Vocational Education and Training sector is home to ghost schools where barely any study is done as international students game the visa system in order to earn income rather than get educated.

Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi has been pointing to rorts in our visa system for years and he says urgent reform of our visa system is needed. Last month he told Sky News "Students come here using our systems and visa processes as a back door to get permanent residency but that's an area that needs to be addressed due to the sheer volume of people." (video below)

The rort has been confirmed to The Australian Financial Review by registered training organisations, migration agents and the regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), which is powerless to act against unethical education agents in overseas countries.

The director and co-founder of Academia International, a registered training organisation, Mel Koumides said the behaviour of some RTOs in collaboration with offshore education agents has created a loophole in the education and migration system.

People wanting to come to Australia primarily to work use an agent in their own country to enrol with certain providers in Australia. Once here they attend a minimum of classes but take up as much casual work as they can.

Under a rule change in 2007, VET providers do not have to report attendance. As long as the student achieves a minium of 51 per cent in at least one class every year, they can extend their stay in Australia as long as the college keeps renewing their enrolment.

"Gradually we have seen the emergence of ghost schools which students attend sparingly at best. They no longer have staff."

Some providers brazenly advertise on the internet that they offer classes only at night or on just one day a week, meaning students can work regular hours and do just enough study to keep their visas active.

Education visas allow students to work 20 hours a week, but critics say they are hard to police, especially if a person is doing several casual jobs.

Senator Bernardi has told Paul Murray Live on Sky News the system has to change.

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