Unscrupulous operators 'recycling' overseas students in return for commissions

October 26, 2018

A practice called "student recycling" has emerged as one of the rorts used by unscrupulous education visa agents and registered training organisations in the troubled vocational education sector.

Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi has been calling for the government to clean up the visa system to stop these kind of rip-off rorts.

The Australian Financial Review reports, the International Education Association of Australia says education agents enrol overseas students in a university or an RTO. If the student struggles with their classes, the agents approach them again and offer to enrol them in a more suitable college.

What the student doesn't know is the agent gets a commission on the second enrolment, which can be as much as 40 per cent of the student fee.

Phil Honeywood, chief executive of the education association, said there were "scores" of dodgy providers and agents.

"Another rort is where a private provider is registered to offer both university-level qualifications as well as vocational training and it will poach a student from a university, saying it's registered to teach uni courses, but enrol them in a vocational program," he said.

Mr Honeywood said that, in a throwback to the debacle of VET-FEE Help in 2015 when millions of dollars of taxpayers' money was lost to unethical training companies, agents were working at railway stations and other public places to get business from dissatisfied students. This included offering iPads and other kickbacks to persuade them to switch.

"Ironically, Australia is viewed by competitor countries as having world's best practice. But what's happening is a failure of policy in regulation of the industry," he said.

The Australian Council for Private Education and Training says the regulator should make it mandatory for training organisations to report student attendance and student progress as a way to stop the rorts.

Senator Bernardi has told 2GB's Steve Price another problem with student visas is that they allow the overseas students to take jobs from Australians who want work.

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