Desperate to control the misleading and fraudulent conduct of some education brokers in Australia

Real costs

Education brokers are not required to be registered unless they intend to provide immigration assistance. To provide immigration assistance, a person must register as a migration agent with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (Office of the MARA).

ASQA is concerned about the operations of these marketing companies, particularly given that many do not have formal relationships with the colleges they represent.

In a move to protect the reputation of Australia’s education industry the government is considering making education institutions responsible for the actions of their international brokers.

Jerry-Gomez, Migration Alliance, 28 January 2015,  http://bit.ly/1FEIdD4

Desperate to control the misleading and fraudulent conduct of some education brokers in Australia, the government is looking into measures to make educational institutions directly liable for the behaviour of their brokers.

Education brokers are not required to be registered unless they intend to provide immigration assistance. To provide immigration assistance, a person must register as a migration agent with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (Office of the MARA).

It is not always easy to separate the two. If you browse the websites of some education brokers, you will find some boasting of how quickly they have managed to obtain student visas for their clients. Yet nowhere on the site is there any indication that they are registered for providing migration advice.

The big issue is how exactly do the authorities weed out brokers dealing in fraudulent student visa applications or misleading and misguiding students about the streamlined visa program and thus potentially damaging the reputation of Australia’s $16 billion dollar education industry.

Regulating education brokers has been an issue the government has been grappling with for a while, according to a report in The Australian. Currently there is an ad hoc system whereby brokers have the option of undergoing voluntary training which some education institutions have put down as a requirement for brokers wanting to represent them. The overriding legislation governing broker conduct however is the very general Australian Consumer Law.

In a move to protect the reputation of Australia’s education industry the government is considering making education institutions responsible for the actions of their international brokers.

A spokeswoman for Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane told The Australian that proposed commonwealth standards, announced last year, would make colleges responsible for the behaviour of their agents. “The government is determined to stamp out misleading behaviour by brokers,” she said.

The Australian reported that the proposed standards make registered training organisations responsible for the behaviour of brokers subcontracted by them. If enacted, the standards will empower the Australian Skills Quality Authority to take action against colleges using brokers which breach the standards.

ASQA chief commissioner Chris Robinson told The Australian that domestic agents were currently subject to Australian consumer law, but not to the standards governing registered training organisations. He said ASQA was concerned about the operations of these marketing companies, particularly given that many did not have formal relationships with the colleges they represented.

The Australian states that it understands that Mr Macfarlane may be looking at further rule changes covering brokers which do not have formal contractual arrangements with colleges. Mr Macfarlane’s spokeswoman said the government was “looking at further measures to curb inappropriate behaviour by brokers”.

 

 

 

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