The government of Australia has announced that it will no longer let international students enroll in two courses concurrently during the first six months of their course of study.
This change in rule is intended to crack down on 'dodgy' education providers that have been misusing the concurrent enrollment policy which previously allowed students to enroll on two courses and switch to the lower level course without changing visas.
While assuring that more reforms are to be announced within the coming days in order to uphold the integrity of the international education sector and protect students from exploitation, Australian Home affairs Minister Clare O'Neil declared, "The party is over, and the rorts and loopholes that have plagued this system will be shut down."
“International students are back, but so are the shonks seeking to exploit them and undermine our international education system. That’s why we are acting,” she added.
Private colleges will be banned from paying commissions to education agents who poach students from rival institutions and the 'fit and proper' provider test will also be tightened to ensure that the individual has the necessary qualifications, competence, skills, and experience, in order to prevent cross-ownership by providers and agents.
Concurrent course enrolment stopped
Ms. Catriona Jackson, Chief Executive of Universities Australia, the peak body representing the Australian higher education sector, stated, “The option for students to enroll concurrently in a course that is an approved part of a combined or double degree will still be available. Moreover, students who will have a convincing reason for enrolling concurrently may be able to get an exemption from the rules.”
The new rules do not impact international students who are already holding concurrent enrolments. However, the impact of the rule will be borne by new students who are looking to take admission in the second course concurrently. These students will have to wait for the first six months of their principal course of study and take approval from their education provider to take admission in two courses concurrently.
A spokesperson from Monash University says, “We welcome the measures taken by authorities and it’s a very positive step forward.”
He went on to say, "After all, the unethical poaching of students onshore was a serious concern. We welcome students from more than 140 countries putting in a lot of effort, time and resources to promote Australia and assist students with career counseling, enrollment and other issues. It’s important that students receive the full benefits of the world-class education they need and deserve.”
Commenting on the new commission rules, Ms. Jackson, added, "This initiative is particularly welcome; however, the ban on paying agents commissions is only intended to remove incentives for unscrupulous agents, and we're confident that the government will ensure quality tertiary education providers are not harmed."