Way back in 2006 at a major presentation at the Town Hall in Melbourne and followed up in print in 2008… These are in public space but alerts have been conveyed through several other submissions.
Sushi Das in The Age (2010-01-23 ADVISE ON INDIAN STUDENTS IGNORED) makes a hugely interesting and shocking revelation that Universities Australia, which represents 39 universities, alerted both federal and state governments to problems relating to student safety, poor-quality colleges, lack of concessions on public transport and immigration matters over two years ago.
UA is a major stakeholder and its advise is understood to be taken seriously by the Australian Government and hence I am further intrigued that both the Federal and the State Governments were unable to find evidence that Universities Australia had alerted them to such problems two years ago.
If one has not read this article and the claims made by Universities Australia then before you read any further, please do go through the link. If the UA did indeed warn (and not just mentioning in passing without much stress), then it is matter of concern that the peak body was not taken seriously.
However, irrespective of whether UA warned the Australian Government or not, the Australian Government was indeed alerted years ago that the policies being practised will one day damage the University Education Sector. This alert was sounded out by AAERI (www.aaeri.org) and the communications are available and cannot be denied by the Government. AAERI is the self-regulatory education agent body promoted by the Australian Government (though autonomous) and in its acknowledged submissions it has alerted the Australian Government on several of the issues. I cannot list all the submissions made to the Government or its various interactions with senior officials of DIAC or AEI including the meetings with current and the former Ministers of the two departments going back to the meeting held with Minister Amanda Vanstone in New Delhi since this is not an official blog of AAERI but can confidently confirm the above since I presided the period 2006-March 2009 as President of AAERI and have been an active executive member prior and post this period.
I will focus on two presentations made by me (as MD of one of the oldest and highly respected education consultancies and also as the then President of AAERI), which are available in Public space.
First Alert sounded in 2006 in Melbourne:
In 2006 during the Commonwealth Games, I was invited by the City of Melbourne to make a presentation on the challenges before the Education Industry. This presentation was at the Town Hall and in the audience were several leading lights of the industry and also representatives from the Government departments. The other presenters apart from me were the Vice Chairperson of UGC who had travelled across from India, The Deputy Vice Chancellor of Monash University (Prof Larkins) and Mr Peter Campbell of MIBT (rep from the ACPET). The event was coordinated by Ms Nashid Chowdhury for the City of Melbourne and though with another department now, should be able to confirm my claims above. The presentation should be in the record too.
I copy a few slides below from 2006 presentation. The alert is clearly there:
The slides above formed the basis of the presentation where I argued against the then current policies that gave edge of residency motive over the education quality and slide 4 indicating the need for compliance even with existing laws such as ESOS. The compliance being a weak area.
Second Alert in 2008 through the AAERI Newsletter and then in the Australian Indian Business Council Annual Publication:
Writing as President of AAERI in the AAERI newsletter, my article in the October 2008 listed the loophole through with the Assessment Level system was being exploited and how Australia’s visa and immigration policies were not favourable for the “quality” Indian students studying at “quality” providers. This article when printed in the AIBC publication with some minor editing by the editors of the journal makes the same point in full detail. The article needs attention even right now, as any policy that is made in future should bear the issue in mind. I am inviting all readers and decision takers to go through the three pages of the article on the link.
As stated above, I only making the point with some evidence that Australia was alerted in advance. AAERI should be able to decide if it wants to remind the Australian Government that all its submissions over the years including the submissions made in person to various Departments and also to the former Australian High Commissioner in New Delhi has merit and AAERI, as a stake holder should be consulted on major policy decisions related to India and students at all times. Actually it has been making submissions and so has been Universities Australia. However, like Universities Australia, I would feel that AAERI’s advice has also been ignored. All to Australia’s disadvantage.