A new system to strengthen protection for international students if an education provider closes is the centrepiece of a Bill introduced to federal Parliament this week.
The Education Services for Overseas Students Legislation Amendment (Tuition Protection Service and Other Measures) Bill 2011 and related Bills comprise the second phase of the Government’s response to the recommendations of the Baird Review of the Education Services for Overseas Students Act.
Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, said the Bill establishes a new Tuition Protection Service (TPS) as a single mechanism to place students when a provider closes, or as a last resort, to provide refunds of unexpended course fees.
“The new TPS will be a flexible service, with one contact point for students and greater accountability by providers,” Senator Evans said.
The changes will reform and strengthen the international education sector by providing more support for international students.
To support the TPS, the Bill introduces a series of complementary initiatives including:
- limiting the amount of pre-paid course fees that may be collected by providers;
- requiring some providers to keep initial pre-paid fees in a separate account until a student commences study;
- strengthening record-keeping obligations; and
- establishing a national registration system which will allow the registration of providers who operate across jurisdictions.
“This Bill aims to strengthen and protect the reputation of international education - one of Australia’s largest export industries, generating in the order of $18 billion annually and supporting around 125,000 jobs across Australia,” Senator Evans said.
Further information can be found at www.aei.gov.au