On 4 November 2022, Australia’s two main tertiary education regulators – the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA), and the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) – each issued a “sector alert” reminding all higher education providers of their obligations when using education agents.

Why two alerts from two regulators? TEQSA is Australia’s national quality assurance and regulatory agency for higher education, while ASQA is the national regulator for Australia’s vocational education and training sector.

The TEQSA alert noted that it was issued following “recent media reports outlining the alleged misuse of student visas, including education agents working to secure visas for non-genuine students.” This is a reference to a recent series of media stories on the trafficking of international students into the sex industry in Australia, in which several education agents are named.

The preamble to the ASQA alert notes:

ASQA has identified international student delivery as one of the Regulatory Risk Priorities for 2022-23 and is working in partnership across government to detect and deter non-genuine providers and safeguard the integrity of the international VET market.

ASQA remains alert to collusion, opportunistic or misleading behaviour by providers and their agents.

Both alerts remind institutions of the requirements of Australia’s Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 and associated legislative framework (the ESOS framework) relating to the use of education agents. Under Standard 4 of the National Code, educational institutions are responsible for ensuring that their education agents act ethically, honestly and in the best interest of overseas students and uphold the reputation of Australia’s international education sector.

The alert reminds educational institutions of their main obligations when working with education agents, including:

  • the requirement to have a written agreement with each education agent
  • not accepting students where the institution suspects the education agent of engaging in dishonest recruitment practices
  • the requirement to take immediate corrective action where it believes or becomes aware of an education agent that has not complied with its responsibilities under relevant ESOS and migration legislation
  • publishing on their website a list of the education agents that they have contracts with, and ensuring that the list is correct and up to date
  • robust oversight of contracted education agents, including monitoring performance, ensuring students referred by agents are genuine and engaged in learning, and taking prompt corrective action in the event or likelihood of misrepresentation or unethical conduct.

Read the full alert on the TEQSA website. Read the full alert on the ASQA website.Regulators

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Source: TEQSA