“Slavery” may be a bit strong, but bad nonetheless…

15 Jul

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald exposes what would appear to be a racket in the overseas student business. Make sure you read the associated stories.

THOUSANDS of overseas students are being made to work free – or even to pay to work – by businesses exploiting loopholes in immigration and education laws in what experts describe as a system of economic slavery.

The vast pool of unpaid labour was created in 2005 when vocational students were required to do 900 hours’ work experience. There was no requirement that they be paid.

Overseas students remained bound to the system as completion of such courses became a near-guaranteed pathway to permanent residency.

Since then the number of foreign students enrolled in the vocational training sector has leapt from 65,120 to 173,432 last year – about half of all our overseas students.

The changes have created a $15 billion industry – comparable countries do not offer residency – but experts, teachers and students say many of the private college courses are little more than visa mills. Since 2001 the number of private colleges has leapt from 664 to 4892

That last figure should make one suspicious. How many of these “schools” would pass muster?

A disclaimer: my little bit of tutoring is organised by a migration agency, but it has been in business for twenty years and deals only with universities, TAFE, established state and non-government schools, and the better English colleges. I can vouch for the integrity of the business having known the principals for some time and would add that they also go to some lengths in ensuring the well-being of their clients. But there is no doubt there are some very shonky outfits in operation, some with suspicious links – such as husband to wife – to the “colleges” students are recruited to.

Of course this is a background issue in some of the cases regarding Indian students we have been hearing about lately.

The unfortunate effects on the industry in this case were enabled by the Howard government.


One response to ““Slavery” may be a bit strong, but bad nonetheless…

  1. Benjamin Solah

    July 15, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    That is real economic exploitation. Far out, I was shocked when I read that it was that bad. The government is also partly to blame for this through imposing a 20 hour a week restriction on working. In Melbourne, it’s often that international students work cash in hand to avoid the restriction in order to pay for their huge fees and overpriced rent.


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