I am actively involved with the troubles of some of the Indian students in Sydney. Many other Indian Australians are also doing what they can do. I have had lots of interactions with ex-students of a Flying school. Their stories are heart-moving. They came to Australia to train as pilots and then return to India to take up jobs with the airlines there. Some had jobs lined up with King Fisher airlines. Everything was going well until sometime later when they had some serious troubles in their training. The complaints were made to the relevant authorities but not much seems to be happening. Some of them have paid full tuition fees but have not received the required training. It was hoped that their problems would be resolved with the intervention of DEEWR/VETAB but that has remained a “hope” only.
We also know the stresses and troubles of the students of Sterling college, Sydney and some other schools in Melbourne and Sydney. They are dealing with Australian Council of Private Education and Training [ACPET] and DEEWR but the progress has been slow so far.
Some students suffer exploitation at the hands of the owners of the schools and the employers, some of whom have been known to pay below-award wages, mostly as cash and sometime, not paying anything at all. The worst of all these is the fact that some employers are of Indian background.
Indian students, no doubt, have many genuine problems and exploitation is the name of the game in regards to students.
If we, the long term resident Indians have the same issues, we would be able to fight against these matters by approaching the relevant bodies/institutions or taking the legal recourse.
The same avenues for the redressing of the problems are open to Indian students but they will remain options only on paper.
Many Indian students do not have access to the money which would be needed to mount a legal challenge in a court as the legal fees are very high in Australia. Also, the opposite parties will invariably have more money or “Financial might” which can be misused against the students. I have seen the clear examples of the misuse of financial might in some cases recently.
One student from India had a situation of this nature. The school owner did misuse the financial might but we could not do much.
Students have several problems and will continue to have problems. Providers and consumers will continue to have problems and conflicts re services, training, fees and exploitation.
International education generate $15.5 Billion for Australia. Indian students do so in the tune of $2.75-3 Billion. International education is the third largest source of earning for Australia.
Australia should look after the “Hen which gives the golden eggs” by doing everything which will encourage the students to keep coming to Australia and have a generally happy experience which is free of exploitation.
We have thought about these issues seriously. We can not find any other option except the establishment of the “International Students’ Ombudsman”.
It is about time that the managers of International Education Australia [IEA] put their thinking caps on and start the process of setting up the “International Students’ Ombudsman”.
Dr Yadu Singh