Australian secondary school 'unacceptable risk' to students

18 August, 2015

A private high school in Australia has been forced to close after breaching regulations governing overseas students.

The now defunct website of Melbourne Senior Secondary College (MSSC), Australia

Melbourne Senior Secondary College (MSSC), formerly known as New Generation College, was registered as a school, senior secondary education provider and provider of courses to overseas students with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA). However, a comprehensive review of the school in February revealed a number of non-compliance issues, including unsatisfactory attendance records, ineffective financial management and inadequate ‘working with children checks’.

“The continued operation of the school poses an unacceptable risk to student welfare,” said a report by the VRQA. The college’s registration was cancelled effective July 10 rendering it unable to provide Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) courses to any student, whether domestic or international.

A meeting for displaced students was held on July 15 with the VRQA, the Tuition Protection Service (TPS) and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection all in attendance, each providing information and assistance about students’ rights and transfer options.

There were “serious concerns about the academic standards and quality of education” at the school, said the VRQA. There were also suggestions that teaching staff were being pressured to pass weak performing students.

The college charged high international student tuition rates of AUS$18,600 (US$13,656) a year. Fees for domestic students were equally exorbitant at AUS$6,900 (US$5,066) per year. Approximately 70 students were affected by the closure, a majority of whom were from overseas.

Phil Honeywood, ‎Chief Executive Officer at International Education Association of Australia (IEAA), an association of international education professionals in Australia, noted it was unusual to have a stand-alone private high school solely catering for overseas students. “Unfortunately from time to time there will be a college that lets the side down and really does damage to the quality and reputation of Australia and also to the welfare of the young people whose families have contributed major expenditures to come to Australia.”

Principal of MSSC, Jian Wang, has refuted the claims, observing that in the 11 years the school has been in operation, it has contributed over AUS$18 million (US$13) to the local economy, with 500 students passing VCE exams.

The college is said to be appealing against VRQA’s decision.

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) recently suspended the registrations of St Stephen Institute of Education and Symbiosis Institute of Technical Education, also based in the state of Victoria, with the colleges’ owners implicated in an alleged student visa scam.

Nicola Hancox



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