Education agent body to tackle fraud in Aus
Formal registration is one of the areas being explored by a newly formed education agent representative body in Australia, in a bid to reduce and prevent fraudulent behaviour within the sector.
Launched at September’s Sympled conference in Brisbane, the International Student Education Agents Association aims to provide counsellors with a “seat at the table” during policy decision-making.
“Anyone can open an education agency without any criterion”
“We’ve reached the stage in maturity in the international education space that agents should have a voice around the issues that are facing us at the moment,” said Sympled organiser Robert Parsonson.
“The group wants to work with government, industries and the peak [sector] bodies to work out if and where there are issues with education agents, there’s a proper complaint mechanism set up.”
Among some of the ideas being floated to combat agent fraud, the organisation is considering the feasibility of registering education agents, according to Regina da Silva, ISEAA founding member and director of agency ABC Australia.
“Anyone can open an education agency without any criterion,” she said.
“You can work from your home using your mobile, and there is no way to find out who is good and who is bad.”
By requiring agents to register and linking their information to a student in the Provider Registration and International Student Management System, da Silva said those who commit fraud or undertake other illegal activities would not be able to hide their past by setting up a new agency.
Speaking with The PIE News, da Silva said ISEAA had already made a submission to a joint standing committee into migration and the efficacy of migration agents, which also began looking into the number of education agents providing migration advice.
Within Australia, only those listed with the Migration Agents Registration Authority can provide more than clerical assistance.
Last year a proposal to publish education agent performance information met criticism from several representative groups.