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Australia to back foreign students if college shuts

india Updated: Jul 31, 2009 13:03 IST

IANS
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Following the closure of a Sydney college where many Indians were studying, the Australian government has assured foreign students that they will be granted "a comparable place to complete their course" or a refund in fees.

Financial troubles forced the Sterling College here to suddenly close down, jeopardising the futures of more than 500 people, including many Indians. Their courses have stopped and they face the loss of thousands of dollars in fees.

It is the third major private vocational college in the country to close down in the last 18 months.

Australian Education Minister Julia Gillard said Friday that foreign students in colleges that close down will be compensated.

"...the Australian government stands behind the scheme and our guarantee is clear, if an international student is enrolled in a college that closes for whatever reason, we will find them a comparable place to complete their course or we will refund their fees."

No one was willing to underwrite the fund set up by the government to cover the transfer of students if their chosen college closes, a media report said.

Gillard said the scheme was formerly insured by AIG that has been hit by the global financial crisis.

"Since that time, it's true we haven't been able to find a new insurer for the scheme. These are obviously difficult days for insurance and financing arrangements because of the financial crisis," Gillard was quoted as saying by The Australian.

An education and migration scam has also been revealed by an ABC report. The Indian reporter who was working undercover for the Four Corners programme was assaulted over the weekend here.

Indian students in Australia have faced a string of attacks since May 9. There are about 90,000 Indians studying in Australia.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith Tuesday said the government "won't tolerate" any education and migration scam affecting foreign students.

Speaking on ABC's Australia Network, Smith said: "Of course it's very concerning... On the migration front, when we were in opposition we did express significant concerns about the regulation of migration agents, and as a consequence of that we've recently seen a migration regulatory authority come into existence to regulate that industry better."