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Australia: Milton College, Sydney in liquidation

One hundred international students are being placed into new institutions after Milton College in Sydney, Australia shut its doors last week due to financial difficulties. As a consequence, it is no longer able to continue to teach currently enrolled students.

"What is important is that Australia has structures and systems in place to ensure that students are looked after promptly"

The Tuition Protection Service is in the process of placing the student visa holders onto other courses, while ELICOS peak group, English Australia is placing non-visa holders.

According to the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000, a defaulting provider is required to either place students in an alternative course, or refund any unspent pre-paid tuition fees to students.

“What is important is that Australia has structures and systems in place to ensure that students are looked after…when such unfortunate events take place”

In a statement on its website the government said: “The Liquidator has confirmed that the college has no funds to meet its obligation. Hence TPS Director has already made a determination that TPS will now assist the affected international students with placement in alternative course or refund of their unspent tuition fees.”

Most of the affected students were undertaking high school preparation courses.

TPS commenced on 1 July of this year amid fears that the costs of its implementation would harm the ELICOS sector. Industry insiders say that small independent operations like Milton are specifically in danger as they struggle to pay TPS fees while coping with stagnant enrolment numbers.

Despite doubts over TPS, Sue Blundell, head of English Australia, says school closures aren’t uncommon. “Business failures occur in all industries and college closures occur in all study destinations,” she told The PIE News.

“What is important is that Australia has structures and systems in place to ensure that students are looked after promptly with minimal disruption to their studies when such unfortunate events take place.”

From the beginning of 2008 to March 2011 there were 54 provider closures across all Australian education sectors, but mostly in the vocational sector, affecting more than 13,000 students.

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