Citing failure to provide necessary assessment, the provider, which operates as ACPE Academy, Martin College, Australian Institute of Applied Sciences, Embassy English, Taylors College, ANU College, Flinders International Study Centre, and Taylors Unilink, has been forced to cancel its VET qualifications and statements of attainment.
Study Group has described the decision as “wrong”, adding that “we believe we satisfied the government’s regulations”.
“This scrutiny identified that the training provider was non-compliant with the requirements of the VET Quality Framework”
The decision comes after ongoing scrutiny of the provider’s regulatory compliance, which found low qualification rate completion, poor enrollment processes, misleading marketing and recruitment practices and poor staff training and resources.
“This scrutiny identified that the training provider was non-compliant with the requirements of the VET Quality Framework, which all registered training organisations are required to satisfy as a condition of registration,” ASQA chief commissioner Mark Paterson said in a statement.
“Study Group Australia was issued with a notice of intention to cancel its registration in September 2017. Study Group Australia’s response to the notice was considered by ASQA’s Commissioners however it did not address adequately the non-compliances identified.”
Speaking exclusively with The PIE News, Study Group chief executive David Leigh said it should be noted the ruling applies only to Study Group’s Australia VET provision, not the other parts of the large global organisation.
“This news only relates to the vocational education organisation within Australia… this has nothing to do with international education. It only relates to domestic vocational education,” he said.
Leigh said after extensive changes to Australian VET regulations, Study Group decided to discontinue this part of their business and allow their VET registration to expire at the end of the year. Since 2017, no new students have been enrolled, though 1,700 existing students are being taught.
“We didn’t want to participate… in the provision of those courses on an ongoing basis, [and we are] absolutely committed to teaching out the students on our books.”
He clarified that the ASQA ruling – if an appeal is not upheld – does allow the government “to step in and seek another way for these students to be taught – despite the fact that more than half of them are learning a course with us which isn’t operated by any other provider”.
Asked about the allegations of “insufficient resources” and “failure to provide an appropriate amount of training to learners”, which the group were made aware of in September 2017 and relates to ongoing teaching, Leigh said that Study Group “believe we satisfied the government’s regulations in September 2017”.
The cancellation of Study Group’s VET registration will take effect from 19 February, although the provider intends to appeal the decision.
ASQA’s decision comes just a week after Study Group told The PIE News of deals with two major US universities, which will expand the company’s operations in North America, and is a serious blow for the company, which last year reportedly went up for sale, as well as Australia’s VET sector, which was targeted last year in legislative changes to shut out “rorters and shonks”.
“Australia’s regulatory protections for international students are regarded worldwide as being strong and robust. If there is evidence to indicate an education provider is breaching those protections, ACPET supports swift rectification,” ACPET chief executive Rod Cam said at the time.
Additional reporting by Patrick Atack