AS the Victorian Government continues to crack down on low quality training and education providers, students are being left without a place to study. Jennifer Zhao speaks to an international student who has been affected by the sudden closure of her school.
In just a few months time, Mia Chen* will be finishing her Year 12 studies.
An international student from China, Mia has studied diligently in preparation for her end of year VCE exams but all the time spent studying could not have prepared her for what would come next.
Mia’s school, the Melbourne Senior Secondary College (MSSC), was ordered to shut down.
The Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA), the state’s education authority, discovered the school was in breach of a series of non-compliances resulting in the delivery of unsatisfactory quality in education towards its international students.
Amid a string of scandals involving the welfare of international students, the closure of MSSC was the latest in the Victorian Government’s crackdown on rorting colleges.
Since the start of the government’s quality blitz in July, three low-quality training providers have had funding contracts terminated, four providers have been given notice of an intention to revoke their funding contracts and two providers have lost funding to deliver specific qualifications.
Mia’s school was one of the hardest hit in the targeted enforcement, leaving 59 international students and 24 domestic students without a place to study.
“I panicked so bad when I heard the news,” Mia said in a WeChat interview.
“This is an especially critical time in my high school years and I don’t want [the closure of MSSC] to affect my studies and the chance to go to a good university.”
Having already paid $18,600 in tuition fees for her year 12 course at MSSC, it seems only fair for Mia to worry about her chances of continuing to study in Australia at a tertiary level.
“I hope Melbourne and Australia can put in more effort to ensure I really get the education my parents paid so much money for,” Mia said.
Currently, $6 million of government subsidies have already been recovered and will be re-invested to ensure an improvement in education quality is met.
Asked why she attended MSSC, Mia reveals her parents had “picked this school for [her] because they [were told by education agents that she could] pass easily”.
“I know many of my classmates [were there] for the same reason,” Mia said.
However, Mia now realises that perhaps the closure of her former private school was a blessing in disguise.
“[Now] I will go find another school where I will be properly taught by much better and more responsible teachers,” she said.
Fortunately for the many international students who have suffered from the closure of their schools, VRQA and its director Lynn Glover are working on placing affected students “with suitable alternative education providers in order to continue their studies” and have established support services for students and their families.
These days, Mia studies in a community library with a group of students who have also been affected by the closure of their schools.
She longs to return to a formal education setting where English teachers can help to improve Mia’s essay writing.
“I think I am all right with subjects like Math and Physics [but] it is English that I am most worried about as I have only been in Melbourne for less than a year, and my English is still quite weak,” Mia said.
All terminated training providers have been published on the Department of Education and Training’s website.
*Mia’s name has been changed in this article to protect her privacy.