KATHMANDU, Feb 28: The Education Consultancies Association of Nepal (ECAN), umbrella organization of education consultancies has said that the government would need to come forward to help students if the appeal of the Australia Institute of Business and Technology (AIBT) was cancelled.
ECAN said this at a function organized to brief the media on the latest situation of AIBT on Wednesday. Issuing a press statement, ECAN said that if AIBT’s stay appeal was cancelled, the Nepal government would have to request the Australian government to resolve the problem.
“If the problem isn’t resolved, then Nepal government must request the Australian government to help the affected students to be transferred to accredited colleges. Nepal government must also speak with the Australian government to ensure the course’s credit transfer as soon as possible,” a press statement issued by ECAn reads.
However, some participants said the ECAN’s ‘non-committal response’ at the function showed that it was resorting to the government’s help at the first sight of the problem – an allegation Bishnu Hari Pandey and Yubaraj Katwal, chairpersons of ECAN and FECON refute.
“We are not running away from our responsibilities,” Pandey, chairperson of ECAN said. “We are making persistent efforts to make sure that the students receive assessment of their course credit so that they are able to pursue their course in other universities.”
“However, the government must resolve existing loopholes on all fronts,” he added.
Baikuntha Aryal, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said that while the government would take necessary steps, “the education consultancies cannot, at all¸evade their moral and professional responsibility in this situation.”
He maintained that they must shoulder moral responsibilities.
ECAN is yet to state how many students have been affected – largely because ‘many students had changed their courses, transferred to other universities.’ “We will be able to tell the numbers only after some study,” said ECAN.
However, Fiona Kee, company director of AIBT said that “AIBT had over 2,000 students and approximately 50 percent were from Nepal.”
According to the press statement, many of the students pursing the Diploma of Nursing had low scores in the English proficiency test, IELTS. It states, “After ANMAC [Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council] issued the Enrolled Nurse Accreditation Standard 2017, students who were pursing their Diploma of Nursing before July 1, 2018 were required to score 7 on each IELTS band (listening, speaking, reading and writing), while those opting for the course after July 1 were required to get the mentioned score before admission.”
“However, many students studying at AIBT have low scores and haven’t been able to meet the English language requirement to get enrolled in ANMAC accredited universities – hence, the problem.”
Chairperson of FECON Katwal said that the students were aware – right from the start. “We had ANMAC accreditation and AIBT had stated the same in its offer letters. The students accepted it willingly.”
AIBT will take responsibility
In an email interview, Kee said the training institute would take responsibility to transfer its current students to other providers as per conditions mandated by Australia’s Tuition Protection Scheme (TPS).
“However, students will only be entitled to the privilege if they continue to stay enrolled and continue to meet their obligations with AIBT until such time the stay decision cannot be granted,” Kee said.
On February 22, The Embassy of Australia in Nepal had advised students studying at AIBT to remain enrolled until AIBT stops operating.
“Until the review is determined, the institute is permitted to continue operating, including conducting classes,” said the embassy.