Regional university accused of immigration racket
Higher Education Reporter
Sydney Morning Herald
March 21, 2007
A PUBLICLY funded university in regional Queensland – with 5000 mainly international students at its two Sydney campuses – has been accused of being a front for an elaborate immigration racket.
Central Queensland University, which is based in Rockhampton, specialises in information technology and accounting courses, which earn students the most points towards gaining permanent residency in Australia.
The university's Sydney campus alone has registered a blow-out in the number of students caught cheating, while staff and other students complain that English language standards tolerated by the university authorities are below the level needed to complete even basic courses.
The number of plagiarism incidents in the past five years at CQU's Sydney campus is more than double that of the University of Sydney, which has more than six times the number of students on campus, according to figures obtained under Freedom of Information laws.
CQU apprehended more than 2000 students for plagiarism between 2001 and 2006, but only one of them was expelled. Most were failed and suspended.
Although the university has 24,000 students, at least half of those are at campuses in central Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and New Zealand.
The university reports the failure rate among international students is about double that of local students.
Students on the university's Sydney campus are preparing a draft list of demands for the university in protest against what they claim have been unfair marking procedures.
The university has also been accused of failing to report international students for breaching their visa conditions until they have collected two semesters' worth of fees.
Universities are required by law to report students to the Department of Immigration if they have not attended at least 80 per cent of classes or failed to achieve satisfactory academic process.
But according to one student who did not want to be named, the university told him he was not allowed to quit the university until he had studied there for at least 12 months, despite him failing every one of his accounting subjects.
A migration lawyer, Michael Jones, said Central Queensland University allowed students to keep failing their courses until they had been attending the university for a year – after which time they are permitted to change institutions – and only then reported them to the immigration department.
However Angela Delves, the acting vice-chancellor of the university, said she was unaware of the university failing to report students for breaching their visas.
“If students were coming to CQU with the sole purpose of permanent residency rather than an education, that was their choice. As far as any softening of standards, I can assure you not.”
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