Australia tightens rules on colleges for foreigners

SYDNEY, February 23, 2010 (AFP) – Australian colleges catering to foreign students will face more rigorous regulation by year’s end as the government weeds out unscrupulous operators, the education minister said Tuesday. Under a bill passed Monday, all colleges and schools providing courses to international students will have to re-register with the government under strengthened criteria by December 31.

“This is intended to reinforce confidence in the quality of the Australian international education sector,” Julia Gillard said.

“While the vast majority of education providers are delivering quality education, unfortunately the sector has been tarnished by the activities of a few,” she said in a statement.

Under the new rules, colleges will have to prove that education is their principal purpose and that they are able to deliver courses of a high standard.

Colleges will also be more accountable for the actions of the agents they use to recruit students.

Education is Australia’s third-largest export earner — worth more than 12 billion US dollars annually — with tens of thousands of students streaming in each year from China and India.

But some of the colleges that have sprung up t