Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Attack over flying school

Attack over flying school
From the Australian
THE Indian consul general in Sydney has slammed Australian education authorities for their slow response to complaints from Indian students against a flying school caught out using under-qualified instructors.

The education watchdog has threatened to deregister Aerospace Aviation at Bankstown in southwest Sydney after finding a "critical" breach of standards regulating the teaching of overseas students.

Consul general Gautam Roy said yesterday the tardy response of state and federal education departments had caused several students to return to India and others to be lumped with debt from a failed legal action against the school.

Five Indian students, who complained the school did not provide adequate resources for them to complete their courses on time, have been forced home to start paying off loans for their unfinished courses.

More than 20 Indian students from the school reported their complaints to the federal Education Department in a face-to-face meeting on October 17. The complaints were referred to the Vocational Education and Training Accreditation Board, which took until May to audit the school.

The audit found Aerospace Aviation instructors did not have qualifications required by the Australian Quality Training Framework.

The students also contacted the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the NSW Office of Fair Trading.

After getting little joy from the authorities, nine of the students attempted to recover pre-paid school fees from Aerospace by issuing the school with a statutory demand in March.

NSW Supreme Court judge Richard White threw the claim out of court last week, saying the avenue taken by the students to seek the refunds was not the correct one, as statutory demands were for the recovery of established debts, not "disputed demands". The students will have to pay the legal costs for Aerospace Aviation.

"I am sure they would not have gone to court if they had got some kind of reassurance from the authorities who are supposed to look into the affairs of the education providers," Mr Roy said yesterday.

The NSW Department of Education and Training yesterday said VETAB had waited for the outcome of an investigation into the complaints by the federal Education Department before undertaking the May audit.

Aerospace, which denies all of the students' allegations, has been given two weeks to comply with the VETAB standards.

A statement by Aerospace's director of training and chief flying instructor, Sue Davis, said the company was "confident" it would meet the standards.