Australasian College under investigation
A private training college in inner Sydney is under police investigation following allegations of a multimillion-dollar fraud involving hundreds of ”phantom students”.
NSW Police and the Department of Education are investigating claims the Australasian College at Broadway used the details of prospective students to make it look as if they had completed courses that attracted a state government subsidy of up to $10,000 per head.
“They did the enrolment forms then withdrew. “
The college is under scrutiny by the regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority.
A number of students contacted by Fairfax Media said they enrolled in courses then withdrew or their employers had enrolled them but they had never attended classes or completed a course.
The allegations centre on hairdressing and beauty therapy courses which attracted subsidies from $4500 to $10,000 under the state government’s now-defunct Productivity Places Program.
It is believed the college claimed up to $4 million for almost 700 students under the scheme but up to half the students may have been bogus.
Bondi hairdresser Doran Daws enrolled in a diploma of hairdressing and salon management in 2010 but withdrew after two weeks. Documents obtained by Fairfax Media show the college made a claim under his name for a Productivity Places Program subsidy.
According to the Productivity Places Program price rates card for that time, the subsidy netted $9000 for the college on condition that the student completed the course.
”I know two or three people who did the same,” he said. ”They did the enrolment forms then withdrew.”
Jadranka Mihic’s former employer enrolled her and other staff in the same course and she had a claim made under her name.
”None of us ever went,” Ms Mihic said. ”Even though it was free, it wasn’t something we were very interested in. I never attended a single class. I was never taught anything at the school.”
Jennifer Hackett, of Sans Souci, enrolled in a diploma of beauty therapy in 2009 but had to withdraw early in the program. As she was a job seeker, the price rate was $10,000. Under the Productivity Places Program, which ran from 2009 to 2012, registered training organisations on the state government’s approved providers list could apply for funding to run certain courses with a qualification of certificate IV or above.
Former staff at the college, speaking on the condition of anonymity, say they were coerced into processing student files even when they were thought to be suspect.
A former staff member said while there were many legitimate students, up to 60 per cent of the claims made may have been fake towards the end of the program.
Repeated approaches for comment on the matter have been declined by the college.