ISEAA is taking the lead on the Certification of Agents. There is a lot of discussion taking place across the nation about the role of agents. ISEAA has been very clear about the standards that International Student Education Agents members should meet. As part of this process, there has been an amount of consultation with Federal Government Agencies and key Industry Peak Bodies. ISEAA has a multi-dimensional approach to the development and implementation of the Agent Certification.
ISEAA’s proposed Agent Certification has been split into 2 phases. After the end of last year’s trip to Canberra, the ISEAA team has taken into consideration all comments and feedback received from DESE and DHA regarding the proposed idea.
Firstly, the Agent Certification Framework needs to be updated. This will state clearly that ISEAA will support Education Agents to carry out their current roles within the parameters of the current legislation. In addition, it will also argue the case for changes to be made in the future to allow Education Agents to provide high-level migration advice to their clients.
The work-in-progress model needs to comply with the current migration regulations in relation to “migration assistance”. There are several recommendations made to DHA by various working groups to amend the migration regulation (making it tighter) in terms of the migration assistance and who can provide it and under what circumstances, but as of today, no official changes were announced.
The Framework will be presented to the ISEAA Board with a view to endorsement and then taken to Government Agencies, and Peak Bodies both in Australia and internationally for their comment and feedback. Once there has been in principle industry support, the training materials will be developed, and a Communication and Consultation Plan will be implemented to keep ISEAA members and the wider International Education Industry up to date with the progress of the important project. It is envisaged the first Agent Certification Training Program will be delivered by the end of 2022.
The proposal made by ISEAA members has two phases. Phase one is designed to train education agents in the current law (not only migration regulations but also the ESOS Act) as it stands. Finding ways for agents to operate in a way that migration regulations and the ESOS ACT are complied with, represents a major compliance matter for CRICIOS registered providers.
National Code, Part D, Standard 4
4.3. The registered provider must not accept students from an education agent or enter into an agreement with an education agent if it knows or reasonably suspects the education agent to be:
d. providing immigration advice where not authorised under the Migration Act 1958 to do so
4.4. Where the registered provider has entered into an agreement with an education agent and subsequently becomes aware of, or reasonably suspects, the engagement by that education agent, or an employee or sub-contractor of that agent, of the conduct set out in Standard 4.3, the registered provider must terminate the agreement with the education agent
The second phase is to keep engaging DHA and DESE in finding a realistic solution by presenting Education Training and Certification stage for the Education agents, in order for the education agents to operate under a defined framework and conduct their activity in such a way, which is expected of them by the international students.
On 4 July 2022 David Riordan (ISEAA Board Advisor) will meet again with the expert panel represented by EA, NEAS, TDA, ITECA, and UA in order to consult with all the stakeholders, whose interests are to see the international education industry operation to improve on the quality of provided services, compliance and improved integrity of individual education agents.
A few weeks after Robert Parsonson (ISEAA Executive Officer) and Michal Sestak (ISEAA Executive Director) will organize and run a webinar for education agents with the updates from the Expert panel session. In September ISEAA board members engage DHA and DESE with an amended plan based on their recommendations received end of 2021 and the expert panel advice. This article was written by Michal Sestak - ISEAA's Executive Director - and David Riordan - ISEAA's Board Advisor