2014: $110 million – 117 diplomas

December 22: The Sydney training college, Australian Institute of Professional Education (AIPE) has had its licence cancelled by the ASQA. The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) cancelled the registration of Australian Institute of Professional Education Pty Ltd (RTO number 91437) (“AIPE”) as a provider of vocational education and training (VET) services, including to overseas students.

Australian Institute of Professional Education Pty Ltd trades as Australian Institute of Professional Education, AIPE, StudyOnline and Study Connect.

photo-1428954376791-d9ae785dfb2dASQA, the national regulator for vocational education and training says, has taken this decision following comprehensive regulatory scrutiny of the training provider over a number of months.

The scrutiny of the provider was part of ASQA’s targeted audits of 21 training providers approved by the Department of Education and Training to participate in the Commonwealth’s VET FEE-HELP scheme.

ASQA contends that the provider has not operated consistently with the requirements of the VET Quality Framework, which all registered training organisations are required to satisfy as a condition of registration.

In an earlier statement released on 24
November, ASQA said it had received complaints about students being enrolled by AIPE in courses without their knowledge or permission, resulting in a VET FEE-HELP debt.

AIPE told ASQA it had improved marketing material and clarified the withdrawal process.

“Notwithstanding these changes, the audit found non-compliance with the Standards for RTOs 2015. Specifically, the audit found non-compliances in the areas of student recruitment and monitoring of recruitment by third parties, provision of learner support, assessment, marketing and monitoring of marketing by third parties, and consumer information regarding fees and payment terms”, the statement said.

AIPE-frontAIPE provided rectification evidence to ASQA on 7 August 2015 as to how it had addressed these matters.

“The rectification evidence did not demonstrate that the RTO (AIPE) has addressed the identified non-compliances.”

“On the basis of the analysis of the rectification evidence, the RTO (AIPE) remained critically non-compliant.”

The Commissioners gave AIPE notice that ASQA intends to make a decision to cancel the RTO’s VET registration and to cancel its CRICOS registration, or impose a lesser sanction.

The Commissioners made this decision on 27 October 2015 and issued the training provider with a notice of intention to cancel its registration on 4 November 2015.

BT believes AIPE submitted evidence of the remedial steps it had taken to rectify the alleged problems, to be compliant as required by law.

ASQA Commissioners considered the evidence received from the provider in response to its notice and, on 17 December 2015, cancelled the provider’s registration effective 1 February 2016, under the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 and its registration for VET courses under the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000.

The AIPE was established in 2008 and was granted licence to operate and participate in the Commonwealth’s lucrative VET FEE-HELP scheme in 2011.

AIPE has been deregistered just a month after being named a finalist in the government’s training awards, leaving some 8000 students’ careers in limbo.

Only on 16 July, 2015, AIPE’s chief executive and owner, Amjad Khanche, fronted up the the Senate Education and Employment References Committee which was sitting to explore the topic of “Getting our money’s worth: the operation, regulation and funding of private vocational education and training (VET) providers in Australia

Mr Khanche said he was saddened by the behaviour of some bad apples in the industry.

“Sadly, I understand that the behaviour of a number of bad apples in the VET sector continues to plague the reputation of all VET providers,” Mr Khanche told the senate education committee in July.

“I am deeply disappointed that the behaviour of those providers compromises the standing of providers like AIPE, which is committed to offering our students the very best [vocational education and training.”

The Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET), showing full faith in Mr Khanche’s college and its practices had described his evidence as “particularly compelling”.

Just over 4 months later in November, AIPE was notified of its looming deregistration.

In a story on 30 November, the Fairfax papers revealed that the AIPE had been paid $104 million in Commonwealth funding in 2015 under the controversial VET FEE-HELP scheme, on top of $110 million last year (2014), making it one of the largest private colleges in the country.

“Despite the huge money paid, however, only 117 students graduated in 2014”, the story said.

The paper revealed the story of a Paul Wiggett, 19, a welfare recipient who cannot read or write, found himself signed up to an Events diploma at AIPE after first being sold a different diploma from Melbourne’s Phoenix Institute. He did not know about the second college until AIPE sent him a package of goods (including a bag and a cap) through the mail. He subsequently withdrew from the course.

Mr Khanche was awarded the “Young Exporter” of the year by Australian Institute of Exports for the year 2011.

In a statement responding to the cancellation, the AIPE’s website (in part) says:

AIPE disputes ASQA’s decision and will be seeking a review of the decision in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). AIPE will also be seeking an order that ASQA’s decision be stayed so that AIPE may continue to provide its educational programs and support services until the AAT has made its decision, which is likely to be late next year.

AIPE remains proud of its achievements and will continue to improve and implement its policies and processes. For any students wishing to seek further information please contact student support services at aipe@aipe.edu.au.
This is the third registration cancellation decision taken by ASQA as a result of its strengthened focus on VET FEE-HELP approved providers. The other providers have been Phoenix Institute of Australia and Unique International College.
-Ramakrishna VenuGopal

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