Australia has decided to close down three vocational colleges for non-compliance of training standards, a move that will impact more than 500 Indian students.

However, Australian High Commissioner to India Peter Varghese on Wednesday gave an assurance that Indian students would be protected.

He was commenting on the move by Australia’s vocational education regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), to shut down two non-compliant vocational education and training colleges in Victoria and one in New South Wales (NSW).

Following comprehensive compliance assessments, including multiple site visits by ASQA officers, the ASQA audits concluded that the colleges were non-compliant with the standards that providers were required to meet in the delivery of training to domestic and international students.

“The decision to reject a training organisation’s registration is not one we take lightly but the interests of students and the integrity of training standards across the VET sector have to be upheld,” said ASQA Chief Commissioner Chris Robinson.

“The institutions have the right to have ASQA’s decision reviewed which may delay or change the decision,” he said.

Depending on the outcome of any appeal, the decisions take effect from October 30 and apply to all courses offered by The Ashmark Group Pty Ltd. and G Plus G Global Trading Pty Ltd. Both colleges have campuses in Melbourne, Victoria. ASQA also served notice last month on the Ivy Group in NSW.

There are over 400 Indian students enrolled at the Ashmark Group college, over 100 Indian students enrolled at G Plus G Global and 30 more Indian students enrolled at the Ivy Group.

Mr. Varghese said in New Delhi that Indian students affected by the possible closure would be covered by a legislated safety net.

“The Australian government has in place a comprehensive suite of protection mechanisms to safeguard the interests of overseas students under the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 [the ESOS Act],” said Mr. Varghese.

“If these education providers do close and do not meet their obligations to students, international students will be able to access the Australian Government’s Tuition Protection Scheme (TPS)… The TPS will seek to place affected students in an alternative course or refund any unspent pre-paid tuition fees to the students.”