Sunday, 26 March 2017

Privately run vocational training 'colleges' - what could possibly go wrong?

Just one of many allegedly dodgy businesses allowed to flourish under a dubious federal education policy which saw state government-run TAFE colleges allowed to decline.

The Age, 13 March 2017:

Rich-list tycoons behind a vocational training empire that collapsed after receiving $100 million in government funding have been implicated in alleged fraud, predatory conduct towards vulnerable students and shocking vilification of business associates.

The claims of widespread malfeasance at Australian Careers Network have been laid bare during an extraordinary defamation trial in the Supreme Court of Victoria that was launched by ACN co-founder Atkinson Prakash Charan against the publisher of The Australian newspaper.

Mr Charan is a former Qantas baggage handler who joined forces with ex-policeman Ivan Brown and invested their last $500 to register their first vocational training business in 2012.

Just two years later, they joined the ranks of the BRW Young Rich List in 2014 with a stake in an estimated $177 million fortune when ACN was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

ACN was placed into voluntary administration last March after the federal government froze more than $40 million in payments under the VET FEE-HELP loans program.

The company is the subject of an ongoing fraud investigation by the federal Department of Education and Training. 

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