Another Sydney beauty college on the brink of collapse

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Update: The federal Department of Education has announced that it intends to cancel The Australasian College of Health and Wellness’s accreditation. The Glebe-based institution is the second education provider owned by Maureen Houssein-Mustafa that could close if it does not successfully appeal against the Department’s show cause notice.

The Broadway branch closed late last year after suddenly announcing it was in administration, leaving up to 800 students in the lurch.

In 2015, the Glebe college was approved to deliver a degree backed by taxpayer-funded student HECS loans in applied health, despite an ongoing investigation into its Broadway centre concerning the enrollment of hundreds of phantom students.

Ms. Houssein-Mustafa has strongly denied these claims, today telling the Sydney Morning Herald the police investigation was caused by “people trying to get me” and an “an aggrieved staff member who was a mental health patient who wanted to cause trouble”.

“I paid $1.1 million for independent forensic investigators to turn my company upside down,” she said. “I’ve done nothing wrong.” She went on to say the college would appeal against the intention to cancel its accreditation.

The college was put onto the market in an attempt to recoup some of the cost of the collapsed VET-FEE HELP diploma college, with Ms. Houssein-Mustafa saying there had been 16 expressions of interest already.

The cancellation could cost Ms. Houssein-Mustafa up to $14.5 million, the amount the beauty entrepreneur says she spent between 2013 and 2015 to get approval for delivering degrees.

She told the Sydney Morning Herald she has been devastated by the social media backlash against her Broadway college’s collapse, which offered diploma courses in make-up and beauty.

“I’m at the stage where I’m thinking I’ve dedicated my life to helping people and people seem to think they can say whatever they want on Facebook,” she said.

“Put yourself in my position, I can barely walk out the door, let alone enrol people.”

Original article (first published 9th January, 2017) 

A Sydney beauty college has gone into administration despite $10.4 million in funding, leaving hundreds of students and staff in the dark about their futures. The Australasian College Broadway made the announcement late last year to 800 students who recently signed up to diplomas costing thousands of dollars.

Owned by Order of Australia medalist and prominent Liberal and National party donor Maureen Houssein-Mustafa, the Broadway training college was previously under investigation following allegations of multimillion-dollar fraud involving hundreds of phantom students.

In a letter to employees on December 23, administrator Robert Moodie of insolvency firm Rodgers Reidy confirmed that all staff would be let go before Christmas Eve.

“The company has ceased trading upon our appointment and as a result your employment has been terminated,” the letter said.

Mr. Moodie told Fairfax Media the investigation into the college was in its infancy and that the move into administration was caused by a “lack of cash flow”.

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Australasian College Broadway campus

According to Federal Department of Education data, despite the college’s 800-strong student following, only 73 trainees graduated last year.

“At this stage it is highly unlikely the college will be trading in 2017,” said Mr. Moodie.

A spokesman for the Australian Skills Quality Authority told Fairfax Media that the regulator has had a number of interactions with the college in recent years and that a further targeted audit was “well advanced” when the company entered administration.

The college’s collapse occurred just three days before the government’s notorious vocational education funding reforms came into effect.

After creating over $3 billion in public debt in 2016, VET FEE Help was replaced by VET Students Loans program on January 1, with tougher regulations placed on providers.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham told Fairfax Media that the changes had obviously put pressure on the college, but the new measures would ensure taxpayer funding was providing quality education.

Images by Louie Douvis and Lidia Nikonova

 

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