Sydney, July 15 (ANI): Businesses across Australia are exploiting thousands of international students by making them work free or even to pay to get work, as the current immigration and education laws in the country require students to gain 900 hours' of work experience.
Termed by experts as economic slavery, the vast pool of unpaid labour was created in 2005 when vocational students were required to work even if they were not paid.
Overseas students remained bound to the system as completion of such courses became a near-guaranteed pathway to permanent residency, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Since then, the number of foreign students enrolled in the vocational training sector has leapt from 65,120 to 173,432 last year - about half of all our overseas students.
One university-educated overseas student said that she spent 22,000 dollars and two years doing a hairdressing course she will never use, to secure her residency.
Many colleges charge students thousands of dollars in "placement fees" only to advertise their supply of free labour to local business. A black market has sprung up in fraudulent letters of completion.
"You've got the agents and the proprietors realising there is a flood of free labour, but of course the demand for placements outstrips the supply - so even if they wanted to take all that free labour, they can't use it all," said immigration agent, Karl Konrad.
A trade in fraudulent documents had evolved with employers and agents selling students verification that they had completed their 900 hours. They charge between 15,000-20,000 dollars for such paperwork.
"They are slaves. They work for free from 11 o'clock to 11 o'clock - no breaks, no nothing. They have to pay the owner for the paperwork. They want to stay here. They will do anything. They work with no workers' compensation, no insurance. If they are injured at work, bad luck," one agent said.
Konrad said many students had taken out loans or mortgages at home to pay the fees.
"If you have taken a loan in Indian dollars of 20,000 dollars to study here, that is going to take you nearly 20 years to pay off in India. Parents can be kicked out of their homes," he said. (ANI)