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Premier and unis issue warning over overseas students group


The O’Farrell government will on Friday join NSW Police and every university in the state to issue a warning about the activities of an organisation claiming to represent international students which has been removed from several campuses after asking for personal information, including passport and visa numbers, for “safety cards” that are not recognised by police.

The Overseas Student Association also claims on its website that its card entitles holders to a range of discounts across the state, including at the Art Gallery of NSW and the Powerhouse Museum. The gallery, museum and other cultural institutions have joined the government in issuing the extraordinary warning, saying they have expressly refused requests by the OSA for the discounts.

Police have been called to remove representatives of the OSA from the University of NSW and University of Newcastle in the past after concerns were raised about them asking international students for personal information.

The vice-chancellor of University of Newcastle, Professor Caroline McMillen, said representatives had contacted her university on a number of occasions in a manner that was “harassing and aggressive”.


The group is believed to be motivated by a desire for political influence on campuses.

The OSA is the campus wing of the National Liaison Committee, an organisation that once represented international students at the National Union of Students but which was disaffiliated in 2009. The NLC is headed by a businessman, Master Shang.

They claim the “SAFETYCard” is useful for international students if they find themselves victimised in a criminal incident.

“By showing SAFETYCard to police when reporting an incident, police officers on duty are made aware of your identity as an international student who is protected by NLCommunity support services and consular protection,” they state on their website.

Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner said the activities of the OSA raised serious concern.

“The OSA is purporting to represent international students in NSW, however, it is not supported or recognised by the NSW Government, education providers, industry peak bodies or international student organisations,” he said.

“This warning offers sound advice to international students regarding the OSA and confirms that the Council of International Students Australia (CISA) is recognised as the representative body for international students in NSW.”

A spokesman for the NLC said “SAFETYCard is the national safety program of the International Student Community, jointly supported by Australian Police and Multicultural Community to create the national safety network for International Students.”


Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/premier-and-unis-issue-warning-over-overseas-students-group-20131107-2x4i4.html#ixzz2kHlQL2LXif (document.currentScript) {

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