Distressed former students of a Sydney college owned by a prominent NSW political donor have claimed they were signed up to diplomas costing thousands of dollars just weeks before the beauty college collapsed.
In December, up to 800 students were left stranded without a qualification and in student debt after the Australasian College, owned by Order of Australia medallist Maureen Houssein-Mustafa, went into liquidation over the Christmas break.
Despite being under a NSW police investigation over allegations hundreds of "phantom students" were enrolled in courses they never completed, the college earned more than $10.4 million in taxpayer-funded loans last year.
Teenager Sarah Flawn is among the hundreds of students who have since been sidelined by the college's collapse.
The 16-year-old from Campbelltown dropped out of high school to undertake a make-up diploma at the 22-year-old Broadway institution.
"They got her in on December 2 to sign the paperwork," her father, Simon Flawn, said.
"They asked us not to insert any dates as they said we were past the intake cut-off date for funding."
Mr Flawn said his daughter had struggled during school and that the make-up course had offered her new hope.
"She is devastated, absolutely devastated, she blew up and left the house for two days," he said.
Diploma of beauty therapy student Blossom McGill said "every student feels like they've been robbed".
"I refuse to pay $18,800 for this course but I'm not sure what to do," she said. "Everyone has told me to forget about it but that's a huge debt for something I didn't want."
Fairfax Media had been unable to reach Ms Houssein-Mustafa for comment. Questions were directed to liquidators Rodgers Reidy.
The entrepeneur received the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to vocational education and training in 2011 and came 29th on the BRW rich list in 2014 after earning more than $40 million.
She had previously co-hosted a $1500 a head fundraiser for former Liberal leader John Brogden and donated thousands of dollars to the National Party.
In a statement on the college's now de-activated website Rodgers Reidy said it did not anticipate that the college would be in a position to operate in 2017.
It advised affected students to contact the Australian Council for Private Education and Training to discuss options for being placed at another college to continue their studies or having their VET FEE HELP Loan re-credited.
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