Top Education Institute, which operates out of the University of Sydney, claimed to have exclusive access to an internship program with global consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
The flyers, which were distributed through Chinese social media app WeChat last week, offered students the chance to ‘work closely with PwC partners,’ The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Students angered at the prospect of paying a $2,800 fee to secure their position in a program with a ‘1 per cent admission rate in Australia’ began to question the legitimacy of the internship.
But the companies now say that the advertisements were incorrect, clarifying that the ‘internship’ actually referred to a 10-day training course at the Sydney office.
‘The description of the course as an ‘internship’ was incorrect,’ the firm said in a joint statement with Top Education.
‘The program being offered by Top Education is not part of PwC’s internship, vacationer or graduate programs. PwC does not require students to pay to undertake internships.’
The companies say steps were taken last week to have the advertisements ‘removed and reissued to accurately reflect the nature of the course.’
PwC, one of the ‘Big Four’ auditors (along with Deloitte, EY and KPMG), has offices across 157 countries, employs over 200,000 people worldwide, and turned over $35 billion in revenue last year.
Students already signed up to spend 10 days in the Sydney office ‘in the belief they would be participating in PwC’s internship program’ have since been offered full refunds, PwC said.
Minshen Zhu, CEO of Top Education, acts as a senior adviser to the University of Sydney’s Confucius Institute and is known for his impressive connections back home in China.
His website shows him posing alongside important Chinese figures such as Premier Li Keqiang, Minister for Education Professor Yuan Guiren, and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.