A corruption inquiry is being held into claims Australian university lecturers are demanding money from vulnerable Asian students - some of them from Hong Kong - in a 'grades for sale' scandal. The Independent Commission Against Corruption in New South Wales has confirmed it is taking seriously allegations against senior lecturers from at least one tertiary institute in western Sydney. It has been alleged they may have been pressuring students into paying between $3,000 and $12,000 to pass courses. The National Union of Students has said the incidents highlight the vulnerable position of many overseas students. The union said many students, separated from family and friends, were afraid to report the corrupt approaches. Union spokesman John Nolan-Neylan said bringing these complaints to light allowed them to expose a broader, long-hidden problem - the lack of a uniform procedure for dealing with such grievances. Mr Nolan-Neylan said some foreign students paid $60,000 a year to attend Australian universities. He said that, when illegally asked for money, they were scared and uncertain of their rights. 'There is a fear that if they don't pay, their marks will suffer,' he said. There are suggestions the scam may be operating in Western Australia and there has also been an allegation about another New South Wales university. The scandal follows disturbing allegations in Queensland last month that Hong Kong criminals were involved in an extortion racket aimed at Asian students. The Queensland Criminal Justice Commission is leading an inquiry after complaints from some Hong Kong students at Bond University that they were being preyed on by territory-based gang leaders. The commission has vowed to broaden public awareness of the problem and is organising seminars to encourage students to report sinister approaches.