March 8, 2013

 

Nearly three-quarters of Australians believe international students should be encouraged to stay in the country after completing their university studies, according to a survey.

Universities Australia has released research on perceptions of the tertiary sector on the eve of this week’s higher education conference in Canberra.

About 80 per cent of 300 business representatives surveyed and 72 per cent of 1000 members of the public said international students should be encouraged to stay in Australia on completion of their studies, particularly if sponsored by an employer.

”However, some stakeholder respondents have voiced concerns that the university system is perceived to be too heavily reliant on income from international student enrolments,” the report said.

”There is also a view that additional support, for instance with English language learning and better facilities such as affordable student housing, may be required.

”Participants were generally comfortable about the proportion of internationally students, at roughly 20 per cent.”

The study found Australian universities were generally well regarded, with 88 per cent of the surveyed public saying they would encourage their child or young people they knew to attend university.

Most saw the main role of universities to educate for skilled/professional jobs, with far fewer identifying the sector’s contribution to research and development – something Universities Australia described as being of ”some concern”.

Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson said the study showed that people strongly valued international students, who helped build deep cultural ties with their fellow students and the wider community.

”International students are also playing a pivotal role in increasing our engagement with Asian nations during this Asian Century,” she said.

”They are helping Australia forge valuable links with their home countries, providing a cross-cultural dialogue with domestic students and sustaining ongoing relationships with Australia in their post-student lives.”

A spokesman for Universities Australia said the polling involved qualitative and quantitative research, including focus groups and surveys of the public and business.

He said the data was weighted to be representative of the Australian population and the whole business community.

The higher education conference, running from Wednesday to Friday, will include keynote speeches by new Tertiary Education Minister Chris Bowen, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, Universities Australia chairman Glyn Davis, and former Treasury secretary Ken Henry.

 

By Daniel Hurst Feb. 26, 2013

Source: NewCastle Herald

March 20, 2012
March 20, 2012

NORTH Coast TAFE has welcomed a Federal Government proposal that would give TAFE students the chance to defer their course fees interest-free in a HECS-style system.

Under the Skills Plan proposal the government would abolish upfront fees for students in vocational education and training (VET) and provide a National Training Entitlement that would give every Australian a guaranteed place in training up to their first Certificate III.

The reforms are expected to cost the government $1.75 billion.

Federal MP Justine Elliot has applauded the announcement saying it will give Tweed residents without a post-school qualification the chance to up-skill and earn more money.

“No longer will local people be locked out of a higher qualification simply because they can’t pay the fees upfront,” Mrs Elliot said.

“Opening up a HECS-style system will put those wanting to undertake vocational education and training on a level footing with university students for the first time.”

The offer is particularly appealing to rural and regional North Coast TAFE students who rely on completing a TAFE course before moving to metropolitan universities or starting distance education.

Institute director Elizabeth McGregor is looking forward to more discussion of the proposal at a meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) next month.

“COAG has previously set a target of doubling by 2020 the number of people completing higher level VET qualifications,” Ms McGregor said.

“We in North Coast TAFE welcome the thrust of these proposals as they recognise that the capabilities developed through undertaking TAFE diplomas or advanced diploma are equally important to our nation’s productivity as university qualifications, and that students studying them are equally deserving of financial assistance.

“Apart from providing industry recognised, job-ready skills, a higher level TAFE course also gives a significant head start towards a university degree.

“Workers with a TAFE certificate or diploma could earn up to $10,000 a year extra or $400,000 more over their working lifetime.”

The Skills Plan will also see the release of a new My Skills website later this year which will allow students to compare courses, fees, providers and the quality of training on offer.

 

Source: mydailynews.com.au Rebecca Masters | 20th March 2012

February 16, 2012

The changes are in response to the immigration department’s 2011 review of student visa assessment level settings.

INTERNATIONAL students will more easily be able to apply for visas following changes announced by Federal Immigration and Citizenship Minister, Chris Bowen.

The changes, welcomed by the higher education sector, mean the number of assessment levels across a range of student visa subclasses will be reduced, making the visa application process easier for students from 29 countries.

The changes, which will take effect from March 24, are in response to the immigration department’s 2011 review of student visa assessment level settings.

“While it was recommended that some assessment levels be increased, I have decided to only implement the reductions in order to best support Australia’s international education sector,” Mr Bowen said.

Mr Bowen said the changes would help around 10,500 prospective students.

“These changes will particularly benefit the postgraduate research sector, English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students and vocational education and training providers.”

For example, South Koreans studying VET and ELICOS courses and postgraduate research students from China, India and Indonesia will now find it easier to apply for visas, Mr Bowen said.

Universities Australia welcomed the changes to the student visa system as “a terrific outcome”.

“It really is a terrific outcome not just for the higher education sector but for the Australian economy more broadly because at a time we’re seeing manufacturing struggling, tourism struggling, both primarily because of the strong Australian dollar, it’s really important for those industries that are strong to be able to step up to offset some of those economic implications,” said Universities Australia chief executive, Belinda Robinson.

“The international education sector is Australia’s third largest export industry, and over the 2010-11 period international higher education students spent an average of $38,000 each in this country on goods, services and fees.

“And as well the stronger our international education industry is, the more affordable education is for Australian students.”

Meanwhile a new report released by ranking provider QS (Quacquarelli Symonds Limited) found Australian cities are among the most attractive study destinations in the world.

Using scores that take into account student mix, affordability, quality of living and employer activity, as well as their own QS World University Rankings, the company compiled a top fifty list of the ”best student cities”.

Ms Robinson said that according to QS, Australia had more cities than any other country in the world listed in the top 50, making it one of the world’s most favourable study environments.

If “affordability” was removed as a criterion, Melbourne and Sydney would be ranked at number 1 and 4 respectively.

“While it may be a little more expensive to live and study in Australia, the quality of living, employment opportunities, student mix and the quality of universities makes Australia a very appealing place for those seeking to study abroad,” Ms Robinson said.

Source: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au 16 February 2012

February 15, 2012
February 15, 2012


1                     The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, today announced the Government will make the visa application process easier for students from 29 countries by reducing assessment levels across a range of student visa subclasses from 24 March.

The changes are in response to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s (DIAC) 2011 review of student visa assessment level settings, which recommended that a number of assessment levels be changed. 

“While it was recommended that some assessment levels be increased, I have decided to only implement the reductions in order to best support Australia’s international education sector,” Mr Bowen said.

“Lowering the minimum evidentiary requirement for the grant of a student visa for selected countries and visa subclasses is expected to help around 10,500 prospective students.

“These changes will particularly benefit the postgraduate research sector, English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) and vocational education and training (VET) providers.”

For example, South Koreans studying VET and ELICOS courses and postgraduate research students from China, India and Indonesia will now find it easier to apply for visas.

“The reduction in assessment levels builds on the measures implemented as a result of the Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program, undertaken by the Hon Michael Knight AO, to ensure Australia remains an attractive study option for overseas students,” Mr Bowen said. 

Assessment levels are an important tool in managing the student visa program, as they ensure the efficient delivery of services to a diverse range of students while supporting the integrity of Australia’s immigration program.

Assessment levels align visa requirements to the immigration risk posed by students from every country and in each education sector. They are regularly reviewed and amended to accurately reflect the risk posed by a student cohort.

Those countries and sectors that were recommended to be subject to an increase in assessment levels will be placed on notice and reviewed as part of any future reforms to the risk management framework. 

More information on the reductions to student visa assessment levels can be found at www.immi.gov.au/students/student-visa-assessment-levels.htm

2                     Reduction of Certain Student Visa Assessment Levels

Reductions in Student visa assessment levels for 29 countries for certain Student visa subclasses was announced by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship on 15 February 2012. These reductions will take effect on 24 March 2012.

These changes will lower the minimum evidentiary requirements needed for the grant of a Student visa for certain countries and education sectors.

The following is a list of countries and Student visa subclasses affected by the assessment level decreases which will take effect on 24 March 2012.

Country of Citizenship

Education Sector

Updated Assessment Levels

Belize

Subclass 572 – VET

AL2

Bhutan

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Botswana

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL1

Botswana

Subclass 575 – Non–Award

AL1

Bulgaria

Subclass 570 – ELICOS

AL1

Bulgaria

Subclass 572 – VET

AL1

Bulgaria

Subclass 573 – Higher Ed

AL1

Bulgaria

Subclass 575 – Non–Award

AL1

China, Peoples Republic of

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Ecuador

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Egypt

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

India

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Indonesia

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL1

Indonesia

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Jordan

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL2

Kazakhstan

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Kazakhstan

Subclass 575 – Non–Award

AL2

Korea, South

Subclass 570 – ELICOS

AL1

Korea, South

Subclass 572 – VET

AL1

Latvia

Subclass 572 – VET

AL1

Lebanon

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL2

Lebanon

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Lebanon

Subclass 575 – Non–Award

AL3

Maldives

Subclass 570 – ELICOS

AL2

Maldives

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL1

Maldives

Subclass 573 – Higher Ed

AL1

Mauritius

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL1

Mexico

Subclass 572 – VET

AL1

Montenegro, Republic of

Subclass 570 – ELICOS

AL2

Montenegro, Republic of

Subclass 57
2 – VET

AL2

Montenegro, Republic of

Subclass 573 – Higher Ed

AL2

Montenegro, Republic of

Subclass 575 – Non–Award

AL2

Namibia

Subclass 573 – Higher Ed

AL2

Nepal

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Nicaragua

Subclass 570 – ELICOS

AL2

Nicaragua

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL2

Nicaragua

Subclass 572 – VET

AL2

Nicaragua

Subclass 575 – Non–Award

AL2

Philippines

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL1

Reunion

Subclass 572 – VET

AL1

Reunion

Subclass 573 – Higher Ed

AL1

Seychelles

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL1

Seychelles

Subclass 572 – VET

AL1

Seychelles

Subclass 575 – Non–Award

AL1

Suriname

Subclass 573 – Higher Ed

AL2

Suriname

Subclass 575 – Non–Award

AL2

Tanzania

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL2

Tanzania

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Turkey

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL2

Turkey

Subclass 572 – VET

AL2

Ukraine

Subclass 570 – ELICOS

AL2

Ukraine

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL2

Ukraine

Subclass 573 – Higher Ed

AL2

Ukraine

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Ukraine

Subclass 575 – Non–Award

AL2

Venezuela

Subclass 572 – VET

AL1

3                     Frequently asked Questions

4 Q: I am an international student studying in Australia. Do these changes affect me?

A: These changes will only affect new Student visa applications made on or after 24 March 2012.

5 Q: What does a reduction of assessment levels mean to Student visa applicants?

A: Students affected by the changes will be required to provide less documentary evidence to support their claims for the grant of a Student visa. These may include evidence of English language proficiency, financial capacity and academic qualifications.

6 Q: Where can I find out more information about assessment levels?

A: Further information on assessment levels including a full list of current assessment levels is available on the department’s website.
See: Student Visa Assessment Levels

 

October 12, 2011
October 12, 2011

Seven Australian universities have secured places in a list of the top 200 higher education institutions in the world, according to the Times Higher Education world university rankings.

Heading the list is the University of Melbourne (37, down from 36 last year).

Big improvements were made by the University of Sydney (58, up from 71 last year) and the Australian National University (38, up from 43 last year).

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The University of Queensland continued its impressive rise in the international standing, reaching 74 from 81 last year.

The University of Adelaide (73 last year) has dropped from the list.

Monash University (117), the University of NSW (173) and the University of Western Australia (189) round out the list of Australian entrants.

Harvard was knocked from the top of the perch for the first time in eight years by the California Institute of Technology to now sit in equal second place with Stanford University.

Oxford, in fourth place, edged past Cambridge, which is sixth.

Arts, humanities and social sciences placed on an equal footing with science in the Times rankings, which are built on what the publication terms the four core missions of a modern global university: research, teaching, knowledge transfer and international activity.

The highest-ranking Asian university is the University of Tokyo in 30th place; China has only three universities in the top 200 list.

The Times list is one of the more authoritative rankings.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald  smh.com.au

September 28, 2011
September 28, 2011

 

UNIVERSITIES will be allowed to entice foreign students with quick visa approvals and the right to two years of work after graduation as part of a reform package to stem further losses of overseas student income.

 

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans said yesterday they would act on a remarkably frank report on Australia’s education export industry by former NSW politician Michael Knight.

 

By mid next year, foreign students keen on an Australian university degree will have access to a new, fast-track visa system.

 

Students from supposedly high-risk countries, such as China, no longer will have to show $75,000-plus in a bank account to prove they can cover fees and living costs.

 

Regardless of where they are from, would-be students will simply have to make a declaration they can support themselves.

 

Onerous financial requirements have been bitterly criticised as an over-reaction to past failings when migration was the motor of education, especially in private colleges.

 

Under yesterday’s Knight reforms, which single out universities for special treatment, foreign graduates emerging with a bachelor’s degree will be entitled to two years of work with no restriction on the type of job.

 

But if they want to stay for good they still have to satisfy stricter rules for skilled migration, which are much less generous to on-shore foreign students with low value skills.

 

University leaders yesterday welcomed the liferaft thrown them by the government.

 

“The reforms announced are more positive than anyone we spoke to expected [and] they come when competitors are kicking own goals _ riots in the UK and US funding cuts,” said University of NSW vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer.

 

“We expect a moderate lift in 2012 and a significant lift in 2013.”

 

In New Delhi yesterday, Professor Hilmer said education agents had told him that a streamlined student visa system was “the key to restoring our competitive position”.

 

Violence against students and tighter rules for skilled migration drove Indian students away while the US and Canada were making inroads on the China market.

 

In 2010-11, Australia’s education export earnings fell by almost 10 per cent from their $18 billion peak. Sharp declines in numbers at English language colleges and tertiary preparation courses suggest that universities are heading into tough trading conditions next year.

 

The education export industry complains of “a perfect storm” _ meaning rapid and unsettling changes in visa rules and skilled migration policy, the strong dollar and more competition for students overseas, and lingering reputational damage done by attacks on Indian students.

 

Under the Knight reforms, broadly adopted by the government, students wanting to study for a bachelor’s or higher qualification at university will find it easier and quicker to get a visa, regardless what country they are from.

 

“Unfortunately the worst perceptions about visa processing times are in Australia’s biggest market, China,” Mr Knight said.

 

From next autumn, would-be university students would benefit from an end to the requirement that they show large amounts of money upfront as evidence of capacity to pay.

 

Also promised next year is a comprehensive review of the so-called risk assessment levels that immigration officials use to vet would-be students. This system makes it harder for students from China and India, for example, to get visas.

 

Mr Knight recommended a new work rights regime for foreign students who graduate from an Australian university.

 

He said this had to be “administratively very simple”.

 

“The scheme must be one which can be marketed by the universities to prospective students as almost guaranteeing post-study work rights,” he said.

 

Glenn Withers, chief executive of Universities Australia, said the work entitlement was “one of the biggest breakthroughs”.

 

“This [work right] is as good or better than the Canadian or the US provisions,” he said.

 

But Monash University researcher Bob Birrell said the labour market implications had not been thought through.

 

Locals already were competing with thousands of former overseas students who were on bridging visas following a reform of the skilled migration rules, he said.

 

Stephen Connelly, from the International Education Association Australia, welcomed the Knight reforms.

 

He praised the extension of the new streamlined visa rules to packages including university study with foundation programs or English language courses.

 

“Australia has world’s best practice in pathways and preparatory programs for university studies, and this aspect of the recommendations will help cement our competitive advantage in this area,” Mr Connelly said.

 

He urged rapid implementation of the reform package to try to reverse the downward trend in on-shore student numbers.

 

Mr Knight justified special measures to boost overseas student recruitment by universities, rather than by TAFEs or private colleges, on the basis that universities were of “universally high” quality.

 

He also cited the “huge financial stake” of taxpayers in a university sector that had become heavily dependent on fees paid by foreign students.

 

He expressed surprise at the degree of dependence, pointing out that in 2009, about 25 per cent of students at the elite group of eight universities were internationals.

 

Andrew Norton, higher education expert at the Grattan Institute, was troubled by the favouritism shown to universities.

 

“My concern is that this is a big blow to the private higher education sector and the TAFES … and that this will distort the market further,” he said.

 

He said public universities already enjoyed a privileged position in the demand-driven system starting next year.

 

Adrian McComb, from the Council of Private Higher Education, said the “university centric nature” of the Knight report was disappointing.

 

He said this ran counter to the unified system of regulation for higher education, public and private, under the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency.

 

Mr Knight said universities were “not perfect”.

 

He put universities on notice that they would be held accountable for systematic migration abuses by their students or for lower standards.

 

“The financial dependence which universities now have on the fees from international students could create pressure to soften entry standards and assessment standards,” he said.

 

He said his freeing up of student visas would be “quite dangerous” unless immigration officers put new effort into checking that applicants were genuine temporary visitors as well as genuine students.

 

However, Dr Birrell said the guidelines for this new student visa test were “so opaque that it’s almost impossible to apply. I cannot see how [an immigration] officer could possibly implement them.”

 

BY: BERNARD LANE From: The Australian September 23, 2011 12:00AM