November 15, 2013

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The student visa program enables overseas students to come to Australia to undertake full-time study in registered courses.

When processing applications, the department ensures:

·         transparency in the requirements to be granted a student visa

·         consistency in decision-making

·         integrity of the student visa program by using objective measures of risk to determine visa requirements.

Eligibility

Before applying for a student visa, students must have been accepted for full-time study in a registered course in Australia.

A registered course is an accredited education or training course listed on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) and offered by an Australian education provider registered to offer courses to overseas students.
See:CRICOS

Applying for a student visa

Students must apply for a visa in the sector that relates to their main course of study:

·         Independent English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS) sector (subclass 570) visa

·         Schools sector (subclass 571) visa

·         Vocational Education and Training sector (subclass 572) visa

·         Higher Education sector (subclass 573) visa

·         Postgraduate Research sector (subclass 574) visa

·         Non-award sector (subclass 575) visa

·         AusAID and Defence sector (subclass 576) visa.

Generally, only students subject to Assessment Level 1 or students eligible for streamlined visa processing may be granted their first student visa while they are in Australia. Other students may only be able to obtain their first student visa while they are in Australia under exceptional circumstances.
See: Student Visa Program—Assessment Levels (formerly known as Form 1219i) (144KB PDF file)

Students who already have a student visa to study in Australia, but want to change their main course of study to one in a different education sector must apply for a new student visa in the education sector appropriate to their new main course of study.
See:Applying for a student visa (formerly known as Form 1160i) (128KB PDF file)

Assessment factors and streamlined visa processing

Students must provide evidence to satisfy the assessment criteria that apply to them before they can be granted a student visa. This may include evidence that they have the financial capacity to cover living costs in Australia—tuition fees, travel costs and capacity to support any family members. Applicants must also satisfy criteria for proficiency in English, level of education and other matters such as the potential to breach visa conditions.

The evidence required for these criteria varies according to the student visa applicant’s assessment level. Assessment Level 1 represents the lowest evidentiary requirements and Assessment Level 5 represents the highest.
See: Student Visa Program—Assessment Levels (formerly known as Form 1219i) (144KB PDF file)

Streamlined visa processing is available for prospective international students with a confirmation of enrolment (CoE) from a participating university at bachelor, masters or doctoral degree level. Student visa applicants who are eligible for streamlined visa processing are not subject to assessment levels.
See: The university sector streamlined visa processing( 80KB PDF file)

All students and accompanying family members must meet character and health requirements and obtain overseas student health cover (OSHC) for the duration of their visa. Students from Belgium, Norway and Sweden may not need OSHC if they have acceptable health cover offered by those countries.

Passport holders from certain countries may be entitled to Medicare, however it is still a requirement for overseas students to obtain OSHC for the duration of their stay in Australia while on a student visa.
See:Health insurance for students 

Course packaging

Students may ‘package’ their studies to combine a preliminary course with their main course of study on the one student visa. The subclass that applies to the package would be the one that corresponds to the main course of study. The student’s assessment level is based on the package of courses they are studying.
See: Course packaging

Visa conditions

Permission to work

Students and their dependent family members who were granted a student visa on or after 26 April 2008 have permission to work.
See:New permission to work arrangement for student visa holders(58KB PDF file)

Students and dependent family members who were granted a student visa before 26 April 2008 and have not yet applied for permission to work may only apply for permission to work after they have started their course in Australia.
See:How to apply for permission to work

Students and their dependent family members with permission to work must not undertake work until the main student visa holder has started their course in Australia. They are limited to 40 hours work per fortnight while their course is in session, but may work unlimited hours during formal holiday periods. Holders of a Postgraduate Research (subclass 574) visa who have started their course have unrestricted permission to work.

Student visa holders found to be working in excess of their limited work rights  may be subject to visa cancellation.

Family members’ permission to work

Family members who have permission to work can work up to 40 hours per fortnight once the main student visa holder has started the course of study.

Where students are on a Higher Education (subclass 573) visa, Postgraduate (subclass 574) or AusAID and Defence (subclass 576) visa and have started a masters or doctorate course, any family member who has permission to work can do so for unlimited hours.

No extension of stay

Most Assessment Level 3 and all Assessment Level 4 students (except those in the schools sector) undertaking a course or courses of 10 months duration or less, are subject to a ‘Further Stay Restricted’ condition. This condition generally prevents students from extending their stay in Australia, although they may apply for a Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa or a student visa with permission to work or a student visa with permission to work.

If an Assessment Level 3 student provides evidence of funds to cover a further 12 month stay, the ‘Further Stay Restricted’ condition is no longer mandatory.

Students who are sponsored by the Australian Government, or the government of their home country, may also be subject to a ‘Further Stay Restricted’ condition. They will only be able to extend their studies in Australia if the sponsoring government gives written consent.

Change of address

Students must inform their education provider of their current residential address within seven days of arrival and of any change of address in Australia within seven days of the change. Students must also notify their current provider of any change of enrolment to a new provider.

Family members

Family members aged 18 years or over may only study for up to three months. If they want to undertake a course of study that exceeds three months, they must apply for a student visa in their own right.

School-age family members, children aged 5–18 years, who join the student in Australia for more than three months must attend school. The student must meet any associated education or tuition costs for that child.

A student’s child aged 18 years or over cannot apply for a student visa as a family member. If they want to study in Australia, they must apply for a student visa in their own right.

Student Guardian (subclass 580) visa

Where students are under 18 years of age, it is possible for a parent or relative to apply for a student guardian visa to accompany them to Australia. The student guardian visa allows that person to stay in Australia to care for the student until they turn 18. A student guardian does not have permission to work while in Australia.

Statistics

The student visa program report is a quarterly statistical publication that provides data on the student visa program administered by the department. This report will be a valuable resource for anyone who has an interest in the international student sector.
See:Student visa statistics

Further information for students

The Education Services for Overseas Student Act 2000 provides important safeguards for overseas students in Australia. The Act regulates the activities of education providers delivering education and training to international students by setting standards and providing tuition and financial assurance.
See:Australian Education International

If students choose to work part-time while studying in Australia they have the same work rights as Australian permanent residents and citizens. For more information and advice about conditions of employment in Australia students can contact the Fair Work Ombudsman.
See:Fair Work Ombudsman

Further information is available on the department’s website.
See:www.immi.gov.au

The department also operates a national general enquiries line.
Telephone:131 881
Hours of operation:Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm. Recorded information is available outside these hours.

Fact Sheet 50 – Overseas Students in Australia

Produced by the National Communications Branch, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Canberra.  Last reviewed April 2013.

August 25, 2012

 

USQ Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) student Clare Anthony took advantage of the Tafe pathway by completing a diploma before beginning her degree.

AN initiative developed between the University of Southern Queensland and Tafe Queensland to encourage more students to take up tertiary education has returned promising results.

More than 740 students have already joined USQ after studying at Tafe’s throughout Australia.

It is a 121 percent increase in 2011 and early results indicate an even stronger result for 2012.

The Queensland Tertiary Education Network, established in 2011 is the second initiative of the university, designed to strengthen the connection between industry, the higher education sector and the vocational education and training sector.

QTEPNet project manager Di Paez said the increase in numbers indicated students were taking advantage of new seamless pathways into a university degree from Tafe programs.

“There have been a number of opportunities opened up for prospective students,” Ms Paez said.

“Many Tafe’s now offer dual awards with USQ with the benefit of being able to jointly market courses that give seamless transition into degree programs and expand on the number of articulation pathways that are already in place.”

Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) student Clare Anthony took advantage of the Tafe pathway by completing a Diploma of Events Management at the Bremer Institute of Tafe before beginning her degree.

“On completion, I was able to gain direct entry into a USQ business degree without having to reapply and it took one year off my three year degree,” Ms Anthony said.

“I decided to take this route as I wasn’t certain my OP would make the cut off to go directly into university.

“This way I still only had to complete a three year program, but I have a diploma as well as my degree.

“The Tafe to uni option really suited my situation and worked for me. USQ were extremely supportive and I think it is one of the best pathways to university I know of.

“There is no time wasting and you receive the credit you deserve for the hard work you already put in. If I can do it, than anyone can.”

Now in her final year of study, Ms Anthony said she planned to work as an accountant and continue studying to become a Chartered Accountant.

Source: The Chronicle 23rd August 2012

March 23, 2012

 

The international education sector is one of Australia’s largest export industries and is important to Australia in supporting bilateral ties with key partner countries, supporting employment in a broad range of occupations throughout the Australian economy, as well as delivering high-value skills to the economy.

In December 2010, the Australian Government appointed the Hon Michael Knight AO to conduct the first strategic review of the student visa program to help enhance the quality, integrity and competitiveness of the student visa program.

On 7 March 2011, Mr Knight released a discussion paper and encouraged interested parties to make a written submission to the review.
See: Student Visa Program Review Discussion Paper (212KB PDF file)

There were 200 submissions received and they are available on the department’s website.
See: Submissions Received by the Review Team

Report released

Mr Knight reported to the government on 30 June 2011 with 41 recommendations. On 22 September 2011, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, and Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations, Senator Chris Evans, released Mr Knight’s report, Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program 2011.
See: Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program 2011 (1.7MB PDF file)

Government’s response

The government supports in principle all of Mr Knight’s recommendations, however some recommendations will be modified in places to enhance the performance of the Australian education sector and to better safeguard the integrity of the visa system.
See: Boost to International Education Sector in Response to Knight Review – Media release

The fact sheet on the Government Response to the Knight Review of the Student Visa Program is available on the department’s website.
See: Fact Sheet – Government Response to the Knight Review of the Student Visa Program ( 72KB PDF file)

All of Mr Knight’s recommendations are available, as well as the actual or planned implementation dates.
See: Knight Review of the Student Visa Program—Recommendations with Expected Implementation Date

Stage one implementation

Stage one implementation of the Knight Review changes commenced on 5 November 2011. The following fact sheet details these changes.
See:
Fact Sheet – Stage One Implementation of the Knight Review Changes to the Student Visa program ( 66KB PDF file)
Students to Benefit as Knight Review Changes Rolled Out – Media release

Stage two implementation

The majority of the stage two Knight Review changes commenced on 24 and 26 March 2012. This includes streamlined visa processing for certain university applicants from 24 March 2012. Other stage two Knight Review changes are proposed to commence later in 2012 and in early 2013.
See:
Fact Sheet – Stage Two Implementation of the Knight Review Changes to the Student Visa Program ( 68KB PDF file)
Changes to Boost International Education – Media Release

One of the recommendations agreed to by government is the introduction of new post-study work arrangements, which are planned to come into effect in 2013.

On 30 November 2011, the government announced plans to extend eligibility of the post-study work visa. In addition to university graduates, the new post-study work arrangements are to be extended to Bachelor, Masters by coursework, Masters by research and PhD degree graduates from other education providers accredited to offer degree level programs in Australia.

The government also announced that graduates must complete their qualifications as a result of meeting the Australian study requirement which requires at least two academic years’ study in Australia.
See:
Government Extends Support for International Education – Media Release
Australian Study Requirement

To address recommendation 24 of the Knight Review, the government has recently introduced a Bill into Parliament that proposes to cease the automatic cancellation of student visas. 
See: Improvements for Existing Student Visa Holders ( 76KB PDF file)

Discussion paper on the Review of the Student Visa Assessment Level Framework (Recommendation 32)

Comments on the discussion paper on the Review of the Student Visa Assessment Level Framework closed on 16 March 2012.
See: Discussion Paper on the Review of the Student Visa AL Framework (201KB PDF file)

Frequently asked questions

The following information package provides further detail on the Knight Review changes to the student visa program.
See:
The University Sector – Streamlined Processing ( 88KB PDF file)
Post-Study Work Arrangements ( 75KB PDF file)
Genuine Temporary Entrant Requirement ( 94KB PDF file)
Vocational Education and Training (VET), Schools and Non-Award Sectors ( 87KB PDF file)
English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) Sector ( 76KB PDF file)
Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Sector ( 79KB PDF file)
More Flexible Work Conditions ( 68KB PDF file)
Improvements for Existing Student Visa Holders ( 76KB PDF file)
Visa Processing Improvements ( 75KB PDF file)
Education Visa Consultative Committee (EVCC) ( 49KB PDF file)
Review of Assessment Level Framework ( 62KB PDF file)

See also: 
Review of Assessment Level Framework – Terms of Reference ( 59KB PDF file)
List of External Reference Group Members – Revi
ew of Assessment Level Framework

 

March 23, 2012

 

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, today announced key changes to the student visa program recommended by the Knight Review will commence from 24 March, as part of the government’s commitment to position Australia as a preferred study destination for international students.

‘International education plays a vital role in a growing economy, educational outcomes and Australia’s diplomatic engagement with other countries, so it’s important that we give it the best possible support,’ Mr Bowen said.

‘From 24 March, we are implementing streamlined visa processing arrangements for prospective students enrolled in Bachelor, Masters or Doctoral degrees at participating universities, making the application process simpler and faster.’

In recognition of these institutions’ track record, university students — regardless of their country of origin — will be treated as though they are lower risk and will need to submit less evidence in support of their visa application, similar to the current assessment level (AL) 1.

‘Universities in Australia have embraced the opportunity to sign up to the arrangements, which are expected to help boost international enrolments for semester two 2012 and beyond,’ Mr Bowen said.

From 26 March, the government will provide more flexible work conditions for all student visa holders, which will also provide more flexibility for their employers.

In recognition of the importance of the higher degree by research sector, the government will also allow postgraduate research (subclass 574) visa holders to work an unlimited amount of hours per week once their course has commenced, which will mean they can engage in employment related to their research.

Other Knight Review changes to be implemented from 24 March include:

Improved access to English language study for schools sector visa applicants and for student guardian visa holders

Removal of the requirement for higher risk schools sector visa applicants to provide evidence of an English language proficiency test.

In line with the Knight Review recommendations, the minister today introduced legislation to Parliament to abolish the automatic visa cancellation process for international students.

The Student Legislation Amendment (Student Visas) Bill will reduce complexity and uncertainty for students and provide for fairer, more efficient monitoring and compliance processes.

 

Thursday, 22 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

October 3, 2011

 

Australia’s 39 universities are preparing for a brand new day in 2012: not only will government quotas on the number of local students they enrol be lifted, but they will also be able to recruit as many foreigners as they wish as a result of a new fast-track visa system.

In an unexpectedly generous move that surprised even sceptical vice-chancellors, the federal government decided to lift most restrictions on the issuing of student visas to overseas students applying for a university place, opening the way for a likely flood of new applications from China, India, Pakistan and other Asian countries.

Universities that agree to meet certain requirements regarding the students they admit will also have access to a new streamlined system that will speed up visa processing.

The government’s imposition of tighter visa rules two years ago was a reaction to dodgy college operators using vocational education courses as a front for their clients to obtain permanent residency visas. As tens of thousands of students enrolled in cooking and hairdressing courses in the hope of staying on after completion, a debate began to rage about Australia allowing relatively unskilled migrants with poor English into the country.

The stricter visa rules also applied to applicants seeking university places while, at the same time, the Australian dollar began rising sharply against the US dollar. These changes made obtaining a visa to study here harder and more expensive than in Canada or the US; and as the number of full-fee international students fell sharply, universities suddenly found a significant source of non-government income drying up.

In 2009, the estimated economic benefit to Australia of having nearly 500,000 fee-paying foreign students enrolled in schools, colleges and universities was AUD18 billion (US$18 billion); two years later this had fallen by AUD2 billion.

As vice-chancellor protests became louder, the government appointed a former New South Wales Labor government minister, Michael Knight, to review the situation.

In a 150-page report just released, Knight proposed a series of changes he claimed would boost the competitiveness of Australian universities in the global student marketplace. Although his 41 recommendations apply mostly to universities, the changes effectively give vice-chancellors almost total freedom to recruit as many foreign students as they want.

To the surprise of every higher education lobby group, the government accepted all the recommendations and promised to implement them before the start of second semester next year.

Among the changes expected to improve the attractiveness of Australian higher education is the scrapping of a rule requiring foreign students to prove they have enough money saved to allow them to study in the country for two years.

A student from China, by far Australia’s biggest source of international students, at present must have access to at least AUD100,000 to obtain a visa. From mid-2012, however, students will only need to declare they can afford to pay tuition and living costs. As well, those who graduate with at least a bachelor degree from a university will be able to stay on and work for up to four years and will not be tied to any particular occupation.

“All applicants will still be subject to basic requirements such as having health insurance and not being a security or health risk. And the Department of Immigration will reserve the right to look separately at applications from any group that poses a particular concern,” Knight says in his report.

“However, beyond those basic requirements, [the Department] will effectively take the university’s word that the student is suitable. Therefore universities can be confident their students will have their applications processed quickly.”

But Knight warns that “these substantial benefits” come with significant obligations: universities will be accountable for the visa outcomes of their students. If these outcomes are consistently poor, the university will be removed from the streamlined processing arrangements and prospective students will be processed under the existing rules.

Despite universities being subject to government “checks and balances and integrity measures” before gaining access to the new streamlined visa procedures, critics say the changes will open the doors to a new wave of foreign student workers who, after graduating, will compete with Australians for jobs and add to the thousands already seeking to stay on a permanent residents.

Monash University social scientist and demographer Dr Bob Birrell said past experience showed that thousands of students from poorer families who could not meet the costs of fees and living expenses were now likely to apply for university. Birrell, founder of Monash’s Centre for Population and Urban Research, said the result would be a significant influx of students seeking through a university education to gain access to the Australian labour market.

“We have had repeated examples of this in the past, starting with the English language college debacle of the late 1980s and more recently the vocational college debacle over cooks and hairdressers,” he said. “I’m amazed the Immigration Department has gone along with this because they know what happened in the past.”

Another critic, Peter Holden, said Knight’s decision to confine the changes to universities was against federal government policy, which wanted an integrated tertiary sector with a single regulatory body. “His old-school approach reinforces outdated stereotypes and elitist views of post-secondary education,” Holden said.

“Knight’s reasoning is that if things go off the rails it will be easier for the Department of Immigration to rein in universities because there are only 39 of them. This is not exactly a ringing endorsement of high quality and low risk. As Knight admits, universities are not perfect.”

Holden is director of international engagement for TAFE Directors Australia, the heads of the country’s public technical and further education colleges. Writing in The Australian newspaper’s higher education section, he said one in five students in Australia’s universities was from overseas – among the highest ratios in the world.

“For the whole public vocational education sector, including all qualification levels, the ratio is less than one in 27. In terms of stability, TAFE institutes are equally well-managed with high levels of accountability and transparency.

“The Knight review perpetuates the flawed impression the problem lies within the vocational education and training sector, as though it can be treated as one amorphous whole.”

Source: Geoff Maslen / 02 October 2011 / Issue: 191  /university world news

 

September 28, 2011

 

 

OVERSEAS AID: Visa rules and red tape is being eased to help more foreign students come to Australian universities.

AUSTRALIAN universities will be more attractive to overseas students under new visa rules to be adopted in time for the second semester of 2012, the government says.

The federal government announced on Thursday it will streamline visa processing for students enrolling in Australian universities.

Financial requirements for student visas will be eased, so applicants will need about $36,000 less in their bank account than they do now.

And new post-study work visas will allow students to remain in Australia for two to four years after their course ends, depending on their level of qualification.

But the student visa criteria will be tightened slightly so applicants will have to prove they are genuine students and genuine about returning home.

The changes follow a review of the student visa program led by former NSW government minister Michael Knight and the government has accepted all 41 of his recommendations.

“It’s not enough to be genuine about your studies and have no intention of going home, nor is it enough to be genuine about going home but not serious about your studies,” Mr Knight said.

Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans said the changes would help Australian universities be more competitive in the international market.

“They have articulated for a long time that the visa processes are a barrier to attracting students in an increasingly competitive environment,” he told reporters.

Contrary to perceptions, international student numbers across the education sector had continued to grow in the past year, though providers expected 2012 to be tough.

That was partly because of the old visa system and factors such as the high Australian dollar.

But Senator Evans said the sector’s previous growth rate was unsustainable and could not continue.

“I think we had some of those problems with student welfare because the system had just grown too quickly,” he said.

“This will help put this sector on a very good footing to continue to grow.”

Australian institutions could now compete on the basis of their education offerings and not be hindered by any visa requirements.

Mr Knight said it was important to strike a balance between the economic benefits brought by international students and protecting the integrity of migration controls.

From: AAP September 23, 2011 12:00AM