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

November 9, 2011

Australia  will be able to accept test scores from the alternative English language tests for Student visa applications for all countries lodged on or after 5 November 2011. In addition to IELTS test, the  acceptable alternative tests are:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL),
  • The Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic and
  • Academic and Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) from Cambridge ESOL for Student visa purposes.

 

All arrangements relating to IELTS test scores remain unchanged.  The TOEFL iBT, Pearson and Cambridge tests are simply alternatives to the IELTS test for Student visa purposes.  Implementing these alternative tests means Student visa applicants who are required to provide evidence of their English language proficiency will be able to choose from a wider range of English language tests providers.

Paper and eVisa application forms for Student visa applications have been updated to allow you to provide details about which English language test you take, and the results you received.

You must also provide the department with evidence of the test score you received.  The type of evidence you provide will depend on which English language test you take.  Your score will be verified by the department with the test provider.

Applicant may be required to provide additional information to allow the department to verify your English language test score with the test provider.  Please refer to each English language test provider’s website to confirm whether you will also be provided with a unique identifying code.  If you are provided with this code, you will need to provide it to the department.  To avoid delays in processing your application, you should provide the department with evidence of your test score as soon as possible.

The alternative English language tests will apply to Student visa applications:

  • lodged but not decided by 5 November 2011
  • lodged on or after 5 November 2011.

The Migration Regulations 1994 state that an English language proficiency test score is valid for two years from the date of the test.  If an applicant takes an English language proficiency test from one of the alternative providers before 5 November 2011 and achieves the required score, then they will be able to meet the English language requirement for their Student visa application.

Test score equivalencies for the alternative tests are provided below:

 

IELTS SCORE Band

4.0

4.5

5.0

5.5

6.0

6.5

7.0

7.5

8.0

8.5

9.0

Test of English as a Foreign Language internet based Test  (TOEFL iBT)

31

32

35

46

60

79

94

102

110

115

118

 

PTE Academic

29

30

36

42

50

58

65

73

79

83

86

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) from Cambridge ESOL test scores

32

36

41

47

52

58

67

74

80

87

93

 

The alternative English language tests only apply to Student visa applications at this stage.  The department will be reviewing the alternative tests for use with other visa program after 12 months of operation.

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