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

March 9, 2012

 

INTERNATIONAL students comprise over a quarter of onshore enrolments at half of the Group of Eight, while one in three students at highly ranked Macquarie University is from overseas, a new Australian Education International report has found.

The AEI snapshot suggests Australia’s elite universities are heavily reliant on fragile overseas markets, with international students representing around 27 per cent of enrolments at Melbourne, ANU, UNSW and Adelaide.

The DEEWR-sourced data shows that the proportion of international students at all Go8 institutions apart from the University of Western Australia is above the national average of 22.3 per cent.

But international education researcher Alan Olsen said this was a reasonable average, and it was no surprise Go8 institutions were above it.

“An aggregate 22.3 per cent is appropriate for Australia, where 22.2 per cent of us were born overseas and 21.5 per cent speak a language other than English at home,” Mr Olsen said.

Mr Olsen said only around 8 per cent of people in the UK were born overseas, and about 12 per cent in the US.

A separate AEI report last month found that Australia’s proportion of international tertiary enrolments was more than three times the OECD average of 6.7 per cent, and six times the US average of 3.4 per cent.

But it found international students in the US were concentrated in about 25 highly ranked institutions, with two – Columbia and the University of Southern California – experiencing international proportions above the Australian average.

The international proportion of enrolments was 22.1 per cent at Stanford, 20 per cent at Cornell, 19.9 per cent at Georgia Institute of Technology and 18.4 per cent at Harvard, it added.

But these figures pale compared to some Australian universities, with the dual-sector University of Ballarat leading the pack at 47.7 per cent, followed by private Bond University at 40.5 per cent.

Ballarat has about 5600 domestic students and 5100 international students, according to the new AEI figures.

But Ballarat vice-chancellor David Battersby said the figures were “disingenuous” because they didn’t differentiate between dual-sector and standalone universities.

“They create a false impression about what a dual-sector university is, suggesting some sort of line in the sand between our higher education and VET students,” he said.

“That’s not the case – we have integrated schools. Why would they want to make the dual-sectors invisible in all this?”

Professor Battersby said Ballarat had a total of about 17,000 domestic students and an international proportion of about 22 per cent.

The AEI figures reveal above average international proportions at the other three Victorian dual-sectors – 32.8 per cent at Swinburne, 29.3 per cent at RMIT and 23.8 per cent at VU.

A DEEWR spokesperson said AEI had used information supplied by universities. “This ensures comparable data for all institutions,” he said.

“The table compares onshore international and domestic higher education students. [No] VET students were included for any university.”

Professor Battersby said most of Ballarat’s international students were with longstanding partners.

“While there has been a decline in our overall number of international students, our partner provider model has proven to be resilient,” he said.

Meanwhile, draft legislation for the tuition protection service – the new consumer protection facility for overseas students recommended by the Baird review – suggests universities will be required to sign up.

Universities and TAFEs have been exempted from paying fees to the existing ESOS Assurance Fund, and universities had lobbied for the arrangement to continue.

But Professor Battersby said the TPS needed to be seen as part of “a big package of arrangements” for international students including the Knight Review student visa reforms as well as changes stemming from the Baird Review.

Source : Australian