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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)