The Australian federal government has announced changes to its student visa system that could make it easier for private colleges to benefit from the international student business.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne and Michaelia Cash, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection announced the formation of the Simplified Student Visa Framework. The model will reduce the number of types of student visas from 8 to 2. In addition, it will create an easy to follow immigration risk framework for use by all international students based on the students’ country of origin as well as the immigration compliance record of other students who had studied at the institution in question, writes Tim Dodd for Financial Review.
“The SSVF will support the growth of the international education sector by enhancing both competitiveness and integrity while extending streamlined processing to all education sectors and all course types,” Cash said. “SVP served a very good purpose but it is now time to implement a broader, simpler, fairer framework.”
The current SVP model is set to expire in the middle of 2016, at which point the new model will be introduced. Currently, only universities and a select few private education providers are allowed access to the streamlined visa process. Most were required to use a separate risk assessment system, which many students found to be difficult to understand.
Many stakeholders across the industry approve of the new system, especially those who were excluded from the current list.
“This new model will achieve greater equity in student visa arrangements, and delivers benefits to a broader range of education institutions, including VET providers,” said Assistant Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham.
Rod Camm, CEO of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training, agreed, saying that the current visa system in the country was so complex that many private colleges would spend more time explaining it to prospective students at education fairs rather than talking about the quality of education at their institutions.
International education exports in the country continue to rise, with an 11.2% increase in the number of international students onshore as of April of last year. In the first three months, 22.5% of total enrollments were due to the VET sector.
“Our strong growth confirms the quality of Australia’s tertiary education and VET sectors and shows recent policy changes by the Abbott Government are helping to make Australia an increasingly popular destination for overseas students,” commented Birmingham.