International student visa applications to get easier

THE Australian government has announced a host of new changes to the Student Visa Program in a bid to boost international student enrollments.

By mid-2012, the government will implement recommendations made by the Hon Michael Knight AO in the Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program 2011 including:

  • lowered financial requirements for international student applicants. Students will no longer need to show they have more than $75,000 in their bank accounts.
  • the removal of differing levels of risk according to an applicants host country. All applicants will now be viewed as low risk, regardless of where they’re from.
  • lowered English language requirements for English language students.
  • the option of  applying for a two-to-four-year postgraduate study work visa or the existing Temporary Skilled 457 visa and Skilled Graduated Visa.
  • a repeal of the automatic cancellation and mandatory cancellation provisions that exist in current student visas.

Australian Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations Chris Evans said the changes will make Australia more appealing as a study destination.

“Our international education sector is world class, and the reforms announced today will help entrench Australia as a preferred destination for international students,” he said.

He said the post-graduate working visas being offered will also be beneficial to international students.

“Students are increasingly looking to augment their studies with graduate work experience and this further post-study work visa option will offer university students a more complete study experience in Australia,” he said.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis said the announcement was a welcome show of support for international education in Australia.

“The Knight Review and the Government response will go a long way to restoring confidence and stability to our higher education sector, ensuring that Australia remains a leading destination for students internationally,” Professor Davis said.

“International students make a significant contribution to university life, and indeed to Australia’s economy, culture and society. The recent downturn has shown international education to be resilient, but by no means immune to local and global challenges.

The  changes… provide practical and responsible measures to smooth the path for international students to study in Australia.”

But international student Alison Qin is unsure if students will actually be able to benefit from these visas.

“The reality is most employers are reluctant to hire people on temporary visas. They think you’ll leave after you train them. It’s been really hard for my friends who don’t have permanent residency to find a proper job because the basic criteria is that you have to be Australian or have permanent residency,” she says.

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