“A review should involve consultation with stakeholders rather than just the government reviewing itself”
The GTE has faced some opposition from the sector, with Ben Vivekanandan, General Manager for Policy Research at the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) calling it a “contentious barrier to studying in Australia”.
Under the current system, international students must be assessed as genuine temporary entrants before being awarded a visa.
The report issued following the review concluded that there are “no systemic problems” in how GTE requirement decisions are made.
“DIBP remains confident that decisions continue to be of a high standard,” it states.
However, English Australia, which represents more than 100 member colleges, issued a statement disputing the findings.
“[The report] contradicts the ongoing feedback that English Australia continues to receive from education providers as exemplified by visa rejection letters which continue to display a lack of understanding of the complex nature of the international education industry,” it contended.
A letter signed by eight peak industry bodies was submitted to Michaelia Cash, Assistant Minister of Immigration and Border Protection, requesting that the document be treated as a discussion paper for further consultation.
The letter outlines the organisations’ “surprise and concern” upon being told that the review had been finalised and endorsed.
“While we have long called for a review of the GTE, it has always been our understanding that such a review would, of necessity, include consultation with relevant stakeholders and affected parties,” it read.
Phil Honeywood, National Executive Director of the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA), told The PIE News that he penned the letter “to say that a review should involve consultation with stakeholders rather than just the government reviewing itself”.
“We weren’t happy with the review but we’re happy that the department has responded over the last two years to our concerns,” he added.
Following the appeal, English Australia, which said that it was “extremely concerned” by the manner in which the document was released and by its conclusions, has been formally invited to provide comment.
The GTE has raised concerns in the sector since 2012. In an article on The PIE News nearly two years ago, one college was reported as saying, “GTE provides Immigration officers with a structure to subjectively reject visa applications. These rejections cannot be challenged, therefore, there is no accountability to clients for decisions made.”