The ministers also unveiled a package of measures to simplify Australia’s student visa risk management systems and bring requirements “more in line with competitor countries”, also including reappraising financial criteria students must meet to gain a student visa.
Since March 2012, SVP has successfully been available to students who apply to participating universities. They are treated as low-risk immigration applicants regardless of their country of origin and have to provide less evidence of funding or previous study.
“Only limited detail is available on how the government has come up with a list of just 22 providers”
The ministers announced that in the first week of November, invitations to participate in SVP will be sent to 22 “low-risk” non-university providers that enrol students in Bachelor, Masters or Doctoral degree courses or an eligible exchange programme. Further details will not be released because of commercial sensitivity.
According to Pyne, the extension will benefit VET providers especially. “These changes would allow the vocational training sector to contribute more freely to our plan to restore Australia’s tertiary education system to its former peak of almost $19 billion in export income for the nation,” he said in a statement.
“The non-university education system supports thousands of Australian jobs directly, and indirectly,” he said.
“If we cut red tape and allow more students into Australia to access a world-class tertiary education we all stand to gain.”
Private providers, however, say they are disappointed that SVP will not be extended to more institutions. “Only limited detail is available on how the government has come up with a list of just 22 providers,” said Ben Ben Vivekanandan, Acting CEO of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET).
“We believe that transparency is paramount so the sector can understand how these 22 providers were judged to be low-risk, while some 70 odd other CRICOS registered higher education providers and hundreds of CRICOS registered VET providers did not make the cut.”
The plans are outlined in the Review of the Student Visa Assessment Level Framework that was initiated as a result of the Knight Review in 2010 but was shelved by the previous government.
In it, the government also explains measures it will take to eliminate two of the five existing assessment levels (AL) introduced in 2001 to identify risk among international student visa applicants.
EA says it will continue to discuss the need for further changes, including a review of the implementation of the Genuine Temporary Entrant criteria
A student’s AL is determined by the country they come from, the level of education they are seeking and the institution they are applying to attend. The amount of evidence required increases with a student’s AL including proof of access to sufficient funds, English language proficiency and previous study.
The review found that the highest risk level AL 5 should be eliminated because it had never been used along with AL 4 as the financial evidence required had evolved to be closely aligned with that for AL 3.
All AL3 students will now be required to show funds for up to 12 months of stay in Australia, reduced from 18, allowing them to apply for a student visa with up to $AUD 40,000 less in the bank.
Sue Blundell, director of ELICOS peak body English Australia (EA), who was on the reference group for the review, said she is “pleased to finally see some of the positive recommendations of this report finally see daylight and implementation by the new government”.
However, EA says it will continue to discuss the need for further changes to the student visa program, including a review of the implementation of the Genuine Temporary Entrant criteria and the removal of the recently introduced Subsequent Temporary Application charge.
I wonder why you say SVP will be extended to 22 PRIVATE providers? Do you know something that we don’t? There are 5 public TAFE providers in Victoria (and others elsewhere) which offer degree programs. I expect they will be part of the 22 for whom SVP is extended.