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Australia: SVP not so streamlined, say agents

Education agents have spoken out against Australia’s Streamlined Visa Processing system, saying it is neither faster nor more dependable for visa issuance. They have cautiously welcomed the recent announcement that the system will be scrapped starting next year but say it’s too early to tell if it will be an improvement.

The old and new parliament houses in Canberra, Australia. Photo: Simon Yeo.

“We lost hundreds of students who came here legitimately and were recruited onshore by fairly dodgy agents”

SVP was introduced in 2012, aiming to streamline visa processing by requiring students applying to designated low-risk universities to provide less evidence of funding or previous study.

However, stakeholders have said that it has created a have and have not culture in Australian education and has failed to prevent illegal course-hopping.

“This has resulted in more layers of SVP system and each education provider has interpreted the SVP and GTE criteria as per their description”

“In principal, the SVP is a good system and has brought many positive changes in the last couple of years in the Indian market,” Rahul Gandhi, president of the Association of Australian Education Representatives in India, told The PIE News.

However, he explained that using Genuine Temporary Entrant criteria to assess students for visas requires education agents to vet applicants, while the Department of Immigration and Border Protection can also request additional evidence from applicants at its discretion.

“This has resulted in more layers of SVP system and each education provider has interpreted the SVP and GTE criteria as per their description,” he said.

“This has resulted in slower admission and visa processes.”

Rahmi Mesud Yilmaz, director for Atlas Private Educational Services, one of Turkey’s largest education agencies, agreed.

“In practice, number one, the turnover time is not shorter in Turkey; number two, the visa rejection rate is the same,” he told The PIE News. “SVP is just an extra hassle, it doesn’t add any value to us.”

There is also the question of course-hopping– when students enrol at an SVP education institution then transfer to a non-SVP (often cheaper) provider onshore, rather than returning home to re-apply, as they are legally required to.

Explaining course-hopping, Mark Lucas, director of global administration at business development at Korea-based agency, iae GLOBAL Network said: “Often with the countries they’re coming from, if they had applied for the visa offshore for that vocational college, they would not have been accepted.”

Gandhi said AAERI alerted the Department of Immigration and Border Protection of course hopping in November 2013, and early last year the government sent out more than 1,400 letters warning students they had breached their visa conditions by transferring to non-SVP providers.

“Number one, the turnover time is not shorter in Turkey; number two, the visa rejection rate is the same”

The government also launched a social media campaign to discourage course-hopping.

However, it has failed to ensure that legal procedures rein in abuse of the system, Lucas said.

“We even had [students] who were being accepted and given new visas by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection without getting a letter of release from the original institution, which technically is not possible.”

“Most students are not coming here with the idea they’re going to cheat SVP,” he added, but explained that they are often convinced by the prospect of moving to a cheaper institution with lax oversight that would enable them to work.

As a consequence, if a student transfers half way through the year, the agent will lose half their commission, which is usually paid in semesterly instalments.

“We lost hundreds of students who came here legitimately and were recruited onshore by fairly dodgy agents,” Lucas said. “It affected our reputation but we didn’t lose them; the institutions let them go.”

Until the government releases further details of the new system requirements it would be difficult to predict whether it will resolve these issues, Lucas and Yilmaz agreed.

Gandhi added that GTE criteria will determine the success of the new system.

He also noted that the new system attempts to level the playing field of providers, as institutions may be negatively affected by being known for not having rights to SVP.

However, he added: “I am of the view that the processes will continue to differ based on the Assessment level of the institutions and the problem that DIBP will face will be to somehow communicate the GTE requirements to the student and agents without disclosing as to what is the assessment level of the institutions.”

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5 Responses to Australia: SVP not so streamlined, say agents

  1. Universities like Curtin, ECU etc. must be removed from SVP provider list as these universities have failed to enrol genuine students in most instances. Many students enrolled in these universities do not want to study there because of the higher fees and inability of the students to cope with the level of study required at a degree levels.

    VET institutions offering courses up to Diploma level are not included in SVP to favour dodgy public universities and TAFEs. Why would these universities enrol students to do no wish to study or are not fit to study at Advanced Diploma, Bachelors or Masters level courses.

    Moreover, many private providers have been able to sign SVP provider arrangements with Universities just because of personal/professional networks rather than based on merit.

  2. I agree with all the agents above. There are a lot of loopholes in the SVP system. If it was a foolproof system then a lot of students who did not come from a strong financial background would not have secured visa. These are the kind of students who want to move to non-SVP institutions.
    There is a need of simple rules such as – students with a certain financial background should qualify for visa, fees once paid should be non-refundable (except in case of visa refusal) and students should not be allowed to change their institution in Australia.
    There is nothing new under Genuine Temporary Entrant. I have worked with one of the top agents for more than 10 years (2000-2011) and it was a practice to assess students on the criteria now mentioned under GTE. It is a fancy name given to the practice already followed for so many years.
    I agree with Mr Gandhi and Mr Lucas that the current system has created more hassles for the genuine agents.
    It is better that the old system is reinstated with the above 3 rules suggested.

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