In an email seen by The PIE News, Edith Cowan University said to agents that the reason for the suspension was an increase in the number of visa refusals from these regions, as well as concerns raised regarding students’ academic progress.
“We want to take the necessary precautions to protect the interests of genuine students,” the email said, which was sent on February 14 this year.
Applications via ECU’s on-campus pathway provider, Edith Cowan College, have also been suspended.
“We want to take the necessary precautions to protect the interests of genuine students”
Other changes at ECU include the enforcement of a 300-word requirement for the statement of purpose for all courses to ensure students can show they have “genuine intentions” to study and to comply with immigration requirements.
ECU will be increasing financial checks for all students from India and will be verifying the authenticity of their financial statements to ensure that they have the necessary funds to support their studies at the institution.
“Furthermore, we will not be accepting ‘cash’ salaries as acceptable sources of funds. We require that students provide us with verifiable proof of income to ensure that they have the necessary funds to support their studies,” the email to the agents said.
In the past, Indian students have used unscrupulous lenders to finance their studies abroad, putting themselves under serious financial pressure – something ECU’s new measures will likely help to address.
In another move to enhance ECU’s GTE screening process, video interviews will be introduced as part of the application process.
“Edith Cowan University is a quality driven institution with settings in place that attract quality students from around the world who thrive and succeed with our university,” Edith Cowan University deputy vice chancellor and vice-president (International), Jake Garman told The PIE.
“We foster and maintain highly effective working relationships with numerous agents in India, as we do in countries across the globe.
“We foster and maintain highly effective working relationships with numerous agents in India”
“Part of ECU’s commitment to ensuring all our agents are providing the highest quality service for our potential students, is our rigorous monitoring of shifts and trends in the international student marketplace that could impact on the quality of that service.”
Garman said that GTE requirements are live and proactive with ECU strategies in place to protect the integrity of the application process for the benefit of the institution’s agent partnership network and the potential students wanting to join the university.
“ECU recently held a comprehensive Webinar for ECU Education Agents in India to provide a dedicated opportunity for our agents to understand the details of GTE changes,” Garman added.
Last year Australia’s immigration department became aware of fraudulent student visa applications submitted via agents from some regions of India, which exacerbated the country’s visa backlog crisis at the time.
One Indian agent told The Indian Express newspaper in June 2022, that the DHA detected approximately 600 fraud cases from the Haryana and Punjab regions – the same regions that ECU has suspended undergraduate recruitment from.
In July last year, Catriona Jackson, chief executive of Universities Australia, told The PIE that her organisation was aware of the matter and understood it to be occurring across all educational sectors, not just Australia’s universities.
And in November 2022, Phil Honeywood, CEO of the International Education Association of Australia, told The PIE that visa fraud in the country was a “concern, particularly out of Nepal and three states in India”.
Immigration data showed at the time that visa approvals from India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka for student visas plummeted, with vocational education applicants particularly affected.
Honeywood told The PIE that the Australian Home Affairs department “reacted swiftly” to visa fraud concerns and “student visa approvals have been averaging only 9% out of Nepal for the past several months”.
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