In a complete policy mis-match to the UK, which is restricting access to the employment market for international students in the country, Australia will enable all international graduates to stay and work in the country for two years (up to three years for Masters and four years for PhD students). The Knight review stated, “The scheme must be one which can be marketed by the universities to prospective students as almost guaranteeing post-study work rights.”
It will classify all Bachelor-level university students as low-risk, regardless of their country of origin, speeding up visa issuance for them. Similar changes in the (more problematic) vocational sector will be a longer time coming, with a second review for this sector now underway. Notably, this low-risk status will also apply to pathway students who enrol on a course “explicitly packaged with an eligible university course”.
Australia is also revising its expectations regarding financial backing
And Australia is also revising its expectations regarding financial backing, and, in the case of English language students, any proven English language ability prior to application to study. Sue Blundell, Executive Director at English Australia, said the association was delighted that the goverment had listened to its recommendations. “English Australia put this reform at the centre of our submission to the Review and we are delighted that the government has accepted it. Today’s announcement is an enormous boost for the Elicos sector.”
Senator Chris Bowen, Minister for Immigration, said, “Our consultations found that the financial requirements for Student Visas were too onerous, so we are reducing the financial requirements for some applicants, with students now needing around AUS$36,000 less in the bank when applying for a visa.”
The PIE previously reported that financial requirements were one policy area that education agents had asked to be revised, as well as rules for and better government liaison with education agencies. This is being addressed somewhat: Recommendation 33 states that the Immigration department must “upgrade its liaison at overseas posts with migration and education agents in relation to the student visa program, including regular meetings to keep agents abreast of any changes in rules and procedures”.
Senator Chris Evans, Minister for Tertiary Education, who jointly announced the official response to the Knight Review, said, “Our international education sector is world class, and the reforms announced today will help entrench Australia as a preferred destination for international students. The reforms will offer practical support for international education providers that have been under pressure as a result of the high Australian dollar.’
The mandatory cancellation of Student Visa status for visa holders registering unsatisfactory attendance, unsatisfactory progress or working more than allowed will also be revoked, giving immigration officers “the discretion to determine cancellation in particular cases on their merits”.