A report, commissioned by the Australian Government, in an attempt to make a sustainable program which will balance Australia's economic interests, educational interests and migration interests, was today released. The review was conducted by former Sydney Olympics Minister Michael Knight.
The Knight Review has recommended various changes in order to streamline the processing of student visas and introduce greater post study work opportunities for students following completion of a degree from an Australian University.
The international education sector is substantial and important. It grew rapidly over the last decade. At its peak in 2009 there were 491,565 international students enrolled in courses in Australia. But a combination of factors such as increased global competition, changes to Australian migration policy and a strong Australian dollar have contributed to a dramatic decrease in the numbers of students choosing as Australia as a study destination, particular students from India.
As a result of the review, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, announced changes to the visa processing arrangements for a range of Australian University bachelors, masters and research degrees. He indicated that the new processing changes “for faster, easier visa access for prospective students in time for second semester next year”.
Among the 41 recommendations in the report, the introduction of a two- to four-year post-study work visa for foreign university graduatesshould prove to be particularly appealing to Indian students. All of the 41 recommendations were this morning accepted by the Australian Government.
The recommendations in this report apply only to courses at Australian Universities, with vocational training colleges (including TAFE’s) will have to wait on a second review, scheduled next year, before they see major changes to visa processing arrangements for their own international students.
The new rules will have an entry criterion to ensure that a successful applicant must be both a genuine temporary entrant and a genuine student.
Welcoming the recommendations, Dr. Fiona Richards, COO, Oceanic Consultants said, “These changes look to re-open the doors for genuine students to study at an Australian University, and take advantage of gaining practical experience in Australia following their studies through the work rights”.She does though caution students, “ensure you are seeking advice from a reputable international education consultant and make sure you are choosing a study pathway that meets your long term career aspirations”.
Key recommendations include:
Students applying to bachelors, masters and research courses will be treated in the lowest risk category (Assessment Level 1) regardless of their country of origin.
Students applying for ELICOS and/or Diploma packaged with a bachelors course will be assessed at Assessment Level 1.
Assessment Level 1 applicants must meet the financial requirements which are to “give a declaration that they have access to funds for the full period of their study to cover course fees, living costs, dependent costs and travel". For many students this is a significant easing of the current evidenciary fund requirement.
Assessment Level 1 applicants must satisfy the Universities’ English language entry requirements, but not DIAC’s current English language requirements
Study work rights: Coursework students are permitted to work 40 hours per fortnight; Research higher degree students have unlimited work rights.
Post study work rights: Bachelor degree graduates who have studied for at least two years and completed the degree in Australia will get two years post study work rights.
Post study work rights: Masters by Coursework graduates who have studied and completed that degree in Australia will have two years post study work rights.
Post study work rights: Master by Research graduates will have three years post study work rights; PhD graduates will have four year post study work rights.
Post study work rights apply irrespective of the nature of the course completed and are not tied to working in any profession.
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