Australia begins drive for more overseas students

Australia’s Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison, along with the Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, have announced a new package of measures that would simplify the process of applying for student visas.

Sydney Harbour and Opera HouseThe measures will lead to a streamlined assessment-level framework (ALF) and extend streamlined visa processing arrangements to low-risk non-university degree providers – meaning more institutions will soon be able to accept overseas student.

The ALF is used to determine and manage the immigration risk posed by Student visa applicants according to their country and education sector. There are currently five risk tiers within the ALF which impose greater visa and financial requirements on applicants as the level of risk increases.

“The changes will assist all [education] providers, but particularly the vocational education and training sector, making access to Australia’s education system more attractive for overseas students,” explained Minister Morrison.

“Assessment levels under the ALF would be reduced from five levels to three, while financial evidence for AL3 students would reduce from 18 months to 12 months, provided funds were from a close relative of the student applicant.”

The Minister said that the streamlining of the visa application process would benefit up to 22 low-risk non-university providers for students enrolled in Bachelor, Masters or Doctoral degree courses or an eligible exchange programme.

Minister Pyne, meanwhile, said the measures would attract more overseas students to Australia, benefit the country’s education system, create Australian jobs and stimulate the economy.

“The non-university sector is an important contributor to our overall education exports,” Mr Pyne said. “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 AUS$19 billion in export income for the nation.”

He continued: “The non-university education system supports thousands of Australian jobs directly, and indirectly. “If we cut red tape and allow more students into Australia to access a world-class tertiary education we all stand to gain.”

During a speech earlier this month Minister Pyne made clear that one of his priorities over the coming months would be to “repair” international student recruitment and cut red tape.

International student arrivals to Australia have fallen by around 20 per cent in recent years, and Mr Pyne said he would look at streamlining the visa process and increasing post-study work rights.

It is hoped that the government will implement both elements of the package in early 2014.

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