In March the Australian government began implementing key changes to the student visa program as recommended by the Knight Review.
Since March 24 a streamlined visa processing arrangement has been available for prospective students enrolled in Bachelor, Masters or Doctoral degrees at participating universities. The new service puts the onus on universities to guarantee the credentials of prospective international students, in-turn making the application process simpler and faster.
“In recognition of these institutions’ track record, university students – regardless of their country of origin – will be treated as though they are lower risk and will need to submit less evidence in support of their visa application, similar to the current assessment level (AL) 1,” said Australian
Minister for Citizenship and Immigration, Mr Chris Bowen.
The move is in line with the Australian government’s commitment to position Australia as a preferred study destination for international students.
Mr Bowen said international education played a vital role in growing the economy, educational outcomes and Australia’s diplomatic engagement with other countries, “so it’s important that we give it the best possible support,” Mr Bowen said.
From March 26, the Government also introduced more flexible work conditions for all student visa holders, allowing greater flexibility for their employers – including the introduction of a two-year postgraduate work visa and in recognition of the importance of the higher degree by research sector, postgraduate research (subclass 574) visa holders will be eligible to work an unlimited amount of hours per week once their course has commenced. ■
Other Knight Review changes implemented from March 24 include:
· Improved access to English language study for schools sector visa applicants and for student guardian visa holders; and
· Removal of the requirement for higher risk schools sector visa applicants to provide evidence of an English language proficiency test.