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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Australian Visa gets Stricter

Australia introduces stricter student visa regulations




THE Australian government will introduce stricter visa regulations for Indian students from September 1, 2008. Further, the new regulations classify Indian postgraduate research students as level 4 or high risk. India is the only country in the world apart from Nigeria, to fall under this category. 
   The rule change is based on data collected from over four years. According to Lyn Reitano, principal migration officer, Australian High Commission, New Delhi, the data included the outcome of every student visa holder during the period concerned. “The data shows a long-term negative trend in immigration compliance of Indian nationals studying the English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS), higher education and postgraduate research sectors,” said Reitano. 
   Data from the Australian High Commission shows that there were 47,000 Indian students who were granted a visa between June 2007 and July 2008. Out of these 34,150 students were studying in the higher education sector, 424 were studying in the postgraduate and research sector and 106 went to study English language courses (ELICOS). 
   Ravi Lochan Singh, president, Association of Australian Education Representatives in India, a body set up by Australian Education International that has received support of the Australian government, felt that the changes would affect genuine students. He acknowledged that some students who had applied for visas to pursue degree programmes eventually opted for diplomas once they arrived in Australia or left after completing the diplomas in their packaged programmes. However, he pointed out: “This could have been handled by other means. There is also need for stronger compliance on the part of education providers in Sydney and Melbourne. When we have so many students in Australia, there will be many who have migration in mind.” 


Australia follows an assessment level for granting visas ranging from level one (easiest) to level 5 (most difficult). At present, there is no country classified as level 5. “Assessment levels reveal how difficult and rigorous the visa screening process is going to be,” informed Karan Gupta, a foreign education counsellor based in Mumbai. 
   India, so far, had been considered as high risk (level 4) for diplomas and moderate risk (level 3) for degrees and research/PhDs. However, the new rules would require Indian students to show more documentation. “In order to be granted a visa, students will be required to meet requirements around financial capacity, English language proficiency and educational qualifications,” stated Reitano. 
   Gupta believes these changes will make the visa process harder and more cumbersome. “Make sure that you show all your papers when lodging an application as the chances of your visa being denied will also increase,” he advised. On the other hand, Reitano stated that the Australian government still expected “large numbers of Indian students to receive visas to study in Australia.” 


Agents and education counsellors expect a decrease in the number of Indian students applying to Australia. “We expect that the total number of Indian students going to Australia will drop by at least 40%,” stated Singh. He added that students applying to better-known universities, such as the Group of Eight (G8) universities, would be affected most. 
   Bangladesh, for example, was classified as a ‘level 4’ country last year. Speaking about the country's experience, Shamim Hossain, CEO of a major education agency in Dhaka, said there was a “60% drop across all sectors.” He added: “Only a fraction of the population can show the required funding of 20,000 to 96,000 Australian dollars required for the courses (AUD1 = Rs 38 approx). On top of that, sponsors also needed to prove their monthly income.” 


Universities in Australia chose to remain tight-lipped over the rule change. Most did not respond to emails from Education Times while RMIT University in Melbourne stated that it was unable to comment. “We have not received any official announcement of this change from immigration,” said Avanti Redkar Sachdeva, regional market coordinator, RMIT University. 
   One private institute in Australia's east, however, had urged all agents to process applications before September 1 to ensure maximum enrolment.




Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group


1 comment:

  1. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.

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