Foreign students put off by high costs

Foreign students put off by high costs

High university fees and the hefty cost of living in Australia were the reason almost half a survey group of would-be international students decided not to come to the country.

QS Enrolment Solutions, a global company that surveys student opinions, said of more than 3000 international students who wanted to come to Australia in 2017 but ended up not doing so, more than half said they they couldn’t afford the fees.

 

For more info click on this link below :

https://www.afr.com/news/policy/education/foreign-students-put-off-by-high-costs-20180909-h154io

Is Canada a viable option for applicants struggling to get PR in Australia?

 

Following the recent changes to Australia’s visa system, there are many skilled migrants who are struggling to get Permanent Residency (PR) in Australia. But can immigration to Canada be an option for these applicants?

If you are a skilled worker with the right experience, skills and background, you may be able to make Canada your permanent home through its Express Entry Program.

Like Australia, Canada’s skilled migration program is also a points-based system which is designed to attract highly qualified and experienced professionals to best meet its skills needs.

Following the recent changes to Australia’s visa system, there are many skilled migrants who are struggling to salvage their dream of becoming Australian permanent residents*.

Migration experts believe the ‘visa changes’ have adversely affected the chances of these applicants in the skilled visa categories.

Many applicants who are struggling to meet the desired standards for PR in Australia now aim to move to Canada. But is Canada a viable option for these applicants?

A migration agent in Melbourne says many of his clients are worried due to these changes.

“The visa sector has seen huge changes in the last two years. Some of our clients are now extremely distressed about their prospects in Australia and aim to apply for Canada in high hopes,” he told .

“We’ve seen an impact due to the changes to the skilled occupation lists and state nomination criteria. Some applicants also had their hopes shattered due to the abolition of 457 visas and more recently, due to an increase in points threshold from 60 to 65 for skilled visas.”

He suggested that Canada’s skilled migration program is quite similar to Australia.

“There is not much difference in terms of the point system designed for various skill subsets, job experience and the English language capacity of the prospective applicant,” he says.

“But there are certain occupations that are in high demand where applicants can or may benefit from Canada’s Express Entry program.

“For an example, the transport industry is in a booming stage in Canada so potentially experienced truck drivers should explore this promising opportunity.”

Australia can be a bigger country’: Scott Morrison’s new Population Minister reveals he DOESN’T want to reduce immigration

Australia can be a bigger country’: Scott Morrison’s new Population Minister reveals he DOESN’T want to reduce immigration

Scott Morrison’s new Population Minister reveals he DOESN’T want to reduce immigration
New Minster for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population Alan Tudge has outlined his plan for immigration policy which focuses on a ‘bigger Australia’ with more decentralised population areas.

‘My view has always been that Australia can be a bigger country. But ideally you have a broader distribution rather than very rapid growth in some areas,’ Mr Tudge told.

New Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Mr Tudge are shifting the focus away from reductions to immigrant numbers and towards a redistribution of where they are settled.

Mr Tudge has said that he is in favour of population growth, however, the areas where new immigrants are settled must be broader and not focused in major cities like Sydney and Melbourne

‘I’m not suggesting that for a second that it’s migrants’ fault – not at all,’ he said.

‘If you’ve got regions that can’t find workers and smaller states that want more people, then the immigration program is something that should be looked at.’

He did, however, not comment on a specific plan that would require new migrants to settle in regional areas for five years as a condition of their visas.

A decision on the time period for mandatory settlement was due to go to the Turnbull cabinet last week, but the leadership spill put that discussion on hold, The Australian reported on Wednesday.

The proposal has yet to be put to Scott Morrison’s new cabinet, and the prime minister’s office would not comment on the development of the policy.

It is understood a new visa class would apply to the skilled and family migration program but could also apply to refugees.

Almost 90 per cent of new migrants are settling in metropolitan areas such as Melbourne and Sydney.

A population package put before Government before last week’s leadership spill included the proposal for new migrants to be settled in regional areas for a period of up to five years – after this migrants could choose to relocate.

The newly appointed PM has created a separate portfolio of population to be lead by former Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge.

Department of Home Affairs figures revealed by The Australian showed that of the 112,000 skilled migrants that arrived in the country over the previous financial year, 87 per cent settled permanently in Sydney and Melbourne.

Mr Tudge has previously said that the number of incoming migrants was not the only factor in growing population pressures, but rather where these migrants were settling and the distribution being focused in major cities.

‘If the population was distributed more evenly, there would not be the congestion pressures that we have today in Melbourne and Sydney,’ Mr Tudge told a forum in Melbourne.

‘Nor would there be if the ­infrastructure was built ahead of demand,’ he said.

Record number of international students sticking around on visas with full work rights

More international students than ever are remaining in Australia for up to four years on graduate work visas following their studies.

The explosion has prompted concern from Labor, but the Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University (ANU) has argued they are not displacing other workers.

In March 50,000 international graduates were in Australia on the 485 visa — an increase of more than 16,000 in just 12 months.

Labor’s immigration spokesman, Shayne Neumann, said international students are an important contributor to the economy, but rapid growth in a visa subclass could be cause for concern.

“It’s incumbent on the Turnbull Government to ensure the integrity of Australia’s migration program,” he said.

Last year 350,000 international students were enrolled in universities — an increase of 100,000 in the preceding three years.

The lag between a student’s enrolment and graduation, and the grant of subclass 485 visas, means the number of international graduates working in Australia is set to rise even further in coming years.

International students are allowed to work for 20 hours per week during semester under their visa, but no time or occupation restrictions apply to the “post-study” graduate visa stream.

This provides a visa of two years following study — or up to four years for some higher qualifications — to those who complete degrees of at least two years.

The visa may assist some towards a pathway to permanent residency, but the majority of international students return to their home countries.

‘Very high value people’
ANU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian Schmidt told that the visa provides “flexibility” and “financial incentives” to students.

“But it also means the graduates we have here, who are incredibly well trained, have the opportunity to contribute to the Australian economy,” he said.
A 2015 report from the Productivity Commission stated “there is little doubt that immigration has boosted the supply of youth labour” and “continued monitoring of the impact of immigration on youth and graduate labour markets is warranted”.

Since this report was released, the number of temporary graduate visa holders in Australia has more than doubled.

Tweaks to the visa in 2013 gave longer and less restrictive post-study work rights to university graduates than those in vocational training.

According to the 2016 i-graduate International Student Satisfaction Survey, the opportunity to work in Australia following study was more important to students than the opportunity for part-time work during study.

This survey, partly funded by the Department of Education and Training, found the following factors were most important to students coming to Australia:

reputation of the qualification,
reputation of the institution, and the
reputation of the education.
Teacher reputation, opportunities for further study and social life were factors ranked immediately above the opportunity to work in Australia following studies.

 

Students left in a lurch by sudden visa policy change

International students from India have been left in the lurch due to the ACT government’s sudden change in their visa policy.

Earlier this year, Kanish Chug moved to Canberra and enrolled himself in a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) course at the University of Canberra, in the hope of getting five additional points required to beat the high competition in his occupation for skilled migration to Australia.

“I have 75 points. The competition is very high. Only a fixed number of accountants are invited each year and the cut off is very high. When I heard Canberra was giving state nomination for those who lived here, I moved to Canberra hoping it will help me gain five more points,” Mr Chug told.

In July 2017, the ACT government opened up state nomination for occupations which were not on the “open” list of in-demand jobs, if they already lived in the ACT.

If a person could prove they had been living in the ACT on a student visa or graduate visa for at least 12 months and had completed a Certificate III or higher education at a local institution, they could qualify for state nomination.

This prompted many like to move to Canberra.

Anjali* moved her family from Perth to Canberra upon learning this.

“I sold off everything and moved here in September 2017. I have enrolled myself in a Professional Accounting course here, paid thousands in fees, just to become eligible for state nomination.

“And now they tell us, this policy is no longer available. I can’t tell you how depressed I am,” she said.

Anjali and Kanish told that the news has been devastating, saying it’s leaving their futures bleak.

“I paid $50,000 for my Master’s degree in Melbourne. I enrolled myself in another degree to get five extra points and have paid thousands in fees.

“It is devastating to learn that all my effort to move to Canberra, my hard earned money was for nothing,” Kanish says.

Anjali says she would have qualified in September for state nomination had they not changed this policy suddenly.

“I don’t know what to do now. I feel cheated,” she says.

Anjali and Kanish are not alone.

Hundreds have signed an online petition demanding the ACT Government honour its original promise and allow international students enrolled in an ACT institution on or before the 29 June 2018, to apply for ACT nomination under the policy in place on that day.

This petition has received over 600 signatures over two days.
“ACT government to review visa program”
The ACT Government has now said it’s looking at a ‘more flexible way’ to help people who had moved there.

“Given that demand for the program is expected to continue to increase, there will be a need to find a more flexible way to manage the program within the limitations imposed by the Department of Home Affairs,” The Canberra Times quoted a spokeswoman of Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

Pathway to claim 5 extra points towards Australia’s skilled migration

Visa applicants in skilled migration program are keen to gain extra points after the federal government announced significant changes in the point system from 1 July 2018.

Australia’s skilled migration program is a points-based system designed to attract highly qualified and experienced professionals to best meet Australia’s skills needs.

There are a number of skilled migration visas that require applicants to score a minimum number of points to qualify for permanent skilled migration.

After the government’s recent announcement of increasing points threshold from 60 to 65, many prospective applicants are looking for alternative ways to boost their chances in the General Skilled Migration (GSM) visa point system.

Some of the new applicants now rely on boosting their points by clearing language test from National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI).

NAATI offers Credentialed Community Language (CCL) Test that gives 5 points to the prospective applicants for their point-based GSM visa.

CCL Exam determines an applicant’s ability to interpret the conversation between two speakers speaking different languages.

Harpal Singh is a NAATI accredited translator and interpreter for Punjabi-English and he also serves as a member of the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT) and the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters (NZSTI).

Mr Singh told SBS Punjabi that in the last month only there has been an increase in the number of people who wish to take NAATI’s CCL test to gain five points for skilled migration point test.

“This follows government’s recent amendment to the point test threshold, and now everyone is keen to meet the desired criteria by taking up this examination,” he said.

“There’re two options, either you score 7 each in the English proficiency test IELTS or you clear NAATI’s CCL test. Often people find the second option easier as it is conducted at a conversational level compared to the academic nature of IELTS.”

Mr Singh explained that it should be clear that an individual who passes a CCL test is not certified to work as an interpreter or translator.

“This system is designed to benefit people who have multilingual skills. It is only supposed to help them gain five bonus points for their points-based visa applications made to the Department of Home Affairs. This does not provide them with a work opportunity in this field,” he says.

“The overall pass rate of the CCL test is above 50% and that’s why we see a large number of applicants opting for this test.

“It looks quite promising compared to the pass percentage of the test conducted to get certification as an interpreter or translator, which sits well below 15%.

Mr Singh explained that an overwhelming number of candidates take the CCL test lightly and come unprepared for the exam. “Just don’t be overconfident… It is only the practise that will make you through, so put some time and sincere effort if you wish to succeed,” he suggests.

Melbourne-based migration agent told that the recent change in the point test could be attributed to the high calibre of prospective applicants who express their interest in the GSM program.

“I often deal with Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu speaking clients from Indian-subcontinent and I see a huge interest in them to take the NAATI test to gain 5 extra points,” he said.

“The test success rate seems ok but the problem lies in registering for the examination. My clients are struggling to book sessions as there’re no seats available until December.

“It seems like a poorly organised system. I went to check NAATI’s Melbourne office who suggested they don’t have enough resources or manpower to cope-up with this huge increase in the number of applicants.

“The applicants who are desperate to gain this bonus may think of taking this test in the less crowded cities rather than doing it in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. But I seriously doubt if there are any seats left in those cities.

Australian Government launches inquiry into mistreatment of international students

Fraudulent practices affecting thousands of international students in Australia will be part of the Federal Government’s inquiry starting this week. The focus of the inquiry will be migration agents and student agencies.

On Wednesday, June 27, the Joint Standing Committee on Migration will commence the first public hearing of this inquiry that looks into the efficacy of the current regulation of Australian migration agents.

The investigation includes the nature and prevalence of fraud, professional misconduct and other breaches by registered migration agents, the current review mechanisms for migration agents and the adequacy of penalties.

The inquiry committee is collecting evidence of the volumes and patterns of unregistered migration agents and education agents providing unlawful immigration services in Australia.

In the first session, the Department of Home Affairs is expected to be the only body allowed to participate as a witness.

In March, the Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, Alex Hawke, initiated a Parliamentary call to review the regulatory framework for international education. Mr Hawke asked the Committee to conduct an investigation into the effectiveness of the current regulation of Australian immigration agents.

Committee chair, Jason Wood, told  the investigation hopes to conclude with a series of recommendations to the government designed to combat unlicensed immigration agents.

“What we have found out there is a lot of concerns when it comes from mainly what we called unregistered immigration agents, taking advantage of Australians, and also foreigners, could be international students trying to come to the country,” Mr Wood said.

“We want to come out with a report to the government to make recommendations and hopefully change this and could be more powers, could be more regulation; that is the intention of the inquiry.”

Mr. Wood didn’t rule out an increase of resources to protect international students from scams to strengthen international education – a sector that in 2017 injected AUD $32.3 billion to the Australian economy, according to the Department of Education and Training.

“It may be a recommendation that we need to put more resources in. But at the start of the issue, it is difficult to tell what the recommendations are because we do not know what our experts are going to be asking us to do with the witnesses.”

For the last four months, the Committee has been collecting background information and receiving submissions from both public and private entities.

So far 34 organisations, including the Commonwealth Ombudsman, the Education and Training Department of Australia and the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), have lodged their submissions.

This Committee is also collecting relevant stakeholders’ views through two online questionnaires, targeting students, immigration agents and education agents.

Maria Vamvakinou, Labor MP and vice-president of the Federal Joint Standing Committee on Migration says they are looking to identify any deficiency that could compromise the system and they are particularly interested in the role of education agents.

“At this stage we are still receiving presentations and the Joint Standing Committee on Migration will begin its public hearings in Sydney and Melbourne in mid-July,” Ms Vamvakinou told .

“The hearings are open to the public and I would recommend any member of your community to attend, if they wish.”

The inquiry begins two weeks after the Ombudsman of International students published a report that describes the investigation of fraud of the agency ‘Tu Futuro’ which allegedly scammed hundreds of Latin American students for more than AUD 500,000. SBS Spanish and SBS Portuguese have been reporting on this story since January 2017.

The crucial role of the education agents

The market of international education in Australia has been regulated since the year 2000, when the Federal Government created specific norms and regulations to guarantee minimum standards for international students. The main actors are the education providers, the migrant agents and the education agents.

Education agents play an important role in the recruitment of international students. In 2017 education agents were responsible for 73.6% of the enrolments of the more than 624,000 foreign students who came to Australia to study.

However, they are not legally responsible under Australian regulations, as detailed by the Australian Department of Education and Training in their submission to the inquiry starting this week.

The state’s oversight responsibility over the education agents is outsourced to the Australian private schools providing the courses. According to the 2018 National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018, it is the role of the “Australian registered providers to ensure that their education agents act ethically, honestly and in the best
interest of overseas students and uphold the reputation of Australia’s international education sector.”

The 2018 National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students is one of the three regulators for educational services that are overseen by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). The other two legal frameworks that regulate the industry are the Education Services for International Students Act (ESOS 2000) and the Higher Education Standards Framework (2015).

Last month TEQSA’s executive director Anthony McClaran told “TEQSA regulates universities and schools providing higher education and it is the responsibility of the provider to ensure the agents they work with here in Australia and overseas act in an ethical and honest manner, and in the best interest of international students.”

When complaints are not collective, instead of contacting TEQSA, students can submit them to the Commonwealth Ombudsman who can help potential, current and former students of private schools and universities based in Australia. International students also have a specific Ombudsman: the Ombudsman for Overseas Students.

The Ombudsman can help, for example, in the cases of complaints about an administrative tariff or a reimbursement that was not agreed in the written contract signed by the international student or potential student.

Notwithstanding, in May the Ombudsman’s office told that they are only authorised to investigate complaints of student agents who have an agreement to act on behalf of an Australian school. “We do not have jurisdiction to investigate educational agents that do not have an agreement to represent a private educational provider.”

The issues with education agents are not new. Since commencement in 2011, the Office of the Ombudsman has seen issues arise in complaints involving education agents. Some of the reported issues are: providing false or misleading advice about a course or provider, enrolling a student with one provider while telling the student they had been enrolled with a different provider; accepting tuition fees before the student signed the written agreement; failed to pass on tuition fees to the provider and even failing to give the student a copy of the written agreement, including the refund policy.

If international students have any issues with agents that do not have a formal agreement to represent Australian educational providers, the students should contact their local authorities and present a complaint against the agent. When the student is in Australia, they should contact the Australian consumer affairs agency of the state or territory where the agent operates.

In all cases, potential students can access the list of local student (education) agents in each country here. Only Colombia has 38 local agents listed in the Australian government website.

Listing overseas education agents in the official website of the Australian government might be confusing for potential international students. It can mislead them to believe the agents listed in the official site are legally responsible under Australian regulations, while they are not.

What happened to the victims of ‘Tu Futuro’ student agency in Australia?

The student agency industry showed its dark side with the alleged fraud committed by Tu Futuro agency in December 2016.

In January 2017, SBS Spanish broke the story of hundreds of international students from Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela and Spain, who were asking the Australian authorities to help them recover thousands of dollars given to the owners of ‘Tu Futuro agency’ – who operated out of Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

According to the students, they paid every expense to enrol in English courses in Australia except the cost of medical insurance and accommodation.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman Michael Manthorpe released a report that summarises the investigation that he carried out in 2017, due to the significant number of complaints received against ‘Tu Futuro’.

The document, dated June 15, 2018, states that the actions of this student agency generated economic losses of half a million dollars to hundreds of international students and involved 17 schools.

However, the Ombudsman report says the actions of this one agent aren’t indicative of a system failure.

The Ombudsman also says that together with the Tuition Protection Service (TPS) they could recover almost AUD $40,000 that was returned to the affected students.

The report explains that some of those affected received financial compensation while others arrived to agreements with the schools directly.

César Merino is a Colombian student who acted as the coordinator of hundreds of victims. He says that he has already accepted that the savings that took so much effort to collect are lost in the hands of the owners of ‘Tu Futuro’ agency.

Mr Merino said he paid the agency almost AUD $13,000, including the cost of his course and that of his brother. The agency did not pay the money to the institution on the Gold Cost where he planned to study English. Neither the payment vouchers nor the electronic transfers made to ‘Tu Futuro’ were enough to support his claim.

The most affected were those who didn’t receive the certificate of enrolment from the schools.

“The majority of those affected that sent the money directly to “Tu Futuro” agency in Australia have not received any kind of solution until today,” Mr Merino said. In mid-2017 he travelled to the Gold Coast to start again from scratch after getting into debt with a bank back in Colombia.

“We hope that in one way or another, education agencies – together with the schools – start being legally responsible for the educational processes they offer,” he said.

K.A is another victim of ‘Tu Futuro’. She asked to be identified by her initials. She told that after students made complaints to the Australian authorities, by the time they finally responded to the complaints, the agency had closed the business, packed up and left Australia. Some students have told that the owners of El Futuro are now living in the region of Tucuman, Argentina.

K.A. wants to warn potential foreign students – especially those who are still in their countries trying to come to Australia using local education agents. They are the most vulnerable of becoming victims of fraud because no Australian authority directly regulates student agencies, not within Australia, let alone in other countries.

“Education is one of Australia’s biggest sources of income and it seems very easy to become a student agent as they are not regulated,” K.A. said.

“When I tried to report my case, it wasn’t anyone’s competence: not the police because it was not a crime in Australia but overseas so it was no one’s competence. There is no one to report this case to.”

K.A. arrived Australia with her family because she managed to receive the letter of enrolment from the school her husband applied to through ‘Tu Futuro’. However, she lost nearly AUD $24,000 in the process.

She says schools should be the only ones authorised to receive money from students, without intermediate agencies.

“It is very bad that the education agents are administrating the money. If it had gone directly to the school to which it had to be paid to, it would have been very different.

My money was in the agents’ hands and education agents aren’t regulated by anyone. It was as if I had given the money to a random person”, KA said .

César Piracoca, another Colombian aspiring student, is still in Bogotá waiting for a solution.

He says he received no official support during the investigation, even though he had the enrolment certificates from Riverton, the Australian Institute of Business and Technology, which he paid for through ‘Tu Futuro’. He was enrolled to attend a general English course and a Diploma in Business Administration.

Mr Piracoca asks the Australian authorities to increase the control of the education agencies. He said he contacted ‘Tu Futuro’ agency through the official website “Study in Australia”, administered by the Australian Committee of Trade and Investment (Austrade).

“They (the Australian government) should have more legislation, a way for the government to know where the money is coming from and who is making money from those resources,” he told .

“Because the truth is that one could send money through many informal ways, with people, or through electronic means, such as PayPal and electronic transfers (…) Anyone can be a student agent.”

Mr Piracoca said he still has no certainty whether he can come with his family to study in Australia. After the economic blow that lost him his savings to ‘Tu Futuro’, the latest news is that Riverton School – where he was supposed to study – closed its doors two months ago. https://www.riverton.edu.au/

The joint Committee will also hold public hearings in Sydney and Melbourne but is yet to set any dates.

Increase to the financial requirements for certain Student Visa applications

This article explains the changes, potential impact on visa applications and why using an expert of your choice may be beneficial.

Increase to the financial requirements for certain Student Visa applications

Sufficient funds for cost of living
In certain instances student visa applications must be submitted with evidence the applicants have sufficient funds available whilst undertaking studies in Australia.
Today, the Department of Home Affairs announced the minimum funds required will increase on 1 February 2018 – the increase will start at around 2.3% and will continue to change in line with Australia’s consumer price index (CPI).

From 1 February 2018:

Main Student or Guardian: $20,290
Partner or Spouse: $7,100
Per Child: $3,040

Conclusion
Many changes to the migration portfolio and the various types of Australian visas have come into effect over the last 6 – 8 months. Some of these changes are still in place and some have been disallowed subsequently reverting back to the original requirements.
More changes to the migration program are scheduled to take place over the coming months and are likely to create a surge in the number of visa applications being lodged before those changes take effect.

With that in mind, this is a timely reminder that the Department of Home Affairs may make decisions on visa applications based on the information submitted and in many instances are not required to ask for further supporting evidence.

In light of the above, the chances of lodging an invalid application and risking your immigration status, or having a visa application refused is a real possibility.

MY VISA ONLINE has many years of experience and is ready and able to assist you to achieve your migration goals.

If you would like to work with us, the best way to proceed is to book a consultation with our advisor. Aside from outlining your migration options in writing, you will be able to judge for yourself what it’s like to work with MY VISA ONLINE and whether we are the right experts for you.

University’s educational business partners who are participating in the SVP

“From 24 March 2012, in recognition of the universities’ good track record, student visa applicants enrolled in Bachelor, Masters or Doctoral degrees at participating universities, regardless of their country of origin, will be treated as though they are lower risk, similar to the current Assessment Level 1

Implementation of the Government Response to the Knight Review of the Student Visa Program

The majority of the stage two Knight Review changes are proposed to be implemented on 24 and 26 March 2012 with some other changes proposed to commence later in 2012 and in early 2013.

One of the recommendations agreed to by government is the introduction of new post-study work arrangements, which are planned to come into effect in 2013