Student Visa Program Report

Key Points
• The March 2011 quarter data indicates that student visa applications may be stabilising from the decrease
experienced in 2009 and 2010.
• There were 36 523 student visa applications lodged in March 2011. This was the second highest number of
applications lodged during March in the last 4 years.
• The grant rate for student applications for the 3 month period between 1 January and 31 March 2011 increased to
93.6% compared to the previous 3 months (92.8%).
• There were 183 441 student visa grants in the 2010-11 program year to the end of March 2011. This represents
11.1% decrease compared to the same period in 2009-10 (206 354 grants).
• Visa processing times have improved considerably, compared to the previous four periods, with 75% of all
applications processed in 29 days during this quarter.

Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to establish a national regulator for the vocational education and training (VET) sector.

n 2009 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to establish a national regulator for the vocational education and training (VET) sector. The new regulator will be an independent Commonwealth statutory authority.

The new regulator is being established through:

* a referral of powers by the states (other than Victoria and Western Australia), and
* the exercise of the Commonwealth’s constitutional powers in the territories.

There will be a transition period for transfer of registration from state and territory regulators to the national regulator.

With the passage of l

Paper ‘blames students’ over visa influx

FORMER NSW Olympics minister Michael Knight has glossed over the role that official policy played in the distortion of skilled migration by overseas students.

Mr Knight, who is carrying out an independent review of the student visa program, puts the blame on “non-genuine” students seeking permanent residence.

“Regrettably this expansion of non-genuine student numbers was facilitated by some agents and institutions whose business practices were highly dubious, sometimes illegal,” he says in his discussion paper.

But Monash University researcher Bob Birrell says Mr Knight “doesn’t acknowledge it was successive governments that set this policy up and brought about this outcome”.

In 2001, the Howard government allowed overseas students to stay after graduation and apply for skilled migration, laying the foundation for the rapid growth of an export education industry linked to permanent residency.

Since 2008, the government has progressively tightened policy, all but removing the PR carrot from the overseas student industry.

The Knight paper speaks of widespread agreement that some education providers and agents “did manipulate the system primarily for migration outcomes rather than educational outcomes”.

In a sarcastic blog post Sydney immigration lawyer Michael Jones says: “The government, of course, bears no responsibility for all of this.

“The easiest group to blame are the students themselves, some of whom, the [Knight] paper tells us, ‘came to Australia to undertake an education in order to gain permanent residence without any intention of undertaking employment related to their course of study’.

“Of course they did. That was the product they were sold, with the full blessing of the Australian government. It wasn’t those corrupt agents who created the 885 and 886 visas [for overseas students], it was the Australian government.

“They allowed the fast-buck stakeholders to grow into the country’s third largest export industry, fuelled by the savings and borrowings of aspirational families in India, China, Nepal, Vietnam.”

Knight says his paper was not meant to cover “all the issues in this very complex area”. “It is meant to stimulate discussion, not pre-empt it.”

The closing date for comment is April 15. Melbourne University’s Lesleyanne Hawthorne says her research suggests students in professional courses such as engineering do indeed want to work in those fields, in contrast to students in trade courses such as bricklaying, hairdressing and cooking.

The Knight paper defines a genuine student as one who intends to come to Australia on a temporary basis to study, but acknowledges students accounted for between 14 and 22 per cent of the skills migration program over the past five years.

Birrell says most overseas students in accounting, for example, “probably did have in mind the possibility of PR”.

“You can’t dismiss anybody who subsequently sought PR as not a genuine student.”

Hawthorne says: “Many students are genuine students, they’re seeking a qualification. They may make pragmatic decisions about the qualification they do, to lock in PR options”.

Paper ‘blames students’ over visa influx

FORMER NSW Olympics minister Michael Knight has glossed over the role that official policy played in the distortion of skilled migration by overseas students.

Mr Knight, who is carrying out an independent review of the student visa program, puts the blame on “non-genuine” students seeking permanent residence.

“Regrettably this expansion of non-genuine student numbers was facilitated by some agents and institutions whose business practices were highly dubious, sometimes illegal,” he says in his discussion paper.

But Monash University researcher Bob Birrell says Mr Knight “doesn’t acknowledge it was successive governments that set this policy up and brought about this outcome”.

In 2001, the Howard government allowed overseas students to stay after graduation and apply for skilled migration, laying the foundation for the rapid growth of an export education industry linked to permanent residency.

Since 2008, the government has progressively tightened policy, all but removing the PR carrot from the overseas student industry.

The Knight paper speaks of widespread agreement that some education providers and agents “did manipulate the system primarily for migration outcomes rather than educational outcomes”.

In a sarcastic blog post Sydney immigration lawyer Michael Jones says: “The government, of course, bears no responsibility for all of this.

“The easiest group to blame are the students themselves, some of whom, the [Knight] paper tells us, ‘came to Australia to undertake an education in order to gain permanent residence without any intention of undertaking employment related to their course of study’.

“Of course they did. That was the product they were sold, with the full blessing of the Australian government. It wasn’t those corrupt agents who created the 885 and 886 visas [for overseas students], it was the Australian government.

“They allowed the fast-buck stakeholders to grow into the country’s third largest export industry, fuelled by the savings and borrowings of aspirational families in India, China, Nepal, Vietnam.”

Knight says his paper was not meant to cover “all the issues in this very complex area”. “It is meant to stimulate discussion, not pre-empt it.”

The closing date for comment is April 15. Melbourne University’s Lesleyanne Hawthorne says her research suggests students in professional courses such as engineering do indeed want to work in those fields, in contrast to students in trade courses such as bricklaying, hairdressing and cooking.

The Knight paper defines a genuine student as one who intends to come to Australia on a temporary basis to study, but acknowledges students accounted for between 14 and 22 per cent of the skills migration program over the past five years.

Birrell says most overseas students in accounting, for example, “probably did have in mind the possibility of PR”.

“You can’t dismiss anybody who subsequently sought PR as not a genuine student.”

Hawthorne says: “Many students are genuine students, they’re seeking a qualification. They may make pragmatic decisions about the qualification they do, to lock in PR options”.

Rise in international students

By Gordon Taylor
Updated Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:07pm AEDT
The ANU and University of Canberra have both recorded an increase in overseas student numbers, despite a national trend down. (ABC News: Damien Larkins)
Canberra’s main universities have gone against a national trend and attracted increased numbers of international students.
Figures from the Immigration Department show that student visa applications from outside Australia fell 32 per cent in the last six months of last year compared with the same period in 2009.
But the Australian National University has seen a nine per cent increase in international students this year, whilst the University of Canberra has had a 33 per cent increase.
ANU Vice Chancellor Professor Ian Young says there are still obstacles for overseas students who want to study in Australia
“Obviously the University would encourage the government to free up the visa regulations so that it makes the processing process as streamlined and easy as possible for well qualified bone fide international students.”
Professor Young believes that in the case of ANU it is the quality of the education that is attracting overseas students.
“In addition to that, I think that Canberra has been fortunate that it hasn’t been directly associated with a number of the issues around student safety, so its clear that international students see Canberra as a safe supporting environment to undertake their further education.”

Students paid for fake results

A SCAM involving a Perth university employee charging Indian students thousands of dollars for fake English test results stretched across the country, with one student flying from Queensland to obtain dodgy marks.

The student, Sukhdeep Buttar, was desperate to secure results good enough to qualify for permanent residency.

He heard about the racket through a friend in Perth, Satinder Sidhu, who gave evidence at Western Australia’s Corruption and Crime Commission yesterday.

Mr Sidhu said he and Mr Buttar paid $8000 each to a man known as “Jimmy” so his results could be falsified.

“(Mr Buttar) was too much depressed . . . he couldn’t get the results; he tried a lot. That’s why he said if you know somebody,” Mr Sidhu told the inquiry. He said he had since learnt that “Jimmy” was in fact an Indian student called Pritesh Shah.

Mr Shah also took the stand yesterday and admitted he took about $30,000 from up to 40 Indian students so their results could be falsified.

Mr Shah said he became involved in the scam through a man called Abdul Kader who he worked with at a Perth petrol station. Mr Kader lived with a man called Keith Low who worked at Curtin University and could change the results of English tests used by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to help determine visa qualifications.

Mr Shah admitted he took about $200 per transaction and said Mr Kader also took a slice of the amount charged. The students were charged an average of $5000.

During Mr Shah’s evidence it was revealed that the CCC had raided the home of one of the students who paid for fake results. The CCC also secretly recorded calls between Mr Shah and Mr Kader. In one bugged call Mr Shah was heard reassuring Mr Kader in Hindi that the scam would not be revealed.

New legislation to strengthen the quality of Australian international education

Greater protection for international students will be available following last night’s passage of the first tranche of the legislative changes recommended by the Baird Review.

Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, said these legislative changes reinforce the Gillard Government’s continued commitment to international education, and build on a range of current initiatives to enhance and protect the international student experience.

These changes will better protect international students by further strengthening education providers’ registration requirements, and expanding the role of the Commonwealth Ombudsman for external complaints by international students relating to private providers.

“The international education sector is going through a period of readjustment after several years of unprecedented and unsustainable growth,” Senator Evans said.

In recent times, the sector has come under increasing pressure as a result of the rising value of the Australian dollar, the ongoing impact of the global financial crisis in some countries, and growing competition in the international education market.

“The Gillard Government is firmly committed to supporting quality and sustainability in the international education sector,” he said.

“This legislation follows the Government’s re-registration of all international education providers last year, which has raised the quality of education and training delivered to international students. It also accompanies the Student Visa Program Review, which is due to report in the middle of this year.”

“The legislative changes passed yesterday are an integral next step as the Government moves to build the foundations of a system based on quality and integrity.”

The Government is also consulting key stakeholders on a range of reforms to be introduced later this year, which are primarily aimed at strengthening the tuition protection framework for international students.

The establishment of the National VET Regulator and the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency this year will underpin continued high quality in both the VET and higher education sectors.

Student visa program report

Citizenship (the department). The report has been provided to assist education providers, representative bodies and
policymakers.
It is expected that this report will be further developed over time to increase and improve information sharing about the
student visa program.
It is important to note that the information used in this report comes from a new data source. Consequently, figures for
previous financial years have been revised and may differ slightly from those previously published by the department.
Data is sourced from several departmental visa processing and recording systems. Data can be dynamic and there can
be delays in transmission of information from the department’s global operations. Variations in figures between this
report and previous issues can occur. Due to these issues, the current financial year should always be considered
provisional.
Further data about the student visa program, including student visa grants by sector and country from 2002-03 to the
latest complete program year is available at the department’s website at www.immi.gov.au/media/statistics/study.
This report is available at www.immi.gov.au/media/statistics/study and will be updated on a quarterly basis.
Further information about the student visa program is available at www.immi.gov.au/students.