UK blacklists 2000 Indian banks from student visa process

London, Oct. 25: As of November 24 this year, around 1,940 banks — mostly cooperative ones — have been named as “financial institutions that do not satisfactorily verify financial statements,” according to the UK Border Agency. It means that students who need to show evidence that they have enough funds to support themselves through a course in the UK won’t be able to rely on statements from any of those institutions. The agency, part of Britain’s Home Office, provides a full list of names, ranging from the Ahmedabad Mercantile Co-Op Bank Ltd, to the Bangalore City Co-operative Bank Ltd, to the Pondicherry Coop. Urban Bank

Indians worst hit as Australia axes 15,000 student visas

Sydney: Immigration authorities in Australia have cancelled 15,066 foreign student visas in the last one year, and the worst hit are Indians. Of the total, 3,624 students lost their visas because they flunked in some or all subjects or were no-shows to class, the Herald Sun reported. This was a 37 percent rise in visa cancellation

New English Language Tests for Student Visas

From 5 November 2011, the department will accept English language test results from the following alternative tests to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) for Student visa purposes taken in any country:

•Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT)
•Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
•Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test (also known as Certificate in Advanced English).

Boost to International Education Sector in Response to Knight Review

The Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations, Senator Chris Evans, and the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, today announced a suite of measures to enhance competitiveness in Australia’s international education sector.

The new measures are in response to the report by the Hon Michael Knight AO, Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program 2011, which was released today

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”.