Media and Education Provider’s half-study of Knight recommendations turning “night” to day. The reality differs somewhat!

The Telegraph put out the proposed student visa reforms under a sadly worded title AUSSIE VISA PENANCE (see link) and advises…

…The changes announced today will enable universities to get quick visa approvals for foreign students from any country and the right to two years of work after graduation. It has done away with the condition put on students from “high-risk countries” to show bank deposits of up to Australian $75,000 (Rs 36 lakh). Students will now only need to furnish a declaration that they have the funds to cover expenses.

Not just them… but several newspapers in India and also in Australia reported that all recommendations have been fully accepted. I guess this is only true in spirit and in principle since several of them will have to be interpreted once again as per DIAC and based on circumstances in each country and certainly the impression that floodgates have been opened is just not right.

The Universities too have been misreading the announcements and one public University circulated an advisory that states…

  • Students applying to bachelors, masters and research courses will be treated in the lowest risk category (Assessment Level 1) regardless of their country of origin.
  • Students applying for ELICOS and/or Diploma packaged with a bachelors course will be assessed at Assessment Level 1.
  • Assessment Level 1 applicants must meet the financial requirements which are to “give a declaration that they have access to funds for the full period of their study to cover course fees, living costs, dependent costs and travel”. For many students this is a significant easing of the current evidentiary fund requirement.

Another institutions alerted their partners in an informal email that its time to “dance on the streets” and that India was AL1 now.

Well, well, well…

I think we will all be very naïve if we assume that Australia will commit the blunder of “apply all and visa to all” policy and certainly that will not happen. I honestly would not like that to happen too.

The change of AL in India from 4 to 3 too led to an increase in fraud and also professional sponsorships and if Australia will make all countries as AL1 in “all senses” it will be negative for the country and soon we will be having another review.

Hence, I went about reading the small fonts and detailed guidelines as-available to discover…

Reproduced below is cut-paste from FAQs from the immigration site.

How would the streamlined arrangements work?

It is proposed that students with a CoE for an eligible course in a participating Australian university would generally have reduced evidentiary requirements when applying for a student visa, regardless of their nationality, as they would be treated as though they are all Assessment Level 1 (AL1) applicants.

The students would still have to satisfy requirements in regard to English-language and finances and would have to meet the new genuine temporary entrant requirement. However, they would not have the same documentary burdens that currently exist under the higher ALs.

In addition, all applicants would still be subject to basic requirements such as having health insurance and not being a security or health risk. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) would also reserve the right to look more closely at applications from any group that pose a particular concern.

How would the financial requirements for higher risk AL3 and AL4 student visa applicants change?

The government proposes to reduce the financial requirements for AL3 and AL4 student visa applicants in the following way:

  • evidence of funds for AL4 applicants would be reduced from 36 to 24 months and their savings history reduced from six to three months
  • evidence of funds for AL3 applicants would be reduced from 24 to 18 months.

This would reduce the financial requirements by around AUD36 000 for an AL4 applicant and around AUD18 000 for an AL3 applicant.

Source: http://www.immi.gov.au/students/_pdf/2011-visa-processing-improvements.pdf

So, we can summarize that the streamlining is akin to fast-tracking and quicker processing and applicable to Universities that sign the dotted lines. However it has no bearing on the financial requirements for the visas. Indian students for 573 are AL3 and hence will now have to now demonstrate lesser funds but not as per AL1 requirement. It will now be for 18 months instead for 24 months.

Does this clear some confusion??? I would urge DIAC to provide more and more details specific to each of the countries so that there is just no undesired rumors.

Now that I have had the time to digest the changes, the biggest plus that we have is the introduction of Post Study Work. And as I had recommended in one of my earlier blogs, this by itself has the potential to make Australia an attractive destination across disciplines.

In my yesterday’s blog https://ravilochansingh.com/2011/09/22/australian-student-visa-reforms-michael-knight-delivers-family-delighted-though-baby-slightly-pre-matured/ I did critique the recommendations and going by the hits and comments on it, I do believe that it has served its purpose. However, I am sorry for having ruined some “dancing on the streets”.

ADDITIONAL NOTES TO THIS POST (BEING ADDED ON 29TH SEPTEMBER):

These relate to the Government’s response to the Knight report and set out what is proposed to be done.
There is much detail to be worked through yet.  Student visa applicants of participating (and I emphase the word participating) universities will have an AL 1 like streamling model, that is a declaration of funds availability and accessibility and english.  Universities and other providers have standards of english language for each course. 
The AL 3 & 4 proposed changes are separate to the proposed (and I emphasise proposed because details of requirements to be met by participating universities have not been established yet) university student visa streamlining model.   This has yet to be developed.  The AL 3 & 4 proposed changes to the financial requirements would (when they are implemented) would apply to all non-participating and non-university student visa applicants.
Coming back to the declaration of funds and english.  The FAQ  on the GTE(Genuine Temporary Entrant) is relevant to discussion of how much documentation/evidence may be required.   More details are yet to be announced on how the GTE will be assessed. The FAQ is on… and it clearly gives the power to the DIAC to require documents etc and so we need to wait for specifics.
Institutions and agents will be informed of further details closer to date of implementation.  DIAC Canberra is proposing to consult further with universities and the peak bodies of other education sectors in the coming weeks. 

6 Comments

  1. Ravi,
    In the earlier blog that you had i mentioned that i have gone through the entire Knight Review and the most important thing to the review is the statement made within one of the recommendations “STUDENT WOULD HAVE TO PROVE THAT THEY ARE GENUINE TEMPORARY ENTRANT”. It would be really interesting to know what are the parameters bearing which this clause is going to be hold true. if it is the interview on the basis of which they will decide the genuineness of the student, if the student are do u plan to come back, of course everyone of them is going to say a YES and that i have BLa bla bla things to do in india once i come, and even they would know that it is far from the truth…….and that the able ones are going to look at options of staying back……then why this clause or else they should have atleast some guidelines to it……….i hope you understand what i am conveying….

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    1. Sachin, genuineness is a subjective criteria and we have seen judgments varying from one to another. Interviews remain a prerogative and I do foresee them being uses even more. However there is a FAQ with details on Genuine Temporary Entrant on the immigration site now.

      Ravi Sent from my iPhone

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  2. Well explained Ravi, we must first get some information as how things will be interpreted at the Indian post. And when we observe things especially these changing policies, we often only see the positive in them and sometimes ignore the hidden agendas in them.

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  3. Dear Ravi Sir,

    Very well said…. there’s lot of misinterpretation happening on new student visa reforms proposed by Australia. Currently we need to wait and watch on DIAC interpretation. However this is proposed reform is really one sided and being too partial to universities. Australia’s huge market (VET Sector) TAFE is really being discriminated. The real good thing of all is the PSW which will really attract students for Australia now.

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    1. Absolutely… my earlier blog on the same topic did indicate that the VET sector may have a reason to feel let-down and that there are VET programs that may actually lead to global opportunities too. Anyways, PSW is the way forward and will inject caffeine into the industry.

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