In Australia, universities are not required to sign up to the streamlined visa processing system, but most have, making processing faster and cheaper for many would-be students. Expulsion from the system, which is fundamentally similar to Britain’s, “would have a very clear impact on their position in the international market,” said Queensland University of Technology deputy vice-chancellor Scott Sheppard. “In a very competitive marketplace, if your processing times went out by eight or 10 weeks, students would rightfully opt for another provider.”
This is how in an article in THE AUSTRALIAN (see link), Australian Universities react to the news of Highly Trusted Status of London Metropolitan University being withdrawn by UKBA. I am a little bemused at the similarities being drawn between the HTS and SVP. Loss of HTS means that the University cannot enrol foreign students. Full Stop. Loss of SVP doesnot mean so but the implication is that it will lead to an indirect closure of international student market to the University.
The initial reports indicate that SVP experiences by and large have been more than satisfactory. Barring a few erroneous decisions, bulk of the “genuine” students who have been processed under SVP has been successful in getting visas. The trick is in the way GTE (Genuine Temporary Entrant) criteria is applied to the student case. Sometimes the Visa Office is privy to some information, which the University mayn’t be and hence they can arrive at contradictory impressions on a student. The interest for Australian Education too seems to be an upswing and it seems that India will once again figure strongly as a market for Australia. In some ways, it is “now or never” for Australia in India as far as education as a trade is concerned. The Post Study Work can become a big USP if it is rolled out without any “ifs and buts”. I am honestly not sure as have often found a small font condition lurking around in such announcements.
You may have also noted that the Foreign Education Bill, which grabbed the headlines for years and was a pet project of India’s Minister of HRD seems to have been shelved now. Hence all the arguments that there will be investments into campuses set in India by foreign Universities which can affect the outflow of student numbers is not going to happen for a few years atleast now. Honestly it would not have affected at all since the students who want an overseas degree do want to experience the foreign campuses and life in a foreign land. It is not just the degree. Further the post study work or settlement is always in most Indian’s thoughts.
Returning back to the UKBA’s action on London Metropolitan University’s HTS, I can almost see a corrective action and them returning back to the HTS very shortly. In the past two other Universities lost their status and returned back too. But a kind of damage to the repute has happened and frankly, it is not fair to the students and alumni of the University who know that the University maynot be brilliant but is fairly good.
In Australia, a few of the borderline Universities who risk action if they slip (and are on warning) are taking their role a bit too seriously and sometimes even infringing the privacy and other guidelines. I have just come across the case of a student who applied under SVP for a visa and who was refused on the ground that she had applied to another University for a different program and was refused. She had not disclosed this to the Visa interviewer but the University that had not given he an admission letter had already provided a list of such students to the visa office. You may find it confusing and it did to me too but then I realized that the borderline University was actually providing a list of declined students to DIAC. My contention is that every student applies to multiple institutions and it is not appropriate for any University to share that information even to the Visa Office when the student is not applying for a visa for that University… Something is amiss and frankly the borderline University will lose more ambassadors in the market. In my personal opinion, the student who was refused visa is better than most who are granted the visa and is a bright and genuine recruit. Australia’s loss indeed. Loss also to the University which gave the offer under SVP without knowing that the student had applied to another institution and Loss also for the borderline University which in my opinion is simply going beyond what is being asked from them by the Immigration…