Under SSVF, “regular” (non-streamlined) students from the sub-continent will need to meet the basic English Language Proficiency requirement set by the DIBP and this can be met through a required score in IELTS (or one of the other tests).
I am aware that even under the SSVF (being introduced in July 2016), few institutions (very few that may quality as AL1) may still be able to set their own requirements and some of them may be tempted to continue accepting dodgy/unreliable certificates indicating English Medium of Instruction issued by Indian institutions, in-lieu of the IELTS test scores. However, most such Institutions (with streamlined applications from the sub-continent) are expected to be extra cautious. I believe that allowing English Language Test to be replaced by a dodgy MOI document is knowingly finding shortcuts for lesser students simply to recruit student numbers.
I strongly recommend to ALL Australian Education Providers (even if their applicants are to be streamlined) that they insist on a formal English Language Proficiency test score from their applicants from India or Nepal or Bangladesh. If any are to be waived under streamlining, it may only be an exception based on various other criteria other than a mere MOI document.
I know that there are some students who may not have any of the English proficiency tests but possess skills that will ensure that they will score well if they took the test. It is still too risky to operate through waivers.
Having said the above, it is a fact that it is too easy to get a certificate from any College or University in India indicating the medium of instruction at the institution as “English”. However this doesn’t prove that the student is proficient with the language and certainly doesn’t demonstrate his skill with Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking of the language that is going to be so critical to his or her success with education in any of the main education destinations.
It is also a fact that several agents (and sometimes institution’s in-country reps) also advise a student to hide their low IELTS score and simply provide the MOI document.
In 2001, Australia made a certain IELTS/OET score compulsory for the purpose of the student visa. A few years ago, other tests such as PTE/CAE/TOEFL were also made acceptable. Once SVP (Streamline Visa Processing) was introduced, the role to check the student’s English proficiency was left to the education providers. This is when the abuse of the norm took place and several institutions under pressure to attract student numbers, waived the English requirement if the applicants were able to substitute the English language test requirement with simple MOI document. MOI document being a letter from student’s educational institution indicating the medium of instruction is English.
Honestly, for some institutions, it became the main USP. One regional University was able to attract students to their main campus (the location of which the student may not be even able to place on a map) solely on the basis of the English Test waiver. The University made amends and though the numbers dropped, compliance onshore increased. There are a few other institutions that however refuse to accept the reality and would like to give the student and the education agent – benefit of doubt. I can only suggest that if they test the student’s skill after arriving in Australia by sponsoring their IELTS test, they will be shocked (or may not be) by the low score that 90% of such students will get.
The same holds true for several NZ institutions too and NZQA working with Immigration NZ modified their norms in October 2015 to ensure that the student visa applicants are providing one of the English Language Proficiency Test benchmark.
Thus, I applaud Australia’s DIBP in re-introducing the visa office requirement with English Proficiency requirements under SSVF. It is a low requirement but anyways an essential component. Most institutions may have higher score requirement anyways. I am aware that it will not apply to the streamlined applications even now but in the Indian context, bulk of the institutions will be AL2 and thus will need to meet the DIBP norms. The institutions that are able to have their applicant streamlined can still waive the English norms but I am sure that these institutions will be extra cautious now. If they are not, they risk being moved to a lower assessment level where it becomes mandatory anyways.
I know that some of you may indicate that even under the current system, non-SVP applicants were required to meet DIBP set English requirements. However the difference is that currently ALL Universities, most TAFE and several Private Providers are under SVP and thus able to waive English requirement. Under the SSVF, there will be many Universities too unable to streamline students from the India or Nepal or Bangladesh and thus an English Proficiency Test becomes a non-waivable requirement.