Oz University body seeks effective visa programme

The peak body for Australia`s Universities has sought an effective visa programme to attract genuine overseas students.

Updated: Apr 19, 2011, 15:47 PM IST

Melbourne: The peak body for Australia`s
Universities has sought an effective visa programme to attract
genuine overseas students, suggesting that autorities fine-
tune assessments to more closely evaluate applicants from
regions like Punjab and Fujian that have thrown up more cases
of non-compliance.

Universities Australia (UA) said that steps like a
more fine-grained or region-based assessment level system,
will help identify genuine students and enable them to gain a
student visa quickly and with a minimum of disruption.

In its submission to the Knight review of the student
visa programme, the body called for a selective reduction in
the amount of money prospective students must demonstrate they
can access to fund living expenses while studying in
Australia.

"In India and China if high rates of fraud and
non-compliance exist in Punjab and Fujian respectively, then
they should attract a much higher assessment level compared to
other regions within those large countries," it said.

It suggested a `fine tuned approach` to current visa
threshold requirements for prospective students including on
the basis of enrolling institutions.

The "extraordinary" burden on potential university
students from countries including India and China impeded
Australian universities capacity to compete for high quality
international students, it said.

UA has stated in its paper, that it would welcome
Department of Immigration and Citizenship taking a more
`fine-tuned` approach to current visa threshold requirements,
in particular financial aspects, that takes account of
cultural and regional differences.

It also supported an agreed on minimum general level
of English language proficiency at the point of entry for
students who intend on pursuing a university course.

Larger institutions "that do not have excessive
reliance on the economic benefits derived from international
students should be assessed as low risk," UA suggested.

The submission also advocated continuing the existing
visa class for postgraduate research students, because they
are not motivated by "revenue raising" and contribute to
productivity and innovation.

Noting that the visa application fee was more
expensive as compared to other countries, UA suggested that if
current charges were to be maintained, it wanted a more
transparent account of where and how the revenue from student
visa application charges was being allocated and strongly
encourage income be used to support the welfare of
international students whilst in Australia.

Universities Australia is the national peak
organisation representing all 39 of Australia`s universities
in the public interest, both nationally and internationally.

The review also said that graduates should be allowed
to work in Australia for longer after completing a
qualification, with the period tied to course length and type
of qualification.

The visa review was set up last December in the
backdrop of declining overseas demand which the industry
attributes to long application processing periods and the
requirement to demonstrate access to up to USD 18,000 per
annum to cover living costs while studying in Australia.

Addressing the controversial international student
English literacy issue, UA is adamant that universities must
retain the right to set their own entry standards.

PTI