Australia lowers barrier for entry for foreign students

08 April 2011

Australia will lower the barriers for entry for many people who with to obtain student visas.

The student visa assessment level for 38 countries will be lowered across one or more visa subclasses as of 2 April 2011. The changes come after an internal review of Australia's student immigration system by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).

The review was most likely prompted by calls from Australia's education sector to make it easier for overseas students to gain entry; In recent years, Australia has seen a sharp decline in the number of international students applicants after stricter rules were put into place.

Applicants from 38 countries will benefit by not having to provide so much documentation in support of their student visa applications; It is likely that less documentation will need to be provided to show English language proficiency, financial capacity and academic qualifications.

"Prospective students and their families, agents and education providers should be aware that these changes will lower the minimum evidentiary requirements needed for the grant of a student visa for the selected countries and education sectors," a DIAC spokesman said today.

DIAC was quick to point out that the changes only affect the requirements for initial entry as a foreign student -- not the requirements to stay on in Australia as a permanent resident after studies are completed.

"While many international students apply for permanent residence when they complete their studies, this is an entirely separate process and there is no guarantee that, on the basis of having held a student visa, a person will meet the requirements to be granted permanent residence," DIAC said.

DIAC warned potential applicants not to choose Australia solely based on their chances of obtaining a permanent skilled immigration visa in future.

"Students should not make educational choices solely on the basis of expecting to achieve a particular migration outcome, because the skilled migration program will continue to change and adapt to Australia's economic needs," the spokesman said.

270,499 student visas were granted during the 2009-10 Fiscal Year, with 382,710 student visa holders actually in the country as at 30 June 2010; 80,450 of these students were from India, 80,010 were from China and 21,720 were from South Korea.