The Australian | 8 May 2013
Some Indian students are using the university-only streamlined visa system to get to Australia, and are then jumping ship to cheaper private providers, according to two “well-regarded” education agents. They said the abuse appeared to be on a small scale now but was bound to increase as student arrivals gain momentum under the new visa system.
One agent, based in the Indian state of Punjab, blamed the Australian visa system’s new bias against the vocational education and training courses desired by, and more suited to, many genuine students. “I doubt that even 50 per cent (of this year’s streamlined intake at universities) will complete their three-year bachelor with the same provider,” he said.
The Knight reforms of international student visas, following a migration-driven boom in private colleges, introduced a streamlined visa system favouring higher education at public universities because they are regarded as less prone to immigration and labour market rorts.
Growth in the Indian market has shifted, with a 47% increase in new university students in the year to March, and a 25 decline in the number of new VET students.
News of a VET loophole in the streamlined visa system comes at a delicate time because “quality” private providers and TAFEs have been waiting months for a promised announcement that they too can join the system, which allows institutions to bring in students more easily but holds them accountable for any immigration problems.
However, Jeffrey Smart, international vice-president at Swinburne University of Technology says the new system appears to be working well and that Swinburne has seen a reduction in the number of requests from new commencing international students for early release from a packaged offer.