Immigration authorities have cancelled almost 11,000 visas of non-genuine students in the year ending June, an increase of more than a third compared with the previous corresponding period.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection cancelled 10,949 student visas between the start of July last year and the end of June this year, compared with 8018 in the previous year and 8930 in the year ending June 2013.
The new figures come as the government puts the finishing touches on its streamlined visa-processing framework, with a working group of international education sector stakeholders holding its last meeting last week. The government is hopeful of implementing the scheme, which will reduce the number of student visa subclasses from eight to two, by the middle of next year.
“The SSVF (simplified student visa framework) will mean a broader, simpler, fairer framework for both international students and Australian education providers,” Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Michaelia Cash writes in The Australian today. “It will benefit Australia’s international education sector through reduced red tape, a visa framework that is simpler to navigate and a more targeted approach to immigration integrity.”
The visa cancellation figures, obtained by the HES, show Chinese students had the biggest number of student visa cancellations, with 1793 cancelled in the past 12 months. More than 1160 South Korean students had their visas cancelled, followed in number by India, Vietnam and Thailand. The total number of student visas issued rose by 2 per cent, from 292,060 to 299,540.
The changed student visa framework will include country risk measurements, assigning a rating based on the country of origin of students. This will be combined with a risk rating based on an education provider’s past performance.
Phil Honeywood, chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia, said the present system allowed low-quality education providers to misuse the visa streamlining scheme.
“A key reason for ditching the current streamlined visa procedures is that too many low-quality education providers have been gaming the system, and this has meant students have been attracted to enrolling in such providers as an easy visa pathway to Australia,” Mr Honeywood said.
“Fortunately, the Immigration Department has been able to monitor many of these and has been prepared to cancel visas for non-genuine students.
“However, any quality student destination country should be on top of these non-genuine student cases at the application stage rather than after a visa has been issued.
“Because of effective consultation with the sector, we are hopeful that the new SSVF will significantly improve both the quality of providers and the checks and balances on genuine student approvals.”
The most recent high-profile case of a college misusing student visas was early last month, when authorities raided the offices of one provider, accusing three Melbourne men of falsely enrolling international students, creating fraudulent documents and not providing appropriate education.
Instead, it is alleged international students were working as contractors for a labour hire business owned by the men, while continuing to pay high tuition fees to maintain their enrolment status and student visas.
Several larger providers, including sector heavyweight Navitas, have cancelled contracts with some third-party agencies that source international students.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne also has moved to push out unscrupulous education agents, announcing a code of ethics and a feasibility study into an industry-led quality framework for agents.
“The quality of the educational services that Australia offers to the rest of the world is an asset that we should protect and enhance,” Mr Pyne said.
“International education is Australia’s fourth largest export industry overall and our largest services export ahead of tourism, so maintaining our strong reputation for quality is important.”
Article Via: theaustralian