Australian varsities: Ease visa restrictions for India, China

Melbourne, Beleaguered Australian universities have come together to plead for easing of visa restrictions for students from India and China. The two most populous countries in the world provide the vast bulk of international students to Australia. There has been a significant drop in students from India putting many self-funded Australian universities and other higher education providers in deep financial crisis.

Though the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) recently eased the visa norms for India and 37 other countries, a body representing Australian universities want more relaxations to save the third largest export of the country.

There has been a call to revamp the Assessment Level system which decides the key requirements like financials and English Language requirements for the international students interested in Australian education. Currently, students from India and China are classified under Assessment Level 3 and 4. The visa requirements become stringent as the level goes up.

“Broadly, the extraordinary burden placed on high quality university students from Assessment Level 3 and 4 countries, particularly in terms of financial proof, is critically prohibitive to the ongoing sustainability of the international education industry,” Universities Australia (UA) said in a submission to the Knight Review of Student Visa Program. The submission suggests varied Assessment Levels within countries like China and India.

The need for selective Assessment Levels has been made as “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”, UA argued in the submission to the review body. The Universities Australia has blamed “Commonwealth” agencies for not acting in time to prevent fraudulent practices even though “the triple digit growth in 572 visas from Nepal and India (Punjab) was very obvious” in 2009-10. The subclass 572 visas were granted to students enrolled in vocational courses like hairdressing and cookery.