At the end of 2010, the Hon Michael Knight AO was appointed to conduct the first independent review of the Student visa program (the Knight Review).
Mr Knight made 41 recommendations in his report, Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program 2011, to improve the competitiveness of the Australian international education sector and to strengthen the integrity of the Student visa program. All of the recommendations have been accepted in principle by the government. For more information, visit www.immi.gov.au/students/knight/
Stage one of the Knight Review changes was implemented in late 2011 and a number of key stage two Knight Review changes were implemented recently on 24 and 26 March. The remaining stage two changes are proposed to be implemented later in 2012 and in early 2013.
Changes implemented for applications made on or after 24 March 2012
- Streamlined visa processing for applicants studying Bachelor, Masters and Doctoral courses at participating universities in Australia are assessed as though they are a lower risk (similar to the current Assessment Level 1), regardless of their country of origin. This means that these applicants will generally have reduced evidentiary requirements when applying for a Student visa.
- The maximum period of English language study that a Schools sector (subclass 571) visa applicant subject to Assessment Level (AL) 3 and above can undertake, has been increased to 50 weeks. Prior to 24 March 2012, the maximum period of English language study for Schools sector applicants was 40 weeks for AL 3, 30 weeks for AL 4 and nil for AL 5. The arrangements for AL 1 and AL 2 applicants remain unchanged, with no English language study period restrictions.
- New Student Guardian (subclass 580) visa holders can undertake English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) study on a part-time basis (less than 20 hours per week) for the duration of their visa. However this change only applies to ELICOS study—other study restrictions remain unchanged.
Changes implemented on 26 March 2012
- More flexible work conditions for Student visa holders have come into effect. Postgraduate Research (subclass 574) visa holders can now work unlimited hours once their courses have started and all other Student visa holders work entitlements are now 40 hours each fortnight instead of 20 hours each week.
- The above changes apply to both new and existing Student visa holders.
You can access Mr Knight’s full report, fact sheets and frequently asked questions on the stage one and stage two Knight Review changes on the department’s website: www.immi.gov.au/students/knight/