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Knight Review of the Student visa program—stage one implementation

This is a guest post written by Bingbing, who works in the department’s Student Implementation Taskforce Section.

 What is the Knight Review?

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 the integrity of the student visa program.  All of the recommendations have been accepted in principle by the government and stage one of the changes was implemented on 5 November 2011.

See: www.immi.gov.au/students/knight/

 Why are the changes being made?

The changes are being made in order to help make Australia a destination of choice for international students.  Fewer international students have been coming to Australia in recent years because of a number of factors, including the high Australian dollar and increased global competition.  The government is determined to give the international education sector—one of Australia’s largest export sectors—a boost.

 What changes were introduced on 5 November 2011?

1.  A new genuine temporary entrant (GTE) requirement

 The GTE requirement addresses whether the individual circumstances of a Student visa applicant indicate that their intention is for a temporary stay inAustralia.  This new requirement aims to help maintain the integrity of the student visa program.

2.  Reductions in the financial requirements

 While not a Knight Review recommendation, the financial requirements for higher risk assessment level 3 and 4, student visa applicants were reduced by up to approximately AUD 36 000.  This helps students who wish to obtain a visa to study in the vocational education and training (VET) sector.

 3.  Removing English language test requirements for ELICOS visa applicants

 Stand alone English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) (subclass 570) visa applicants who are subject to assessment level 4 and above, are no longer required to provide evidence of an English language proficiency test as part of their visa application.  This helps to make English language study more accessible.

4.  Stopping the pre-visa assessment (PVA) policy

 Education providers no longer need to receive a PVA letter from us before they can issue a confirmation of enrolments (CoE) to students.  This change is intended to reduce the time it takes to process a student visa.

 5.  Changes to policy for prepaid homestay fees 

Prepaid fees for formal homestay arrangements through education providers are now taken into account when assessing whether an applicant meets the financial requirements for a student visa.  This change helps to reduce the financial burdens on some Student visa applicants.

 6.  Increasing the visa period for new Postgraduate Research visa grants

 The visa period for Postgraduate Research (subclass 574) visas granted from
5 November 2011 have been increased by six months. This extra time is to allow for interactive marking of a thesis.

 More information

You can access Mr Knight’s full report, fact sheets and frequently asked questions on the stage one and proposed stage two Knight Review changes on the department’s website: www.immi.gov.au/students/knight/

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