Higher Education

Australia relaxes student Visa rules

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Australian Minister for immigration and citizenship, Chris Bowen, and the minister of Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, announced today a strategic review of the student visa program and package to measures to ease the pressure on the Australia's multibillion dollar education export industry. Australia has, in last 12 months, seen a sharp decline in its multibillion dollar education export industry.

The student visa changes announced today focus largely on the financial requirements of obtaining the student visas from various countries. Indian students, considering pursuing bachelor degree, associate degree, graduate certificate, graduate diploma or masters by course work in Australia, would now find it easier to meet the financial requirements as a result of India been upgraded as a lesser risk country for Higher Education Sector.

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These new changes would mean that the students now need to demonstrate lesser funds in order to obtain the student visa for higher education sector. For all the student visa applications that would be lodged on or after April 1 2011, the students would need to show funds for only 2 years of their studies instead of the currently required 3 years. Moreover, such funds are required to be only 3 months old against 6 months old requirements as it is currently in place. The new law that comes into effect in April 2011 will allow the students to be sponsored by any individual against the current legal requirement that limits the sponsorship to applicant's spouse, parents, siblings, grandparents and uncle or aunt meeting certain criterion.

Naresh Gulati, CEO of Oceanic Consultants, welcomed the move by Australian government and said 'The changes announced today would help Australia regain its position as a more favorable destination amongst Indian students than its current levels. A large number of students, who wanted to study in Australia, considered other destinations just because they found the financial requirements for the Australian student visa far more stringent than those of other countries. This would change and we would see traffic to Australia increasing.' The changes announced today also bring down the financial requirements for the student who prepay their boarding through the educational Institutions in Australia as the amount equivalent to the prepaid amount would be reduced from the required funds. These changes come in effect from 16 December 2010.

Gulati expressed his concern about the abuse by student visas by some students and agents alike. He said, 'It is unfortunate that some students and agents are using student visas as a means of back door entry to various countries. The desperation to go aboard amongst the youth has led to mushrooming of large number of unscrupulous agents who are looking at making quick buck at the cost of student and family's future. The students and their families must look at choosing the right institutions and channels to pursue their higher education abroad. Students supporting fraudulent documentation or means would only make their future uncertain. They may just be closing their doors forever to going abroad.'


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