As per the announcement of August 26, 2023, the government of Australia set a package of measures to protect the honour and reputation of the universities.
5 universities took action to restrict candidates from Indian states. As per the media, Australia banned fraud applications from South Asia who immigrate to work not to study in this country. Moreover, Australia is on its way to the biggest annual intake of Indian aspirants, beating 2019’s record of 75,000.
However, the recent scenario brings concern about the long-term impact on the international profitable education market and the dignity and integrity of the Australian Universities in the education sector, and lawmakers, according to the report of “The Sydney Morning Herald “ newspaper.
- Locking all the loopholes of immigration policy that enables education providers to transfer international aspirants who are staying in Australia for less than 6 months from the purpose of studying but arranging designed to get access to do the job in Australia. This flaw is related to the aspirants, they can get into concurrent Confirmation of Enrolments (COEs) for 2 sections of the program Vocation Training (VET) and Higher Education. As of now, universities are not creating concurrent COEs.
- “Our Motive is Clear,” statement passed by Clare O’Neil “Minister of Home Affairs.” The party is over now, all the loopholes and frauds that have troubled this system are going to be shut down.”
- To address concerns in the Australian international education sector, the government is implementing several measures aimed at safeguarding the integrity of the system and preventing exploitation. These changes reflect the government’s commitment to maintaining high standards and ensuring that international students have a positive experience while studying in Australia.
Increased Financial Requirements
One significant change is the decision to raise the savings threshold for international students applying for an Australian study visa by 17%. This adjustment, requiring students to have $24,505 in savings, acknowledges the higher costs of living in Australia. The primary objective here is to reduce the financial desperation that could push students into exploitative work situations while they pursue their studies.
Scrutiny of High-Risk Cohorts
The government is also intensifying scrutiny of “high-risk cohorts” among prospective international students, who tend to submit a higher number of fraudulent applications. This increased scrutiny aims to identify and address potential fraudulent activities more effectively.
An important step, albeit a potentially unprecedented one, is the government’s consideration of using its suspension powers under Section 97 of the Education Services for Overseas Students Act (ESOS Act). These powers would allow the government to issue suspension certificates to high-risk education providers, preventing them from recruiting international students. This action is prompted by concerns about over 200 providers with visa refusal rates exceeding 50%.
VET Sector Oversight
The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) is set to receive additional powers to regulate Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) more effectively. RTO owners will be required to meet “Fit and Proper Person” requirements to register their businesses and operate within the sector. This initiative aims to eliminate non-genuine operators that profit from students while failing to meet educational and training standards.
These measures are part of a broader effort to enhance the integrity of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector in Australia. Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor, emphasizes the importance of VET in preparing students for future job opportunities.
The context for these changes arises from concerns about immigration loopholes that have allowed non-genuine students to exploit the system. Minister for Education Jason Clare highlights the value of international education but acknowledges the challenges posed by unscrupulous operators.
One concerning trend addressed is “course hopping,” where students exploit the ability to obtain two Confirmations of Enrolment (COEs) on the same visa, allowing them to shift between institutions with ease. This practice has been linked to the desire to work in Australia rather than pursuing their stated intent of studying.
Additionally, the government plans to phase out the subclass 408 visa, which has allowed international students to work in various sectors with minimal oversight during the pandemic.
This tightening of regulations reflects a broader trend in leading destination countries, including Canada, where authorities are reviewing and strengthening regulations to ensure the quality and integrity of their international education sectors.
In conclusion, the Australian government’s measures aim to maintain the integrity of its international education sector, protect students from exploitation, and ensure that institutions meet high-quality standards. These changes, combined with ongoing efforts to address immigration loopholes, underscore the commitment to offering international students a safe and reputable educational experience in Australia.