Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has relaxed visa restrictions for students from 29 countries.
15 February 2012
Australian visa rules relaxed for students from 29 countries
Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has announced that requirements for an Australian visa will be relaxed for students from 29 countries.
After ex-politician Michael Knight published a scathing report on the Australian visa application system and reports of a struggling education sector surfaced, a reform of the application process had been expected for some time.
However, despite the so called 'Knight reforms' calling for a complete review which included several restrictions being tightened, Mr Bowen has instead opted to only implement relaxations to the current system, claiming this will benefit the education industry.
"While it was recommended that some assessment levels be increased, I have decided to only implement the reductions in order to best support Australia's international education sector," said Mr Bowen.
Mr Bowen claimed that the new relaxations could potentially benefit as many as 10,500 would-be students.
The new relaxations, which are expected to take effect from 24, March, will make it easier for students travelling to Australia to study either English language (ELCIOS) or vocational education (VET) courses to obtain a student visa.
Students from a total of 29 countries will be moved from their current application level to lower levels, with the lower the level resulting in an easier application.
Countries moving to the most basic AL1 level include Bhutan, China, Ecuador, Egypt, India and Indonesia as well as Bulgaria, South Korea and Mexico.
Australian immigration has come under scrutiny in recent weeks with many blaming the education industry's struggle on arduous visa application processes, a lack of state assistance for foreign students and the rising Australian dollar meaning students can get more for their money in other countries.
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy London.