26 September 2011

South Australian Government calls for extension of student visa reforms

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The Government of South Australia has called for the Australian Federal Government's student visa reforms to be extended to the vocational education and training (VET) sector.

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South Australian Government wants student visa reforms implemented in the VET sector to stop the decline in international demand in the state.

South Australian Employment, Training and Further Education Minister Jack Snelling has named "visa entry requirements" as one of the key factors behind a decline in international demand for VET courses across the state.

Research released by Education Adelaide today has shown that 1517 international students enrolled in South Australian VET courses this year, down from 2300 new enrolments last year.

"The SA Government is calling for the swift development of a risk-based provider model so that high-quality VET providers and other private international universities are on a similar playing field to our public universities to attract international students," he said.

Earlier this week, the Federal Government announced a number of reforms in response to a commissioned review of the process by which international students can obtain an Australian visa for study in the country.  The review - conducted by former NSW government minister Michael Knight AO - recommended reforms including streamlined visa processing, a reduction of application fees and overhaul of the current visa risk management framework, among others.

In a statement issued by Federal Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans on 22 September 2011, the Australian Government said it will adopt all 41 of the Knight Review's recommendations.

However, the statement indicated that reforms will apply only to "international students enrolled in courses at the level of bachelor degree or higher".

The South Australian Government would like to see the Knight Review reforms implemented in the VET sector as well.

"SA has many great, high-quality VET providers, such as TAFE, Le Cordon Bleu and the International College of Hotel Management, and it's important that the Knight Review also allows them to become more competitive in attracting international students," Mr Snelling said.

Migration Institute of Australia SA and NT president Mark Glazbrook has highlighted the potential detriment to the state economy should the decline continue.

"International students play a very important part when you look at the local economy because they have to buy things here like clothes and food. They will work in restaurants, drive cabs, work in aged care and areas where other people don't want to work, so we will see a decrease in people filling those jobs," he said.


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