24 September 2008

Australian educational sector attracting more earnings than tourism

A recent report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows the international students market is making the country more money than international tourism.

The figures in the report show that exports from education reached $13.7 billion in the 2007/08 financial year, while tourism exports made it to $12 billion.

The record figures for the education sector are the result of a massive upsurge of applications for an Australian student visa.  Figures from Australian Education International confirmed that over the past year, enrolments were up 44 per cent on the previous year for Vocational Education and Training (VET), by 23.4 per cent for intensive English language courses for Australian visa holders, and by 10.94 per cent for school-goers.

In related news, the Australian Government has recently introduced changes to the student visa programme’s Assessment Levels (ALs), which applications for Australian student visas are assessed against.  The changes mean the ALs in 43 countries have been amended.  All applications for a student visa from nationals in these countries are now subject to these amendments.  All applications which were already being processed before the 01 September 2008 will not be affected by the changes.

As part of the changes, the immigration risk of more than half of the 43 countries has been lowered to Assessment Level 1, including Brazil, Botswana, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, South Africa and Thailand, meaning they now have to provide the lowest level of evidence to support their student visa application. 

Although the changes will increase security against students from higher risk countries, the DIAC has said the majority of international students "have nothing to fear" from the legislative changes.  The changes mean the visa process for many international students will be streamlined by reducing their assessment level.  All others who are affected by the changes will have to provide a higher level of evidence of their English language ability, academic qualifications and their ability to support themselves financially during their studies.

In the year 2007-08, the number of international students enrolled in Australia increased by 22 per cent on the previous year to 228,000 visas granted. 

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for an Australia visa.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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