How to Get a Student Visa to Study in Australia

The process for applying for a student visa in Australia will be made easier now that the government has agreed to the suggestions made during a review of the system.

One of Australia’s most important newspapers, The Australian, called the review “a jewel” and praised its clarity, depth, and even the fun way it is written.

But Australia’s 39 universities and people who want to study at one of them will be most happy with Michael Knight’s review of the student visa process because of the nature of the 41 proposals made in it. All 41 of these proposals have been approved by the Australian government.

System made easier

People have been eagerly waiting for the report to come out. It was ordered in December 2010, and different groups sent their ideas to Knight during a consultation period in March. Around 200 ideas were sent, and the final report was sent to the Australian government at the end of June.

The report was finally released on September 22, along with an announcement that the government agreed with the ideas.

Those who want to study in Australia will be glad to hear the news. The hard visa process, which is said to be a big reason why the number of international students in Australia has gone down since 2009, has been made easier.

The changes will be especially good for students from Asian countries like India and China, who had to follow some of the strictest rules even though they made up the largest group of international students.

The main change is that students who want to study at degree level will now be treated mostly as if they were at a lower assessment level (the Australian visa system puts applicants at different levels, each with different requirements).

This level depends on the student’s home country. In the past, students who were in one of the higher assessment levels, like those from the two countries listed above, had to meet a set of requirements that could be difficult.

Financial requirements eased

For example, higher-level students would have to show that they have enough money to pay for their tuition and living costs for the first 24–36 months of their stay in Australia.

When the amount was calculated to be A$18,000, this meant that the student or their family had to put a huge A$36,000-54,000 in a bank account for several months on top of finding the money for international student fees at Australian universities.

As you can imagine, these numbers are pretty scary, even for people with a fair amount of money. Now, the student only has to show they have enough money for one year, which is a much easier fee to pay.

With the change, the universities will be in charge of a lot of the process. They have been told that with more power comes more responsibility. If they are found to be giving out visas without thinking, they will be punished by having to go back to the old system, which will cost them a lot in terms of the number of international students.

Future employment

Knight also thinks that Australian university graduates should be able to work in the country for two years after they finish school.

At the moment, there is no way for graduates to stay in Australia and work. This makes Australia seem unwelcoming and decreases the amount of value a student can get from studying there.

This will be extended to three years for students who have a research master’s, and to four years for those who have a PhD. The 20-hour-a-week limit on working hours for research students will also be lifted. Knight thinks that research students are especially important to the creation of jobs, so he wants to make sure they can work more.

The author says that the changes are needed because Australia’s second-biggest export, international students, is threatened by competition. If nothing was done, the number of international students has been going down for a few years and would only keep going down if nothing was done.

If this happened, it would cost Australia a lot of money for no good reason. As Knight points out, the university sector is stable and easy to control because of its size, and very few international students want to take advantage of the system.

Most things will stay the same in the VET (vocational education and training) sector, but the streamlined process will also apply to vocational and intensive English language courses that are linked to university courses.

The changes won’t happen right away; they won’t take effect until the second semester of the 2012 school year (which in Australia runs parallel to the calendar year).

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