Australia is cracking down on student visa fraud

Australia is closing a loophole that allowed international students to switch from genuine study programs to arrangements designed for easier access to work opportunities in Australia.

The Australian government has announced a series of measures to safeguard the reputation and integrity of the country's international education sector. The measures, which take effect immediately, include:

  • Closing a loophole allowed education providers to transition international students from genuine study programs to arrangements designed for easier work opportunities in Australia. This loophole involved concurrent Confirmations of Enrolment (COEs) for programs in both higher education and vocational training sectors. Institutions are now prohibited from creating concurrent COEs.
  • Increasing financial requirements for international students applying for an Australian study visa. The minimum savings requirement has been raised by 17% to $24,505. This is intended to prevent students from being forced into exploitative work due to financial difficulties.
  • Subjecting "high-risk cohorts" of prospective students to increased scrutiny. These cohorts are known for submitting a higher volume of fraudulent applications. This measure is designed to curb fraudulent practices and maintain the integrity of the system.
  • Considering the use of suspension powers to issue certificates to high-risk education providers. These certificates would prevent such providers from recruiting international students. This would be the first time such suspension powers have been used.

The government also plans to closely monitor the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector. The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) will be granted increased authority to regulate Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), and RTO owners will be required to meet "Fit and Proper Person" Requirements for business registration. This is aimed at eliminating unscrupulous operators who profit from students without delivering the expected standards of education and training.

Minister for Education Jason Clare said the government was committed to strengthening the integrity of the international education sector and ensuring that students have a safe and enriching experience. He acknowledged that there were challenges posed by unscrupulous actors who exploit students, but said the government was taking steps to address these challenges.

The announcement has been welcomed by the international education sector, which has been concerned about the rise in fraudulent practices and the exploitation of students. Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said the measures were "a positive step" and would help to protect the reputation of the sector.

The government's announcement aligns with similar measures being taken by other countries. In Canada, for example, the government is exploring a Trusted Institution framework to enhance oversight of international education institutions.

The Australian government's measures are a welcome step towards safeguarding the international education sector. They send a clear message that the government is committed to protecting students and ensuring that the sector is fair and transparent.

Source: ICEF

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