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International students supported by Knight review changes

International students supported by Knight review changes

A recent announcement from the immigration minister Chris Bowen has explained how changes to key elements of the student migration visa system will help to boost the international education industry.

"From March 24, we are implementing streamlined visa processing arrangements for prospective students enrolled in Bachelor, Masters or Doctoral degrees at participating universities, making the application process simpler and faster," explained Mr Bowen.

"International education plays a vital role in a growing economy, educational outcomes and Australia's diplomatic engagement with other countries, so it's important that we give it the best possible support."

The changes are aimed at providing students in possession of related immigration visas with access to more flexible working arrangements.

In turn it is hoped that these concessions will help to make it easier for employers to meet the conditions required by their education-related visas.

One of the most prominent changes to be put in place is the abolishment of restricted working hours that postgraduate students on the 574 subclass are able to make use of - giving them an unlimited access to employment that could enhance their education.

In order to meet the Knight review's recommendation on better social integration for international students, both the visas for applicants and their guardians will allow better access to English language study options.

One of the more controversial measures put in place has been the reduction of the need for 'high-risk schools sector' applicants to submit evidence of an English language proficiency test - regardless of their country of origin.

In the past, this kind of move has been criticised for having a profound effect on the classroom environment - with educators feeling they may be obligated to provide special content to international students who may struggle with written and verbal communication.

However, according to Mr Bowen, the moves have been embraced by local institutions, with many already registering their interest with the immigration department.

He stated: "Universities in Australia have embraced the opportunity to sign up to the arrangements, which are expected to help boost international enrolments for semester two 2012 and beyond."

Further moves made by the minister include the introduction of new legislation - the Student Legislation Amendment (Student Visas) Bill - to parliament that if passed would eliminate the automated visa cancellation systems for international students, amongst other measures.

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