The Business Council of Australia has welcomed the federal government’s decision to streamline visa requirements for international students as part of its response to the Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program.
BCA President Graham Bradley said the suite of measures announced today by Ministers Chris Evans and Chris Bowen would support the future viability of the higher education sector, one of Australia’s biggest export industries.
“The value of international education to Australia extends well beyond immediate economic returns by delivering significant social and diplomatic benefits, particularly within our region,” said Mr Bradley.
Mr Bradley said that while there were a number of reasons for the recent decline in international student enrolments, previous changes to student visa requirements had had an adverse impact on the sector.
“Today’s announcement effectively allows universities to make their own assessment of the suitability of international applicants for their courses and to manage any attendant risks,” said Mr Bradley.
“More liberal post-study work visa arrangements for graduate and postgraduate international students allowing them to stay in Australia to gain practical work experience or undertake postdoctoral research will go a long way towards restoring the competitiveness of our universities.”
Mr Bradley noted the decision to subject international students applying for school or VET sector courses to a higher risk rating and more stringent visa requirements than those applying for higher education places.
“The BCA recognises that the quality of providers in the VET sector is more variable and that closer regulatory oversight is warranted. But we would urge the government to move as swiftly as practicable to implement a regulatory framework that allows for quicker and more streamlined assessment of international student applicants for high-quality courses offered by low-risk providers in the VET sector.
“Restoring the strength and competitiveness of international education across all education sectors is an important aspect of securing Australia’s future prosperity, as well as our engagement within the region.”
Mr Bradley said the establishment of an Education Visa Consultative Committee would provide an important ongoing source of industry advice to government in that regard.