Overseas students: immigration policy changes 1997–2015

25 February 2016

PDF version [668KB]

Harriet Spinks (updating an earlier paper by Elsa Koleth)
Social Policy Section

 

Executive summary
  • The nexus between Australia’s overseas student program and permanent skilled migration is complex and constantly evolving. The Howard Government, keen to take advantage of the significant economic benefit provided by the international education sector, sought to attract overseas students through immigration policy measures which provided a pathway to permanent residency. This period saw a rapid growth in the numbers of temporary migrants, including students, transitioning to permanent residency through the skill stream of the Migration Program.
  • However, these measures also created unintended consequences. In particular, there was a rapid growth in the number of overseas students studying in the vocational education and training (VET) sector, and several commentators expressed concern that overseas students were exploiting the program as a pathway to permanent residency.
  • In response to significant concerns about the integrity of both the overseas student program and the skill stream of the Migration Program, the Rudd and Gillard Governments moved to decouple the overseas student program from skilled migration.
  • Concern about declining numbers of overseas students coming to Australia following the reforms of the Rudd-Gillard Government, and in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, resulted in reforms designed to restore confidence in the program and encourage overseas student enrolments, but these were largely limited to the university sector.
  • The Abbott Government announced soon after being elected that it intended to encourage increased enrolments in the Vocational Education (VET) sector and restore confidence in Australia’s international education sector as a whole. While it has begun implementing further reforms designed to boost the VET sector, Australia has not seen a return to the explicit linkages between the overseas student program and permanent skilled migration that were a feature of the Howard era.

Contents

Executive summary
Introduction
Overview

The student visa framework
The student-migration nexus
Recent developments

Key policy developments

Howard Coalition Government
1997–2007
Rudd–Gillard Labor Government
2008–2013
Abbott Coalition Government
2013–2015

Concluding comments

Appendix A: chronology of government media releases 1997–2015
Appendix B: table of relevant immigration visa classes
Appendix C: glossary of acronyms and terms

 

All references accessed as of 17 December 2015.

Introduction

This paper provides a chronology that draws on ministerial press statements to trace changes in Australia’s immigration policy in relation to overseas students between 1997 and June 2015. Immigration policies introduced in this period fundamentally changed the nature of migration to Australia. Policy changes in this period were pivotal in facilitating the rapid growth of overseas student education in Australia by forging links between the temporary overseas student program and permanent skilled migration. Later reforms to both skilled migration and overseas student policy were also central to the decline in overseas student enrolments beginning in 2009–10. The paper begins its analysis in 1997 as this appears to be the point at which the Howard Government commenced making announcements about overseas students as an immigration issue.

The paper begins by briefly analysing the way in which the landscape of immigration policy in relation to overseas students has developed since 1997. This is followed by a summary charting key policy developments between 1997 and June 2015, and concluding observations on the consequences and possible impacts of recent immigration policy changes on overseas student education in Australia. Appendix A contains a detailed chronology of government media releases on immigration policy developments in relation to overseas students and skilled migration. As an aid to reading the paper, Appendix B identifies the visa classes referred to in the text of the paper, and Appendix C provides a glossary of acronyms and terms.[1]

Overview

Australia’s immigration system has undergone significant shifts in the past two decades. Among the key changes are shifts in the focus of the Migration Program from family migration to skilled migration and, in the overall immigration program, from permanent migration to long-term temporary migration.[2] In the context of these two changes, Australia’s immigration program has also seen a period of substantial growth in overseas student entrants.[3] Indeed, by 2007, Australia accounted for 11 per cent of the international student market and had seen a three-fold increase in student numbers over the previous ten years.[4] 

The student visa framework

There are currently seven different visa subclasses for overseas students wishing to study in Australia, depending on the kind of study which is to be undertaken. Each visa subclass may have slightly different eligibility criteria, but generally, in order to be eligible for a student visa, applicants must have been accepted into a registered course offered by an education or training provider which is on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). Applicants must also meet financial and English language requirements, which vary according to the visa subclass and the relevant visa assessment level (see below). They must also meet the general health and character requirements which apply to all visa applicants, and must maintain health insurance during their stay in Australia.[5]

Student Visa Assessment Levels are a measure of immigration risk for students from various countries across each education sector.[6] There are currently three assessment levels in the student visa program, with assessment level 1 representing the lowest risk and assessment level 3, the highest. The higher the assessment level, the more stringent is the eligibility criteria for the grant of a visa.[7]

The overseas student program is an uncapped, demand-driven program. This means that the government does not set any targets, nor place any caps on the number of visas available, and visa grant levels are determined entirely by the number of people who apply for, and meet the criteria for, a student visa. Figures published by the then Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) indicated that the number of student visa holders in Australia grew at an average annual rate of 13.9 per cent every year between 2001 and 2009, rising to a total of 386,523 student visa holders in the 12 months to the end of June 2009.[8]

However, from 2009 onwards, Australia experienced a softening in the numbers of overseas student applications. At the end of June 2012 the number of student visa holders in Australia had declined to 307,050.[9] This decline was a result of a combination of factors, including changes to available pathways to temporary and permanent skilled visas, negative student perceptions of safety, a strong Australian dollar and strong global competition for the overseas student market. These issues are discussed in further detail below. While the numbers have risen again, with 374,566 student visa holders present in Australia in June 2015, they have not seen a return to the peak levels of 2009. Similarly, as shown in Table 1, annual overseas student visa grants grew significantly from 1996–97 onwards, peaking at 319,632 in 2008–19, then declining each year for three years before gradually beginning to grow again in 2012–13.

Table 1: Overseas student visa grants, 1996–97 to 2014–15

Year
Overseas students
1996–97
113,000
1997–98
108,827
1998–99
110,894
1999–00
119,806
2000–01
146,577
2001–02
151,894
2002–03
162,575
2003–04
171,616
2004–05
174,786
2005–06
190,674
2006–07
230,807
2007–08
278,715
2008–09
319,632
2009–10
270,499
2010–11
250,438
2011–12
253,046
2012–13
259,278
2013–14
292,060
2014–15
299,540

Sources: J Phillips, M Klapdor and J Simon-Davies, Migration to Australia since Federation: a guide to the statistics, Background note, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 27 August 2010; DIBP, ‘Study in Australia - statistics’, visa statistics webpages.

The student-migration nexus

Growth in both the skilled migration program and overseas student program over the last two decades was seen by successive governments as instrumental in contributing to Australia’s economic growth in the face of challenges such as skills shortages and an ageing population. The Howard Government sought to attract overseas students in response to changing global economic conditions and migratory trends. The rapid growth of both the skilled stream of the Migration Program and the overseas student program occurred in a climate of intense international competition for highly skilled young migrants and overseas students.[10]

The recruitment of overseas students was a core element of the Howard Government’s strategy to remain competitive in this international environment. Overseas students were seen as both injecting significant amounts of money into the Australian economy and having the potential to yield returns by helping to meet Australia’s ongoing labour needs. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimated that the international education industry contributed $15.8 billion to the Australian economy in 2008–09, and up to $17.7 billion in the four quarters to December 2009, making education services Australia’s third largest export.[11] From a labour market perspective, research shows that former overseas students perform well in the Australian labour market compared to skilled migrants who applied from offshore (although the relative labour market advantage enjoyed by former overseas students varies depending on the country of origin and field of study).[12]

Through government statements and key policy decisions from the late 1990s federal governments have expressed a commitment to retaining successful overseas students with skills that are in demand, thereby encouraging such individuals to make the transition from temporary to permanent settlement through the skilled stream of the Migration Program. Such movements contributed to the rapidly growing trend of people coming to Australia on temporary work or study visas and applying for permanent residence onshore. Indeed, by 2007–08, approximately 40 per cent of visas granted in the skilled migration program went to temporary migrants who were already in Australia, largely overseas students and Business (Long Stay) (subclass 457) visa holders.[13] By 2012–13 the proportion had grown even higher, with around 57 per cent of permanent skilled migration visas going to applicants who were already in Australia.[14]

Demographers Andrew Markus, James Jupp and Peter McDonald have observed that ‘Australian immigration policy has facilitated the growth of the educational industry by offering the option of permanent settlement to those successfully completing courses in areas of high demand’.[15] In particular, academics, parliamentarians and other commentators have argued that the possibility of attaining permanent residency following study in Australia, combined with the priority attached to trade skills from 2005, induced the burgeoning of the vocational education and training (VET) sector and a dramatic increase in students applying to undertake VET courses.[16] The majority of the students driving this growth in the VET sector were from India.[17] In 2009 the Immigration Department reported that ‘[t]he number of student visa holders from India increased by 44.6 per cent from 63,558 on 30 June 2008 to 91,887 on 30 June 2009, making it the top source country’ for overseas students coming to Australia in that year.[18]

The global financial crisis in 2008 and the resultant economic downturn triggered changes to government policy on skilled migration. In March 2009 the skilled stream of Australia’s Migration Program was reduced for the first time in ten years, with the stated objective of protecting local jobs.[19] A review of the Migration Program in 2008 also led to the Government announcing that it would move to a ‘demand driven’ model for permanent skilled migration, with a focus on delivering the skills most needed in the economy.[20] This shift in policy focus was reflected in the introduction of a new Critical Skills List (CSL) and a revised order of preference for the processing of skilled visa applications which gave chief priority to employer sponsored visas. The CSL was limited to professional fields in health, IT, engineering and accountancy, and abandoned most of the trade occupations behind the growth of the vocational education sector. It was hoped that these policy changes would result in increases in employer-sponsored visas and in the numbers of temporary migrants already working in Australia being granted permanent visas onshore.[21] In the months following the introduction of these changes there was an increase in visa grants to registered nurses, computing professionals, engineers and doctors, and a decline in visa grants to cooks, chefs and pastry cooks, accountants and hairdressers.[22]

Recent developments

The evolution of immigration policy over the past 17 years has fostered the development of a complex nexus between the overseas student program and the skilled migration program.[23] One observer has noted that, by 2009, ‘... would-be migrants and educational institutions had realized there was an almost seamless pathway for international students to attain permanent residence if they enrolled in a course of study which would qualify them for an occupation featuring on the MODL’.[24] A 2009 Senate Committee Inquiry into the Welfare of International Students found that ‘[w]itnesses who appeared before the committee, including DIAC, gave evidence that over time a perception has developed that a student visa can provide an automatic pathway to permanent residency’.[25] Recent research confirms that many overseas students hope to remain permanently in Australia following completion of their studies, and that ‘post-study migration opportunities are a major factor behind choice of study destination’.[26]

However, from approximately 2005 onwards it became evident that the interaction between the overseas student program and general skilled migration was producing unintended and problematic outcomes. Issues that emerged as a result of this nexus included: a concentration of overseas students in the vocational education sector in the pursuit of permanent residency; the failure of some former overseas students to achieve employment outcomes that were commensurate with their qualifications; and failure to obtain skill levels that would meet Australia’s skill needs.[27] Concerns also emerged concerning the exploitation of students themselves. Witnesses before the 2009 Senate Committee Inquiry into the Welfare of International Students alleged that some private education providers were exploiting overseas students by explicitly using the promise of a permanent visa to attract them and, in some cases, not providing the course which had been paid for.[28] Similarly, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) observed in 2010 that ‘... there have also been concerns that some providers and agents have put migration outcomes before a quality education for students.’[29]

Many of these and other issues surrounding the operation of international education and the welfare of overseas students in Australia came to a head in May 2009 when reports of violence against Indian international students triggered protests in Melbourne and Sydney. These events attracted much public attention, both domestically and abroad, and highlighted not only concerns about safety, but also many other issues facing overseas students, such as racism, workplace exploitation, and fraudulent conduct by private education providers targeting overseas students with the promise of permanent residency.[30]

The Australian Government embarked on intense diplomatic efforts to salvage Australia’s reputation as a destination for international students and to clarify the distinctions between the objectives of student visas and permanent residency.[31] In particular, Australian Government Ministers on visits to India emphasised that studying in Australia was not a guarantee of a permanent visa.[32] The Government established taskforces on international student safety and wellbeing and developed a National International Student Strategy through COAG. It also commissioned a report from the Australian Institute of Criminology to examine the extent to which Indian students were the victims of crime by comparison with Australian populations. The research found that attacks on Indian students were largely opportunistic rather than racially motivated.[33]  

Ultimately, these events served to catalyse the establishment of formal investigations into the operation of the international education sector in Australia.[34] The links between international student education and Australia’s Migration Program were among the issues that were scrutinised in the course of these reviews.

One of the Australian Government’s key responses to the challenges emerging from international student education in Australia was to introduce significant reforms to skilled migration in February 2010.[35] In making these changes the Government explicitly called for the attainment of overseas student visas to be decoupled from other migration outcomes, such as permanent residency, and sought to make access to permanent migration contingent upon the achievement of concrete employment outcomes.[36]

While the 2010 reforms were welcomed by many who had been concerned about the link between the overseas student program and permanent skilled migration, the higher education sector was alarmed by the fall in international student numbers that was experienced in the wake of both these reforms and the global financial crisis of 2009—visa grants dropped by almost 16 per cent from 2008–09 to 2009–10.[37] In light of these concerns, and ongoing concerns regarding the integrity of the student visa program, in December 2010 the Government ordered a strategic review (the Knight Review) of the student visa program.[38] The Review was tasked with considering the quality, integrity and competitiveness of the program.

The report of the Knight Review was released in September 2011. It contained 41 detailed recommendations which centred on streamlined processing of visas for applicants in the university sector, and post-study work rights for university graduates.[39] Since 2011 there have been several key changes to the overseas student program, largely focused on the university sector, as the Government has implemented the recommendations of the Knight Review. While these reforms were welcomed by education providers for whom international students are an important source of revenue, some commentators cautioned that the provision of post-study work rights to university graduates could result in further unintended consequences. Migration researcher Peter Mares argued, for example, that the policy was likely to lead to the creation of a group of long-term temporary migrants, many of whom would seek to remain in Australia permanently, thus placing excessive pressure on Australia’s permanent migration program and causing a blow out in waiting times for permanent visas.[40]

Upon forming government in 2013, the Coalition indicated that it was concerned that the policy pendulum with regards to restoring integrity to the overseas student program had swung too far in the opposite direction, and that changes made by the previous Labor Government were threatening Australia’s position as a sought after destination for overseas students. By 2012–13 total export earnings from the international education sector had declined to $14.6 billion dollars.[41]

One of first announcements from the incoming Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, was that the Coalition Government would ‘... move quickly to begin undoing Labor’s damage to Australia’s international education sector—and restore it as one of Australia’s most important economic contributors.’[42] In this context, the Coalition has begun implementing measures designed to restore growth, particularly in the vocational education sector. It has not, however, advocated a return to an explicit linkage between the overseas student program and skilled migration, for example, through skilled migration policies which provide an advantage to graduates from Australian institutions, which were the hallmark of the Howard Government. Rather, the current Coalition Government has thus far limited its reforms to changes to the student visa framework aimed largely at encouraging student visa applications from VET students.

Key policy developments

The following section traces the key immigration policy announcements and changes under the Howard, Rudd–Gillard and Abbott Governments that facilitated the development of the overseas student program within Australia’s immigration system between 1997 and December 2014. A more detailed catalogue of relevant ministerial media releases is presented in Appendix A.

Howard Coalition Government

1997–2007

  • In 1998 the Howard Government announced the provision of $21 million over four years for a major international marketing campaign to promote Australia’s education and training services industry overseas. The marketing campaign was focused on traditional Asian markets as well as relatively untapped student markets such as India, The People’s Republic of China (hereafter referred to as China), Europe, and North and South America. The campaign was run by the Commonwealth-funded body, Australian Education International (AEI).[43]
  • The skilled stream of Australia’s Migration Program was increased from 29 per cent in 1995–96 to over 50 per cent in 2000, and continued to grow in subsequent years. The increase in skilled migration was central to the Government’s response to the challenges of skills shortages and an ageing population.[44]
  • In August 1998 the Government announced that, from July 1999, the points test used to assess skilled migrants for General Skilled Migration (GSM) (applicable to skilled migrants who are not sponsored by an employer) was modified to grant five additional points where an applicant obtained their diploma, trade or degree from an Australian educational institution, giving such applicants a competitive advantage over applicants who had not obtained their qualification in Australia. This change enhanced the ability of eligible former overseas students to migrate to Australia on a permanent basis and was seen as increasing Australia’s global competitiveness in attracting more overseas students and skilled migrants.[45]
  • In March 1999 the Government announced the introduction of the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL)—a list of occupations that were deemed to be in national shortage. From May 1999 skilled migration applicants with occupations on the MODL were able to receive bonus points in a new selection test, and were accorded processing priority. The placement of occupations on the MODL in coming years played a key role in spurring growth in overseas student numbers.[46]
  • Government statements in 2000 indicated that the Government recognised the globalisation of the labour market and the growing importance of temporary residents in the Australian economy. Long-term temporary migration, such as migration for work and study, was seen as a touchstone for the future of migration internationally. The Government’s skilled migration and overseas student programs were developed in the context of intense international competition for skilled migrants and for overseas students.[47]
  • From July 2001 overseas students with key skills that were needed in the economy who successfully completed their course of study at an Australian institution, and met other general eligibility requirements, were able to make an onshore application for permanent residency through the Skilled-Independent (and related) visa categories of the GSM program (previously they had to leave Australia and apply offshore). Students were required to make their applications within six months of completing their Australian course. Unlike skilled migrants who applied offshore, former overseas students who made applications onshore were exempted from the requirement of obtaining work experience in their nominated occupation.[48]
  • The drawing of a direct link between the overseas student program and skilled migration attracted strong growth in overseas student numbers, leading to a 27 per cent increase in offshore student visa grants between 2001 and 2003. It also led to strong growth in demand for permanent migration from former overseas students who obtained qualifications in Australia, with former students comprising almost half of those granted independent skilled migration visas through the GSM. Due to the high demand for permanent migration from former students, the Government increased the pass mark for all skilled migration applications received after May 2002 from 110 to 115 points.[49]
  • From July 2003 former overseas students wishing to apply for GSM were required to complete a minimum of two years of study physically in Australia (rather than one year as previously required) in order to qualify for bonus points in the selection test, and to be exempt from requiring skilled work experience.[50]
  • In December 2003 the Government introduced changes to the overseas student program to allow greater flexibility on financial requirements (such as the need to have sufficient funds to live and study in Australia) and English proficiency requirements for some student visa applicants. The changes allowed for a greater range of acceptable financial evidence for student visa applicants from some high-risk countries. English proficiency requirements were modified to accommodate students who had previously studied in certain English-speaking countries, and to allow some students to undertake foundation English language courses before undergraduate study. These changes were aimed at aiding continued growth in the international student sector.[51]
  • The Government noted that there had been a recognisable shift in the way people migrate to Australia. Whereas in the past the majority of skilled migrants entered Australia after obtaining a permanent visa offshore, applicants for permanent skilled migration were now predominantly drawn from the ranks of those who were already in Australia under a temporary visa, largely skilled workers and overseas students.[52]
  • In recognition of an increase in student visa approvals and falling non-compliance levels among overseas students (indicating lower than expected compliance related risk amongst overseas students), from April 2005 the Government decided to lower student visa assessment levels, including English language requirements and financial tests for student visa applicants from certain countries and education sectors, making it easier for many applicants to meet the requirements for the grant of a student visa.[53]
  • From April 2005 the pass mark for selection under the GSM was increased from 115 to 120 points. This increase in the overall mark required to qualify for skilled migration heightened the importance of obtaining bonus points from an occupation that was listed on the MODL. Under the previous pass mark of 115 only 9 per cent of skilled migration applicants nominated an occupation on the MODL, but a year after the increase of the pass mark 42 per cent of applicants nominated an occupation on the MODL in order to acquire bonus points. [54]
  • In May 2005 the Government increased the number of trades occupations listed on the MODL, including cooking and hospitality. This change was instrumental in accelerating the growth of the vocational education sector and in the number of overseas students enrolling in vocational education courses.[55]
  • In 2005 and 2006 studies revealed that while, generally, skilled migrants were achieving high levels of employment, former overseas students may not have been achieving employment outcomes that were commensurate with their skills and qualifications. Evidence suggested that strong English language skills and relevant work experience were crucial to achieving good employment outcomes.[56]
  • In response to the findings of studies on the employment outcomes of skilled migrants the Government introduced changes to requirements for the GSM program, including an increase in the base level of English language proficiency and a greater emphasis on work experience in the points test. A temporary visa mechanism was introduced to enable overseas students, who were exempt from work experience requirements, but who may have needed some skilled work experience to qualify for skilled migration after the introduction of these changes, to gain the requisite experience.[57] 

Rudd–Gillard Labor Government

2008–2013

  • The Rudd Government increased the permanent skilled migration program by 6000 places in February 2008 and by a further 31,000 places in May 2008. This represented a 30 per cent increase on the skilled component in the 2007–08 Migration Program. Skilled migration comprised 70 per cent of the 2008–09 Migration Program, with 133,500 places allocated within a total Migration Program of 190,300 places—the largest program on record.[58]
  • In April 2008 the Rudd Government reformed student visas to automatically grant overseas students the right to work for up to 20 hours a week while their course was in session. Previously, students were required to make a separate application for the right to work after being granted a student visa. The Government also introduced a streamlined visa process for student visa applicants from India, Indonesia, and Thailand to enable their visa information to be stored electronically, rather than requiring a visa label in their passports.[59]
  • In response to a significant downturn in the global economic outlook in the latter part of 2008 the Government announced the shift to a ‘demand driven’ model for permanent skilled migration, with a focus on employer and government sponsored migration that would meet specific skills needs in the economy. Under this model, applications for employer sponsored visas (that is, from those applicants with a confirmed job offer in Australia) would be fast-tracked, and given priority over applications for independent skilled visas (applicants with no confirmed job offer in Australia).[60]
  • In 2009 the Government reduced the planned level of permanent skilled migration by 20 per cent. It also introduced increased English language requirements and a targeted skills testing regime for trades-related occupations to ensure migrants were ready to enter the labour market. The Government indicated that fewer trade-based visas would be granted in 2009–10.[61]
  • Reports of violence against Indian international students prompted intense diplomatic efforts to salvage Australia’s reputation as a destination for international students. The Government’s response included the launch of taskforces on international student safety and wellbeing, the development of a National International Student Strategy by COAG and reviews of international student education in Australia.[62]
  • DIAC data revealed that, since June 2001, the number of student visa holders in Australia had grown by an average rate of 13.9 per cent per annum. Student visa applications grew by 20 per cent in 2008–09, while the number of student visas granted grew by 15.2 per cent, resulting in a total of 320,368 student visa grants in that year. The number of visa grants in the VET sector (subclass 572 visas) increased by 52.2 per cent in 2008–09, while the share of VET sector visas in the broader overseas student program increased from 25 per cent in 2007–08 to 32 per cent in 2008–09. India replaced China as the top source country for overseas students in Australia, with the number of student visa holders from India increasing by 44.6 per cent between June 2008 and June 2009. There was also a significant increase in the English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) and Postgraduate Research sectors. However, 28,000 student visas were refused—an increase of 68 per cent on the number of refusals in 2007–08.[63]
  • In August 2009 the Government responded to the rising numbers of student visa applications being made, and the number being denied by DIAC, by strengthening integrity measures in certain parts of the student program caseload to counter fraud and ensure that students had sufficient funds to live and study in Australia. These measures were supplemented by an increase in the financial requirement attaching to student visas to ensure that students were not heavily reliant on income from part-time work to meet their expenses in Australia. The Government reported that there was an increase in the number of student visa applications being withdrawn, immediately following the introduction of enhanced integrity measures in August 2009.[64] 
  • The Government introduced measures to assist around 4,000 international students who were affected by the closure of 12 private education providers in late 2009.[65]
  • Major reforms were announced for the skilled migration program in February 2010, including the introduction of a new, more targeted, Skilled Occupations List (SOL), a review of the points test used to assess applicants, and the potential to cap visa grants to people in particular occupations. Through these changes the Government aimed to delink student visas from permanent migration status.[66]
  • Bruce Baird’s report on the review of the Education Services for Overseas Students Act (2000), released in March 2010, found that migration outcomes had a significant impact on international student education in Australia. He welcomed the Government’s reforms to the GSM program, announced in February 2010, as going some way to addressing the deleterious impact of the relationship between the skilled migration and international student education.[67]
  • The Migration Program planning figures for 2010–11 increased the skilled stream by 5,750 program places. There was an increase of 9,150 places for employer-sponsored skilled migrants and a decrease of 3,600 places for the GSM program. These planning figures modified the composition of the Migration Program in favour of employer-sponsored migration, consistent with the Government’s focus on ‘demand driven’ migration. The change in the Migration Program planning figures reduced the number of places available to independent skilled migrants under the GSM program.[68]
  • The new SOL, released on 17 May 2010, contained 181 managerial, professional and trade occupations, but crucially removed occupations, such as hairdressing and cooking, which drove much of the growth in the VET sector in the previous five years. All applicants for independent skilled migration visas under the GSM must now have qualifications relevant to an occupation on the SOL. The new list was aimed at delivering a more targeted GSM program that was aligned with Australia’s overall workforce development strategy and driven by labour market demand.[69]
  • In releasing the new SOL, the Government again sought to explicitly disassociate student visas from permanent residency through the Migration Program. International students were cautioned against undertaking courses of study in the hope of achieving particular migration outcomes, as the SOL is reviewed annually and is subject to change in response to changing economic and labour market conditions.[70]
  • A new points test for independent skilled migrants, emphasising English, work experience and high level qualifications, was announced in November 2010, as part of the Government’s ongoing reforms to skilled migration. The Minister stated that the existing points test ‘... puts an overseas student with a short term vocational qualification and one year’s work experience in Australia ahead of a Harvard educated environmental engineer with three years’ relevant work experience.’ The test will apply only to independent skilled migrants, not employer-sponsored migrants. It will apply to applications lodged from 1 July 2011.[71]
  • In December 2010 the Government announced that there would be a review of the student visa program, with the aim of ‘enhancing the continued competitiveness of the international education sector, as well as strengthening the integrity of the Student visa program’.[72]
  • Also in December 2010, a package of measures aimed at streamlining the student visa application process for low risk groups was announced. These measures included: reducing the Student Visa Assessment levels (as of April 2011); enabling pre-paid boarding fees to be counted toward a student’s cost of living requirements in their visa application; improved information exchange between the Government and the international education sector, including provision of a quarterly statistical publication on the Student visa program; and enabling assessment Level 4 vocational education and training (VET) students to undertake a package of certificate level courses to meet visa requirements.[73]
  • In order to help create competition in the English language testing market, and provide more test places for student visa applicants, the Government announced in May 2011 that the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the Pearson Test of English Academic (Pearson) and the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) from Cambridge ESOL (Cambridge) would be acceptable tests for Student visa application purposes, in addition to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).[74]
  • In August 2011 the Government announced the introduction of the SkillSelect Register, to be introduced from 1 July 2012. Under this new two-stage process, potential skilled migrants are required to lodge an expression of interest on the SkillSelect register, and may then be invited to lodge an application for a skilled visa.[75] SkillSelect was designed to help the Government manage applications for skilled migration more effectively. By inviting applications from people who have expressed interest on the register, the Government is able to target applicants who meet specific needs, such as possessing a certain skill, or being willing to work in a particular regional area. The two stage process also reduces the amount of time spent processing applications from people who do not meet these needs.[76]
  • The report of the Knight Review, and the Government’s response to it, were released in September 2011. The report made 41 recommendations including recommending significant changes to visa processing and post-study work rights for students in the university sector, and minor changes to the student visa program across other education sectors, as well as reforms to the integrity measures applied by the department in monitoring and enforcing student visa compliance.[77] The Government gave in-principle support for all 41 recommendations, and indicated that it would implement them all, with some modifications. The package of reforms announced in response to the Knight Review included: streamlined processing for students enrolling in Bachelor or higher degree courses, to commence in the first half of 2012; a new post study work visa, valid for up to four years, for Bachelor, Masters and PhD graduates; a reduction in the financial requirements for some student applicants; the introduction of a new ‘genuine temporary entry’ criterion for all student visa applications; and a comprehensive review of the student visa risk management framework.[78]
  • The first stage of Knight Review reforms were rolled out in November 2011. These included: the introduction of an upfront ‘genuine temporary entrant’ requirement for assessing student visa applications; removal of the English language test requirement for Independent ELICOS (subclass 570) visa applications subject to Assessment Level 4 or above; visa extension for up to six months after thesis submission for Higher Degree by Research students; inclusion of pre-paid home stay fees in financial assessments on the same basis as pre-paid boarding fees; and the cessation of Pre-Visa Assessment arrangements.[79]
  • In November 2011 the Government announced that post-study work rights, which were introduced for university graduates following the Knight Review, would be extended to Bachelor or higher degree graduates (who completed their degrees after at least two academic years’ study in Australia) from other education providers accredited to offer degree level programs as of 2013. The new arrangements extended the stay for Bachelor students from 18 months to two years, and allowed for Masters by research and PhD students to stay for three and four years respectively following completion of their studies.[80]
  • Following a Departmental review of the student visa assessment levels in 2011, the Government announced in February 2012 that the visa assessment levels across a range of student visa subclasses would be reduced making the student visa application process simpler for prospective students from 29 countries.[81]
  • The second stage of implementation of the Knight Review reform package was announced in March 2012. This included: streamlined visa processing arrangements for prospective students enrolled in Bachelor, Masters or Doctoral degrees at participating universities (effective 24 March); more flexible work conditions for overseas students came into effect on 26 March; improved access to English language study for schools sector visa applicants and for student guardian visa holders (effective 24 March); and removal of the requirement for higher risk schools sector visa applicants to provide evidence of an English language proficiency test (effective 24 March).[82]
  • Also in March 2012, legislation was introduced providing for the abolition of automatic visa cancellation for overseas students who breach their visa conditions. This was also a recommendation of the Knight Review. The intention was to provide fairer outcomes for students by allowing the Department to take into account the individual circumstances of a student when considering a breach of visa conditions. The legislation was passed, and received Royal Assent on 12 December 2012.[83]
  • In July 2012 the Government announced the establishment of new advisory council on skilled migration, composed of 18 members drawn from business, industry, unions and academia. The Council was created to advise the Government on the role of skilled migration in the Australian economy, and to assist with the development of migration policies and programs.[84]
  • In February 2013 the International Education Advisory Council (IEAC) released its report Australia – Educating Globally (the Chaney Report). The IEAC had been established by the Government in 2011 to advise on the development of a long-term strategy for the international education sector.[85] The Chaney Report made several recommendations relating to the regulatory framework regarding education providers, and services and support required by overseas students in Australia, along with some recommendations concerning Australia’s student visa framework. It suggested that the Government should expedite visa processing for students wishing to study at ‘low immigration risk providers’, and increase the points bonus in the skilled migration points test for having an Australian education qualification from five to ten.[86]

Abbott Coalition Government

2013–2015

  • Upon forming Government in 2013, the Coalition stated that it intended to restore the education sector to its peak of almost $19 billion in export income.[87] The Government announced that it would extend the streamlining arrangements introduced for the university sector to selected non-university providers, and also streamline the visa assessment levels framework to simplify eligibility requirements for prospective students particularly in the vocational sector.[88]
  • In line with the October 2013 announcement concerning student visa assessment levels, the simplified assessment levels came into effect on 22 March 2014. Under the new framework, the number of assessment levels was reduced from five to three, and the evidence of finances requirement (that is, the period of time for which a prospective students must prove they can support themselves financially) for students assessed at Level 3 was reduced from 18 months to 12.[89] This overhaul of assessment levels was an outcome of a Review of the Student Visa Assessment Level, which had been recommended by the Knight Review in 2011. The Report of the Review was released by the Government in October 2013.[90]
  • In May 2014 the Government announced that, subject to the passage of legislation in 2015, streamlined visa processing would be extended to students enrolled in advanced diploma level courses at ‘low immigration risk providers’, with eligible education providers being invited to participate in this arrangement.[91] The Government stated that the purpose of this measure is to help the VET sector in attracting greater numbers of overseas students, in line with the Coalition’s objective of building the overseas student sector back up to the levels experienced under the Howard Government.[92] This measure had been recommended by the Chaney Report provided to Government in February 2013.[93]
  • The Government announced in November 2014 that test scores from the Test of English Language as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) and the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) would be accepted by applicants for skilled, temporary graduate, work and holiday, and former resident visas, as evidence of their English language ability. These tests began to be accepted for student visa applicants in 2011.[94]
  • A major overhaul of the student visa framework was announced in June 2015. The aim of the new framework is to support and encourage growth in international education, in line with the Coalition’s previously stated commitment to growing the sector.[95] Under these reforms, the number of available student visa subclasses will be reduced from eight to two, and existing streamlined visa processing and student visa assessment levels will be replaced with a new single immigration risk framework for overseas students. Under this new framework, the evidence required to demonstrate sufficient finances and English language ability will be based on the immigration profile of the country of origin, and the education provider. The new framework is due to be implemented when the existing streamlined visa processing arrangements expire in June 2016.

Concluding comments

The trends in overseas student numbers over the last 20 years have shown that students are attracted to Australia by both the quality of education available and the possibility of permanent residency. Whilst opportunities for permanent migration can act as a drawcard in keeping the best and brightest international students in Australia and reducing critical skill needs, it can also result in unintended consequences. The large number of additional courses offered to international students in hairdressing, cooking and accounting, often marketed to students as a quick and inexpensive path to permanent residency, resulted in a significant cohort of fee-paying student enrolments, but did little to address labour shortages in these sectors.[96]

However, policy measures designed to remove the exploitation of the overseas students program as a pathway to permanent residency can also have unintended consequences. While largely supportive of attempts to address some of the distortions created in the migration program as a result of its interaction with the overseas students program, migration policy researchers Bob Birrell and Ernest Healy caution that the emphasis on employer-nominated places may render former overseas students who do not have qualifications relevant to occupations on the SOL vulnerable to exploitation by employers on whom they rely for sponsorship in their permanent residency applications.[97] Additionally, the experiences of the Rudd-Gillard Labor Governments and its measures to reform the overseas students program have shown that, while they may be considered successful when measured against the desire to restore integrity to the provision of international education services, declining numbers of overseas students cause considerable concern amongst education providers, and harm to Australia’s education export industry.

The Coalition has made it clear that it considers significant damage has been done to Australia’s international education sector by Labor’s reforms, and has made moves to shift the balance back towards ensuring growth in the overseas students program. Whether this results in a return to the integrity concerns of the Howard era remains to be seen, but it is clear that finding a balance between maintaining integrity in education services and the permanent Migration Program on the one hand, and maximising the economic benefits offered by international students on the other, remains a significant policy challenge.


[1].     While people who enter Australia as temporary migrants under the overseas student program are often referred to as ‘international students’ in common parlance, this paper largely adopts government terminology used within the Immigration Portfolio to refer to such entrants as ‘overseas students’.

[2].     A Markus, J Jupp and P McDonald, Australia’s immigration revolution, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW, 2009, p. 10; P Mares, ‘The permanent shift to temporary migration’, Inside Story, 17 June 2009. 

[3].     For statistical information on overseas student enrolments and related data dating back to 2000 see the following website: Australian Government, ‘International student data’, Department of Education and Training website.

[4].     Markus et al, Australia’s immigration revolution, op. cit., p. 11.

[5].     Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), ‘Fact sheet- students’, DIBP, Canberra.

[6].     ‘Immigration risk’ is a measure of the perceived likelihood that a person will comply with his or her visa conditions, and return home upon expiration of the visa. Levels of immigration risk for particular groups are determined by the Department based on levels of visa compliance amongst that group in the previous year. 

[7].     DIBP, ‘Student Visa Assessment Levels’, DIBP website.

[8].     Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), Annual report 2008–2009, DIAC, 2009, p. 63.

[9].     Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), Annul report 2013–2014, DIBP, 2014, p. 64.

[10].    K Koser, The global financial crisis and international migration: policy implications for Australia, Lowy Institute for International Policy, Sydney, July 2009, p. 3.

[11].    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), International trade in goods and services, Australia, cat no. 5368.0: Table 11a, credits (exports), ABS , Canberra. There is a great deal of debate surrounding this issue and estimates vary as to the value of the international education industry to the Australian economy. Estimates produced by the ABS have been queried by B Birrell in ‘Export figures exaggerated’, The Australian, 5 August 2009, p. 34 and defended by G Withers, in ‘Sector’s $15bn-plus export figures really stack up’, The Australian, 12 August 2009, p. 34. Further discussion of these and international estimates is provided by G Maslen, in ‘Don’t count on earnings’, The Australian, 12 August 2009, p. 30. See also, B Birrell and T F Smith, ‘Export earnings from the overseas student industry: how much?’, Australian Universities’ Review, 52(1), 2010, pp. 4–12 and Access Economics’ two reports for the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET), The Australian education sector and the economic contribution of international students, (report by Access Economics for the Australian Council for Private Education and Training), Canberra, 2009 and The economic contribution of international students, (report by Deloitte Access Economics for the Australian Council for Private Education and Training), Canberra, 2013. Estimates are highly dependent on the type of methodology used in calculations.

[12].    L Hawthorne, ‘How valuable is “two-step migration”? Labour market outcomes for international student migrants to Australia’, Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 19(1), 2010, pp. 5–36.

[13].    C Evans (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Migration program gives priority to those with skills most needed, media release, Canberra, 17 December 2008, accessed 26 March 2015; Markus, et al, Australia’s immigration revolution, op. cit., p. 64.

[14].    DIBP, Australia’s migration trends 2012–13, Canberra, 2014, p. 21.

[15].           Markus et al, Australia’s immigration revolution, op. cit., p. 11.

[16].    P Mares, ‘From queue to pool: skilled migration gets a makeover’, Inside Story, 10 February 2010, accessed 13 August 2015. See also B Birrell and E Healy, ‘The February 2010 reforms and the international student industry’, People and Place, 18(1), 2010, pp. 67–68; B Birrell and B Perry, ‘Immigration policy change and the international student industry’, People and Place, 17(2), 2009, pp. 65–68; K Thomson, ‘Second reading speech: Education Services for Overseas Students Amendment (Re-registration of Providers and Other Measures) Bill 2009’, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 October 2009, pp. 10121–10126 cited in P Mares, ‘A blockage in the skilled migration pipeline’, Inside Story, 3 November 2009; B Baird, Stronger, simpler, smarter ESOS: supporting international students: review of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000: final report, Australian Education International, Canberra, February 2010, p. vi; Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee, Welfare of international students, The Senate, Canberra, November 2009, pp. 18–19, 22.

[17].           Birrell and Healy, ‘The February 2010 reforms and the international student industry’, op. cit., p. 68.

[18].           DIAC, Annual report 2008–2009, op. cit., p. 63.

[19].           C Evans, Migration program gives priority to those with skills most needed, op. cit.

[20].    Ibid.

[21].    Ibid.

[22].    C Evans (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Skilled migration changes deliver more workers Australia needs, media release, 17 February 2010.

[23].    Birrell and Perry, ‘Immigration policy change and the international student industry’, op. cit., pp. 65–68; Baird, Stronger, simpler, smarter ESOS: supporting international students: review of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000: final report, op. cit., pp. 6–8.

[24].    M Cully, ‘Skilled migration selection policies: recent Australian reforms’, Migration Policy Practice, 1(1), October-November 2011, pp. 4–7. The Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL), introduced in 1999, was a list of occupations considered to be in national shortage. Having an occupation on the MODL increased an applicant’s chances of being granted a skilled migration visa. In 2010 the MODL was replaced with the Skilled Occupation List.  

[25].    Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee, Welfare of international students, op. cit., p. 17.

[26].    J Blackmore, C Gribble, L Farrell, M Rahimi, R Arber and M Devlin, Australian international graduates and the transition to employment, Deakin University, Melbourne, 2014. 

[27].    Mares, ‘A blockage in the skilled migration pipeline’, op. cit.; B Birrell and E Healy, ‘Migrant accountants—high numbers, poor outcomes,’ People and Place, 16(4), 2008, pp. 9–22; B Birrell and E Healy, ‘How are skilled migrants doing?’, People and Place, 16(1), 2008, p. 165; B Birrell, S Richardson and L Hawthorne, Evaluation of the General Skilled Migration Categories (report prepared for DIAC), Canberra, 2006, pp. 76–97; P Rodan, ‘Remembrance of policies past’, Campus Review, 20(5), 16 March 2010, p. 12; Birrell and Perry, ‘Immigration policy change and the international student industry’, op. cit., p. 78.

[28].    Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee, Welfare of international students, op. cit., p. 19.

[29].    Council of Australian Governments (COAG), International Students Strategy for Australia 2010–2014, COAG, 29 October 2010, p. 7.

[30].    B D’Costa, ‘Curry bashing? A racist Australian underbelly and the education industry’, South Asia Masala, Australian National University College of Asia and the Pacific, 6 February 2010; S Marginson, International student security: globalisation, state, university, (speech to the World Universities Forum), Davos, 9–11 January 2010, p. 4; Birrell and Perry, ‘Immigration policy change and the international student industry’, op. cit., pp. 71–72.

[31].    Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee, Welfare of international students, op. cit., p. 18.

[32].    Ibid., p. 18.

[33].    J Joudo Larsen, J Payne and A Tomison, Crimes against international students in Australia: 2005-09, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, August 2011.

[34].    Namely: the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee, Welfare of international students; and the review of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act, undertaken by Bruce Baird.

[35].    C Evans (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Migration reforms to deliver Australia’s skills needs, media release, 8 February 2010.

[36].    C Evans (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Options remain for overseas students, media release, 9 February 2010; Baird, Stronger, simpler, smarter ESOS: supporting international students: review of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000: final report, op. cit., p. 7.

[37].    Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), Population flows: immigration aspects 2009–2010, Canberra, 2011, p. 45.

[38].    C Evans (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations) and C Bowen (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Review of Student visa program, media release, 16 December 2010.

[39].    Australian Government, Strategic review of the Student Visa Program 2011, (Knight Review), Commonwealth of Australia, 2011.

[40].    P Mares, ‘International students and the law of unintended consequences’, Inside Story, 28 September 2011.

[41].    Department of Education and Training (DET), Export income to Australia from international education activity in 2013–14, Research snapshot, DET, Canberra, November 2014.

[42].    S Morrison (Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) and C Pyne (Minister for Education), New streamlined student visas to grow Australian education, media release, Canberra, 29 October 2013.

[43].    D Kemp (Minister for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs), $1.2 billion growth in education export industry, media release, Canberra, 11 May 1998.

[44].    P Ruddock (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs), Australian immigration: grasping the new reality, media release, 23 November 2000.

[45].    P Ruddock (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs), Skilled migration changes to boost economy, media release, 27 August 1998. For general information on the points test see DIBP, What is the points test?, DIBP website.

[46].           Birrell and Healy, ‘The February 2010 reforms and the international student industry’, op. cit., p. 66.

[47].           Ruddock, Australian immigration: grasping the new reality, op. cit.

[48].    P Ruddock (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs), The Economic Impact of Immigration Seminar, media release, 1 March 2001. See also Birrell and Healy, ‘The February 2010 reforms and the international student industry’, op. cit., p. 66.

[49].    P Ruddock (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs), Student visa numbers increase to record high, media release, 19 September 2003. See also P Ruddock (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs), Migration: benefiting Australia conference, opening speech, media release, 7 May 2002; P Ruddock (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs), Record temporary entrants contribute to economy, media release, 7 January 2002; P Ruddock (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Minister announces 2002–03 migration (non-humanitarian) program, media release, 7 May 2002. 

[50].    P Ruddock (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs), 2003–04 migration program will increase benefits to Australia, media release, Canberra, 31 March 2003.

[51].    A Vanstone (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs), Student visa numbers continue to grow, media release, 29 November 2003. For general information on student visa assessment levels see, DIBP, Student visa assessment levels, DIBP website. For general information on English language assessment for student visas see DIBP, Student visa English language requirements, DIBP website.

[52].    A Vanstone (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs), Thousands of temporary entrants chose to call Australia home, media release, 20 January 2005. 

[53].    A Vanstone (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs), Student visa reform success, media release, 12 January 2005. 

[54].    Birrell and Healy, ‘The February 2010 reforms and the international student industry’, op. cit., p. 66;  A Vanstone, (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs), Australia’s skills and migrants to increase, media release, 1 April 2004; J Ross, ‘High–end ELICOS winner in migration shake–up’, Campus Review, 20(3), 16 February 2010. 

[55].    A Vanstone (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs), 2005–06 Migration (non-humanitarian) program, media release, 14 April 2005; Birrell and Healy, ‘The February 2010 reforms and the international student industry’, op. cit., p. 68.

[56].    A Vanstone (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs), New migrants are entering the workforce faster, media release, 5 November 2005; DIAC, New migrant outcomes: results from the third longitudinal survey of immigrants to Australia, August 2007, accessed 4 September 2015.   

[57].    A Vanstone (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs), Evaluation of general skilled migration categories, media release, 8 May 2006; B Birrell, L Hawthorne, S Richardson, Evaluation of the General Skilled Migration categories, DIAC, May 2006, accessed 10 April 2015.  

[58].    C Evans (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Budget 2008–09—record skilled migration program to boost economy, media release, 13 May 2008.  

[59].    C Evans (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Foreign students gain automatic work rights in Australia, media release, 25 April 2008.  

[60].           Evans, Migration program gives priority to those with skills most needed, op. cit.   

[61].    C Evans (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Budget 2009–10—Migration program: the size of the skilled and family programs, media release, 12 May 2009.

[62].    C Evans (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Minister meets Indian community in Melbourne, media release, 19 June 2009.   

[63].    C Evans (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Student visa checks strengthened, media release, 20 August 2009. See also, DIAC, Annual report 2008–09, Canberra, October 2009, accessed 13 August 2015.

[64].    Evans, Student visa checks strengthened, op. cit.; C Evans (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), New visa measures to assist international students, media release, 9 November 2009.

[65].           Evans, New visa measures to assist international students, op. cit.

[66].           Evans, Migration reforms to deliver Australia’s skills needs, op. cit.

[67].    Bruce Baird was the former Federal Member for Cook in the House of Representatives from October 1998 to November 2007 and had previously held several ministerial positions in the NSW Legislative Assembly. He was appointed to head a review into international student education in Australia on 8 August 2009. See J Gillard (Minister for Education), Bruce Baird to head up international students review, media release, 8 August 2009; J Gillard (Minister for Education), Baird review into international students final report, media release, 9 March 2010; Baird, Stronger, simpler, smarter ESOS: supporting international students, op. cit.; C Evans (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Minister welcomes Baird review, media release, 9 March 2010, accessed 10 April 2015.  

[68].    C Evans (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Budget: government sharpens focus of skilled migration program, media release, 11 May 2010.

[69].  C Evans (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), New Skilled Occupation List to meet Australia’s economic needs, media release, 17 May 2010 10 April 2015; DIAC, The new Skilled Occupation List (SOL), Fact sheet, 2010; DIAC, Frequently asked questions, Fact sheet, 2010.  

[70].           Ibid.

[71].    C Bowen (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), New migration points test to better address Australia’s skills needs, media release, 11 November 2010.

[72].    C Evans (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations) and C Bowen (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Review of student visa program, media release, 16 December 2010.

[73].    Ibid.

[74].    C Bowen (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), New English language test providers for student visas, media release, 20 May 2011.

[75].    C Bowen (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Skilled migration reform supporting Australia’s growing economy, media release, 10 August 2011.

[76].    For more information on the SkillSelect register see DIBP, SkillSelect, DIBP website.

[77].    Australian Government, Strategic review of the Student Visa Program 2011, (Knight Review), op. cit.

[78].    C Evans (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace relations) and C Bowen (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Boost to international education sector in response to Knight review, media release, 22 September 2011.

[79].    C Bowen (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Students to benefit as Knight review changes rolled out, media release, 8 November 2011.

[80].    C Evans (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations) and C Bowen (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Government extends support for international education, media release, 30 November 2011.

[81].    C Bowen (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Simplifying student visas, media release, 15 February 2012.

[82].    C Bowen (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Changes to boost international education, media release, 22 March 2012.

[83].    Bowen, Changes to boost international education, op. cit.; Parliament of Australia, ‘Migration Legislation Amendment (Student Visas) Bill 2012 homepage’, Australian Parliament website; H Spinks, Migration Legislation Amendment (Student Visas) Bill 2012, Bills digest, 132, 2011–12, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 10 May 2012.

[84].    C Bowen (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), New advisory council on skilled migration, media release, 2 July 2012.

[85].    C Evans (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations), New Council to advise on future of international education, media release, 14 October 2011.

[86].    M Chaney, Australia – educating globally: advice from the International Education Advisory Council, International Education Advisory Council (IEAC), Canberra, February 2013.

[87].    S Morrison (Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) and C Pyne (Minister for Education), New streamlined student visas to grow Australian education, media release, 29 October 2013.

[88].    Ibid.

[89].    DIBP, ‘Simplification of the Student Visa Assessment Level’, DIBP website.

[90].    DIBP, Review of the Student Visa Assessment Level Framework 2013, DIBP, Canberra.

[91].    C Pyne (Minister for Education) and S Morrison (Minister for Immigration and Border Protection), More streamlined visas a boost for Australian education sector, media release, 26 May 2014.

[92].    Ibid.

[93].    Chaney, Australia – educating globally: advice from the International Education Advisory Council, op. cit.

[94].  M Cash (Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection), More English test options for visa applicants, media release, 24 November 2014.

[95].    C Pyne (Minister for Education and Training) and M Cash (Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection), Simplified student visa process to boost Australia’s international education sector, media release, 16 June 2015.

[96].    B Birrell, E Healy and B Kinnaird, ‘Cooks galore and hairdressers aplenty’, People and Place, 15(1), 2007, pp. 30–44; Birrell and Healy, ‘The February 2010 reforms and the international student industry’, op. cit.; Birrell and Perry, ‘Immigration policy change and the international student industry’, op. cit., p. 69.

[97].    Birrell and Healy, ‘The February 2010 reforms and the international student industry’, op. cit., p. 79; J Masanauskas, ‘Student wage squeeze: closed visa loophole gives bosses chance to exploit young’, Herald Sun, 21 April 2010, p. 22.

 

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