Since 1 July, increasing numbers of international students have struggled to have their study visas approved. Over the past 10 years, 500,000 international students have chosen to come to Australia and have made valuable contributions to Australian society and research. Yet in 2016, it has come to the attention of the University of Melbourne that some prospective international engineering and Science PhD students have been refused visas to study in Australia.
As well as this, the new Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF) has caused delays for students currently undertaking foundation and pathway courses.
Carefully selected research topics chosen by prospective international students seeking to study at post graduate levels in Australia have recently been rejected. The belief is that some research topics, primarily from the engineering and science faculties, are too closely related to weapons of mass destruction. Having made the Indian press as well as Australian media, the prospective supervisors have appealed on behalf of their students. These cases are currently being brought to the attention of the Federal Government by the Go8 (Group of Eight), the representative body of the top eight universities in Australia.
For other students currently applying for student visas, there are expected to be greater delays due to the new Simplified Student Visa Process. This follows the Federal Government’s replacement of the complex assessment level student visa framework. The primary change introduced by SSVF is reducing the visa sub-classes from eight to two and introducing a simplified single immigration risk framework for all international students.
According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website, the changes have been implemented in order to make the framework easier to navigate and “deliver a more targeted approach to immigration integrity”. For current students, these improvements are untimely. Students undertaking or completing foundation programs are experiencing uncertainty as they wait for the backlog of applications to be addressed. Pathway programs such as Trinity and English language commencement dates may be pushed back.
Over recent weeks, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has processed a significant number of visas and it is hoped that this will continue.
Deputy Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor International, Susan Elliot has said, “We are working very actively with the peak bodies as we believe this route is the one most likely to be effective in the shortest period of time. Government representatives have been responsive and we have good reason to believe that these issues are being addressed”.