Legal procedures protect the rights of foreign students in Australia


Binod Ghimire

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Apart from its ever-growing job market, whopping investments in education, relatively easy procedures for acquiring permanent residency, and worldwide recognition, the legal safety of students is a major pull factor for international students who want to study in Australia .

ESOS Act: Australia is one of the few countries that guarantee the quality of education as well as the safety of student investments. In 2000, Australiaintroduced the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act. ESOS ensures that in order to enroll international students, institutions must first meet certain registration requirements. All institutions that meet registration requirements are listed on the publicly available Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). Institutions must ensure that the marketing material they provide to students is accurate and not misleading. Likewise, institutions must help international students adjust to their learning goals and ensure satisfying learning outcomes from their course. The Act also mandates tuition protection services through which students’ fees are protected. If, for some reason, the university discontinues any course a student is enrolled in, the fee is reimbursed or another university will allow the student to complete an equivalent degree. This has strengthened the financial security of students.

GTE: On November 5, 2011, a new system called the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) was introduced to make sure that only genuine students get permission to pursue higher education in Australia . The GTE investigates the authenticity of a student along with their social ties to gauge whether they will return to Nepal after the completion of their course. In this way, the GTE has proven to be a major way to avoid glitches in the admission of appropriate students. Michael Knight reviewed policies concerned with immigration in Australia that are now being implemented by the government.

The Knight review, as it is referred to, highlights the authenticity of international students and determines the nature of their stay in Australia . This has reduced

the burden on the Australia n High Commission in New Delhi where Nepalis have to apply for Australia n visas. Earlier, the High Commission used to follow up on the entire process, but now, individual universities are responsible for checking the status of applicants.

“The universities check students’ financial capabilities and the authenticity. The files will eventually go to the High Commission, but the universities will pre-assess everything,” said Narayan Bajaj, managing director of Global Reach Consultancy. According to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, a ‘genuine student’ is a one who intends to obtain a successful educational outcome and has the linguistic, educational and financial background to have a reasonable chance of achieving it.

Streamlined visa processing: In order to systematise the visa granting process, the Australia n government introduced the streamlined visa processing system on March 24, 2012. Students with a ‘conformation of education’ for an eligible course at a participating university generally have reduced evidentiary requirements when applying for a student visa, regardless of their country of origin, as they would be assessed as having a lower migration risk. Nepal, however, comes under a high risk country. Students have to meet minimum requirements with respect to English proficiency and financial abilities in order to satisfy the GTE.

But there is very little burden as far as documentation is concerned compared to the cumbersome producers that existed earlier. The new system treats students from developed and developing nations alike during the selection process. “Earlier, the Australia n High Commission used to solely decide the students’ fate, but now universities are equally responsible,” said Bajaj.

Source: Kathmandu post, 3rd April