December 8, 2023

Agents Association AAERI president Ravi Lochan Singh said the practice of switching was facilitated by coastal migration agents in Australia and led to retention concerns among universities.

“This has also affected foreign education agents as they have been denied commissions,” he added.

Australian Universities Deputy CEO Peter Chesworth said PIE news that there are many reasons why students choose to change course of study, including to fulfill their career interests at any given time or due to personal circumstances.

PIE understands that there is currently no data to illustrate the extent to which university students are transitioning into professional careers.

Australia scrapped a 40-hour fortnight work limit for international students in January last year, in the face of a growing skills shortage. Some in the sector criticized the move, saying it “could damage” the country’s reputation.

“Unrestricted work rights were a distraction for students”

There have since been concerns that the policy has led to an increase in fraudulent student visa applications, with organizations such as Navitas warning that “unscrupulous providers and agents” are abusing the policy.

The reports also highlighted the role some private for-profit institutions allegedly played in facilitating the exploitation of students, with some charging low tuition fees and turning a blind eye to student absenteeism.

The Australian government announced last year that it would bring back the cap on the number of hours international students can work, and from 1 July 2023 work restrictions for student visa holders will be reintroduced and reduced to an increased rate of 48 hours. in a fortnight.

We hope this will ensure that student visa holders can focus on obtaining a quality Australian education and qualification, while remaining able to support themselves financially, gain valuable work experience and contribute to the needs of the Australian workforce.

“Universities support working hours restrictions to ensure students get all the benefits of the world-class education they seek in Australia. This prepares them for a fulfilling and rewarding career, whether here or at home,” University Australia’s Chesworth said.

However, stakeholders have warned against abuse of the system ahead of the July 1 cap reintroduction date.

“It’s true that the unlimited work rights currently allowed in Australia have distracted students,” Lochan Singh said.

“AAERI recommends that the number of part-time jobs during the study semester should be limited,” he said.

“However, I can confirm that the strict code of conduct and advertising standards for our members have meant that we have had no instance of any of our members promoting the current student visa arrangement as a de facto work visa,” added Lochan Singh.

Phil Honeywood, chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia, noted that the country’s Department of Home Affairs recently chaired the first meeting of its long-standing Education Visa Advisory Committee of the year.

“Given the breach of current unlimited employment rights, representatives of the top authorities strongly supported the government’s reintroduction of the cap from July 1,” he said.

Honeywood noted that other recent stakeholder forums with the federal government have also gathered momentum to regulate education agencies.

“Such regulations would likely include penalty provisions for false advertising and abuse of Australia’s student visa system,” Honeywood added.

In response to the Department for Education Skills and Employment’s ‘ESOS Review 2022’ discussion paper, Universities Australia set out a number of recommendations regarding course transfers.

The response states that National Code Standard 7, which governs overseas student transfers between providers, does not fully restrict students from transferring within six months of starting their major course.

However, it prevents them automatically. Instead, they must apply to their current provider and provide a valid reason why the provider should release them.

Australian Universities’ recommendations include maintaining the six-month cap period for major courses and coordinating with the Department of Home Affairs to review the simplified framework for student visas to ensure that the new provider assumes the full risk of SSVF for the transferred student.

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