Sep 25, 2015 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Australia’s push to streamline its visa processing framework has had an unanticipated -- and for some, unsettling -- side effect. According to a recent report from The Australian, the government canceled just under 11,000 student visas in the year-long span between June of 2014 and June of 2015. Let’s take a closer look at this issue, along with what it means for prospective study abroad students in Australia.


A Surge in “Non-Genuine Students”

While this news may seem alarming, this defensive maneuver on the part of Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection was precipitated by an excess of “non-genuine” international students -- primarily from China, South Korea, India, Vietnam, and Thailand -- who had gained access to Australian universities through illegal means.

According to Phil Honeywood, Australia’s Chief Executive of the International Education Association of Australia, “A key reason for ditching the current streamlined visa procedures is that too many low-quality education providers have been gaming the system, and this has meant students have been attracted to enrolling in such providers as an easy visa pathway to Australia.”

In short, inadequate higher education institutions have been exploiting the system through everything from counterfeit test results to fraudulent enrollments, leading the Immigration Department to take corrective action. The ultimate goal? To maintain the country’s premier reputation and quality higher educational offerings. 


A Pivotal Moment

According to Australian Education Minister Christopher Pine,  “The quality of the educational services that Australia offers to the rest of the world is an asset that we should protect and enhance.” In other words, with Australia’s streamlined visa-processing framework set to take effect in June of 2016, the visa cancellations -- up a whopping 30 percent from previous years -- are not an act of ill will toward international students, but instead serve as a demonstration of the country’s commitment to closing the door on poor quality providers...along with the students they profess to serve.

So what can we expect from Australia moving forward? According to the Future Directions for Streamlined Visa Processing report, the new student visa framework will be not only be less taxed by non-genuine students, but will also be “simpler to navigate for genuine students, deliver a more targeted approach to immigration integrity, and create a level playing field for all education providers.”

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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