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Review of the student visa programme

Future directions for streamlined visa processing

On 16 June 2015 the Australian Government released the Future directions for streamlined visa processing (2MB PDF)​ report and announced the introduction of a simplified international student visa framework (SSVF) to support Australia’s education services sector.

The release of the report follows a period of extensive stakeholder consultation which included the release of a discussion paper to members of the Education Visa Consultative Committee and other key international education stakeholders. Thirty-two formal submissions were received in response to the discussion paper. 

Key changes under the SSVF are:

  • a reduction in the number of student visa sub-classes from eight to two; and
  • the introduction of a simplified single immigration risk framework for all international students.

A working group comprising peak bodies and relevant commonwealth and state government agencies has been established to support implementation of the eight recommendations from the report.

These changes will simplify the student visa framework, significantly reduce red tape, create a level playing field for all education providers and deliver a more targeted approach to immigration integrity.

Subject to the legislative change process t​he Department intends to implement the review recommendations by mid-2016. 

More information

More information regarding future directions for streamlined student visa processing is available:

Review of the stu​dent visa Assessment Level Framework

​The Hon Michael Knight AO conducted the first strategic review of the student visa programme to help enhance the quality, integrity and competitiveness of the student programme.

Mr Knight released his report, Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program 2011 (1.7MB PDF)  to government on 30 June 2011 with 41 recommendations.

On 29 October 2013, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection publically released the final report of the Review of the Student Visa Assessment Level Framework.

The review considered how the student visa risk management framework could be reformed to achieve enhanced integrity in the student visa programme while at the same time facilitating the competitiveness of Australia's international sector. Consideration of how the student visa risk management framework could be informed by a provider-based risk approach was a key issue for the review.

The review also examined whether the student visa risk framework was appropriately responsive to differences within countries and between education providers, what eligibility thresholds should apply, and how the framework will be reviewed to ensure future immigration risks are identified and managed.

The Review of the Student Visa Assessment Level Framework (623KB PDF)​ identified eight recommendations which the Department proposes will be implemented during 2014.

Review of ​​the implementation of alternative English Language proficiency tests in the student visa programme

On 5 November 2011 three English language proficiency tests were implemented as alternatives to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test and Occupational English Test for student visa purposes: the Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test, Cambridge English: Advanced, and Pearson Test of English Academic.

The announcement of the introduction of alternative English language tests for the student visa programme foreshadowed that the implementation of the new tests would be closely monitored and reviewed to inform consideration of whether the alternative tests should be expanded to other visa programmes.

The Review of the implementation of alternative English language proficiency tests in the student visa programme (639KB PDF) was conducted by the Department and focussed on whether the alternative English language test providers met their service delivery obligations including the integrity and security of test delivery, test content, appropriateness of administration in conducting tests and results validity and information during the period of December 2011 - November 2012.