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February 12, 2009

Despite recent student visa rule changes, Australia [Images] continues to attract a larger chunk of foreign students, particularly from India, because of that country's quality education and easy availability of jobs on completion of studies. Small wonder, most of the foreign students love to make the kangaroo-land their permanent home.

In an interview with BetterThink, the English language and Student visa division of Top Careers & You, Ms Kelly Raj, Counselor-Education, Australian High Commission, New Delhi [Images], enlightens Indian students desiring to pursue their various studies in Australia.

According to her, a test in International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a must before anybody files an application for a student visa to Australia.

Excerpts from an interview with R.M.S. Atwal of BetterThink:

The recent law changes have created a lot of confusion among Indian students desiring to pursue their studies in Australia. The rules seem to have hit the Indian students the hardest. What's the official reaction to this belief?

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship regularly reviews the Student Visa Assessment Levels. There seems to be a significant difference between the perceived effects of the Assessment Level (AL) changes and the actual effects in India.  The AL changes have not caused a decrease in the number of students choosing to study in Australia. For further information, please see www.immi.gov.au.

Many Indian student visa consultants are promising visas without IELTS. How is it possible? On the other hand, we see students with even as low band score as 4.5 flocking to Australia.

It would better if you contact Australia's Department of Immigration and Citizenship for an official response.  I can only say that the Australian government has legislation in place which sets out the criteria to be met in order to be granted a visa. The legislation requires an applicant to have completed an IELTS test prior to lodging his/her visa application. The IELTS levels required for a particular visa are set out in the legislation.  Some student visas allow a student visa applicant to travel to Australia to undertake English language training prior to commencing another course.

So, do you agree Australia has reached a saturation point with the glut of foreign students?    

Can we say, quality is being sacrificed over quantity?

Australian education providers are governed by a legislation which sets out limits on the number of student enrolments based on capacity.  Therefore, Australian education institutions that are recruiting Indian students have the capacity to cater to those students. India is the second largest source country for international students to Australia. By choosing Australia, Indian students are guaranteed to get a quality education. In addition, surveys suggest that the vast majority of international students studying in Australia are getting jobs when they complete their studies.

Can a student change his course mid-way, without damaging his future prospect? Does he need to attend all his classes or just 80 per cent would do?

If a student wants to change to a new course at the same level of qualification, he does not need to apply for a new student visa unless his current visa is about to expire. Changing to a course in another education sector (eg, from university degree to diploma or certificate) will require the student to apply for a new student visa.

Changing education provider: Students are generally not allowed to change their provider within the first six months of their principal course. If they intend to do so, they should contact their current provider for information. In most circumstances, the new education provider will be restricted from enrolling the student if that student has not completed six months of the main course of study for which the visa was granted. If students want to change provider before completing the first six months of their principal course of study, then they must contact their current provider for permission.

Attendance: Students in Australia must maintain satisfactory attendance in their course as required by the relevant education provider. They must make satisfactory course progress for each study period. Such a provider will advise the Department of Immigration and Citizenship if attendance or course progress is not satisfactory. The definition of 'satisfactory' is determined by the education provider.

Duration: Student visas are granted only for the time of the course duration. The courses have set curriculum which follows the time as scheduled, thereby determining the length of stay allowed on the visa.

Everybody goes for a diploma course and most of the students do not go for degrees? Is it for an easy PR or something else?

There are a substantial number of Indian students choosing university degree courses in Australia. Figures from July to October 2008 show that there were 17,894 students enrolled for Masters Degree Coursework and 11,967 for PhD and higher doctorate qualifying programs. Diploma courses are increasing more significantly under the Vocational Educational and Training sector as students are tending to choose courses which are more job-oriented.

What types of scholarships are available for students?

There are several options when it comes to scholarships. Individual Australian education providers offer scholarships, and the Australian government offers a suit of them. The Endeavour [Images] Awards scheme is the Australian Government's internationally competitive, merit-based scholarship program providing opportunities for citizens of the Asia-Pacific region to undertake study, research and professional development in Australia. Awards are also available for Australians to do the same abroad. For further details visit the Endeavour Awards website at www.endeavour.dest.gov.au; www.australianscholarships.gov.au.

What courses are in great demand these days and how is the Australian education system different from India?

The most sought-after courses by Indian students at present are Business Administration and Management, English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students, Computer Sciences and Information Systems, Services, Hospitality and Transport.

The Australian education system is similar to the Indian education system in that it provides high standards of education, state-of-the-art facilities and generally has a strong research focus. Australian qualifications and institutions are globally recognised (in India they are recognised by Association of Indian Universities).  Australia has a multicultural and harmonious society which gives excellent value for money and a standard of living which is amongst the highest in the world.

BetterThink (www.TCYonline.com) is a premier organisation that has been preparing national and international candidates for high-end tests like CAT, XAT, FMS, SNAP, GRE, GMAT, SAT etc. since 1998. Visit TCYonline.com to have FREE access to these tests. 


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