Student Migration Rules May Be Toughened

Student migration rules may be toughened

By Guy Healy
The Australian, February 16, 2010

Migration-driven overseas students graduating from Australian universities and colleges may find it even tougher to win migration under more official changes flagged today.

The new points test for migration was likely 'to be tougher on overseas students who graduate from Australian institutions,' Monash University demographer Bob Birrell said.

Dr Birrell's comments follow the release today of the Rudd government's discussion paper on its review of the points test for skilled migration.

'The paper implies that those who do get such visas will come from highly skilled fields and will probably need excellent English,' Dr Birrell said.

The government expected that the total number of visas for points-tested skilled migrants would contract, compared to those with preferred employer or state sponsorship, he said.

The paper follows an overhaul of the skilled migration program announced last week aimed at cracking down on dodgy colleges whose courses exploited the points system, damaging the country's $16 billion export education industry.

The Immigration department paper sends the strongest signal yet that the government is seeking a dramatic upward shift in skill levels to qualify for migration.

The new paper proposes crediting those with qualifications from the world's top 200 or top 500 universities with migration points.

Even those with qualifications from universities such as Harvard do not get points for their qualifications under the present system, the paper said.

Similarly, the University of Melbourne's Lesleyanne Hawthorne said the program was increasingly competitive.

'Winners' had to boost their points score through a mix of high quality options, Professor Hawthorne said.

These included having a priority occupation field, having a high English score of seven, or qualifying at a higher academic level including a PhD valued at 25 points or masters/honours valued at 15 points.

The pipeline for on-shore applications for permanent skilled migration is at record levels, the paper revealed.

It also showed that the pass mark in points has not been lowered in recent years, with the result that large numbers of applicants waiting two years in a 'pool' have been refused.

Under the points system, would-be skilled migrants accrue attribute-based points towards a total 'pass mark' to achieve permanent residency.

March 12 is the deadline for submissions to the discussion paper.