Policy change impacts Nepalese students applying for VET student visa

8 May 2019: Nepalese students wishing to apply for a student visa to pursue Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses in Australia are beginning to feel the heat of recent changes made by the Department of Home Affairs. The changes to documentary requirements targeted prospective VET students from Nepal only.

The Australian government had announced last month that students from the Himalayan nation would now be required to provide evidentiary documentation of English and Financial capacity irrespective of the education provider or country assessment level which is currently at Level 2.

According to a practicing registered migration agent, contrary to the predictions made by some education agents in Nepal as well as in Australia, these unpopular changes are already impacting the Australian dream of Nepalese students.

“We have already had cases of education providers refusing to issue offer letters to some of our clients,” said immigration lawyer Hem Raj Bhatta who also works as a registered migration agent off Sydney.

According to Mr Bhatta, the changes that came into effect from May 1 have made the VET providers both concerned and nervous as they do not want to have their assessment rating impacted or face refusal.

Mr Bhatta revealed that only yesterday a private college in Sydney declined admission to a Nepalese student because his English score was not available. “That particular student would not have needed the evidence of English language skills otherwise,” he compared the new system versus the pre-May 1 environment.

All Nepalese students now must have an IELTS score of at least 5.5 in each band and overall 6 points. This, of course, in addition to demonstrating their financial capacity to support themselves whilst studying in Australia.

The recent changes will specially affect those who planned on coming to Australia on a tourist visa and then change into a student visa by applying for a VET course in a college where English evidence was not required due to the provider being in assessment level 2. Because of the May 1 policy change, they cannot do that anymore without sitting in an English language test and achieving the required level of IELTS score. On top of that, they would also be required to arrange for documents to evidence they do have the financial means to pursue the desired training course.

Mr Bhatta does concur that a whole lot of people did so in the past but which will now be a thing of the past. He believes that the new policy will have noticeable impact on Nepalese students; in particular on those Nepalese citizens who were on visitors visa and were planning on converting to student visa by taking up a course at Level 2 VET provider.

Not everyone is concerned following the changes in visa application requirements. A veteran of the VET industry for instance said he was rather happy with the changes introduced by the Australian government. He argued that the new requirements would “filter out the bad students” from Australian education institutions. “Only genuine students will make it now,” the education businessman said requesting not to be identified.

As its rationale for specifically targeting Nepalese students by bringing in the recent Nepal-specific changes, the Australian government has said that it is “undertaking these steps to ensure growth in the sector is sustainable and to protect the welfare of vulnerable students”.

In its Fact-sheet, the Department of Home Affairs argued that although Nepal is the third largest source country for international students in Australia, it is only the 47th largest country in the world and thereby appeared to indicate that it is somewhat concerned at the disproportionate rise in the number of Nepalese international students in Australia.

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