Study visa crack­down

Herald Sun - - FRONT PAGE - SHERADYN HOLDERHEAD

MORE than 3000 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents have been booted out of Aus­tralia and a fur­ther 13,000 blocked from en­ter­ing the coun­try in an im­mi­gra­tion fraud crack­down.

Lists of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents are re­viewed every week to make sure the sys­tem is not rorted by for­eign­ers want­ing to work here. The re­view checks stu­dents not en­rolled in a course who last stud­ied more than two months ago but who have more than six months left on their visa.

It comes as the gov­ern­ment pre­pares to over­haul the visa sys­tem as part of its new pop­u­la­tion pol­icy, ex­pected to be an­nounced next month.

Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son has sin­gled out tem­po­rary visas, in­clud­ing stu­dent visas, for new re­stric­tions to force for­eign­ers into re­gional ar­eas and small cities.

Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter David Cole­man said the stu­dent visa pro­gram had to work in Aus­tralia’s na­tional in­ter­est.

“The gov­ern­ment will not tol­er­ate fraud and mis­con­duct by those seek­ing to study in Aus­tralia,” he said. “While in­ter­na­tional stu­dents are granted re­stricted work rights while in Aus­tralia, stu­dents found to be work­ing in breach of these rights are li­able to have their visa can­celled.”

Lat­est De­part­ment of Home Af­fairs fig­ures show 3182 stu­dents had their visa can­celled while an­other 13,398 stu­dents had visas can­celled be­fore they en­tered Aus­tralia.

Of the visas can­celled, 19 were blocked on char­ac­ter grounds, in­clud­ing per­pe­tra­tors of as­sault and drug crime. Mr Cole­man said the gov­ern­ment was re­view­ing all visa pro­grams.

“The stu­dent visa pro­gram is very pos­i­tive for the Aus­tralian econ­omy and any po­ten­tial changes will be taken in con­sul­ta­tion with the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor, and with a view to en­sur­ing that the pro­gram con­tin­ues to work in the in­ter­est of all Aus­tralians,” he said.

Stu­dent visas can be for up to five years, but the gov­ern­ment must be no­ti­fied of changes to course en­rol­ments.

Uni­ver­si­ties and other ed­u­ca­tion providers also had to re­port when for­eign stu­dents reg­u­larly failed to turn up to classes, were fail­ing cour­ses or not pay­ing their fees.

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