Last month, The AFR reported that Australia was being inundated with fraudulent student visa applications from India and Nepal.
Former regulator for the vocational training sector, Claire Field, said the lifting of restrictions on work hours was acting as a lure for non-genuine students. In turn, “there are allegations of significant visa fraud in India”, which “as a former regulator for the vocational training sector, [has] the alarm bells in my head are ringing loudly”.
Now the Indian Express is reporting similar, with Australia’s Home Affairs department receiving hundreds of fraudulent visa applications from students from Punjab and Haryana. This follows Australia loosening entry requirements for Indian students:
Various consultants dealing in “study in Australia” revealed that the trend to go to Australia is gathering speed because students now need to pay only six months’ fee in advance Down Under and there is no need to pay for living expenses upfront…
It is learnt that some unscrupulous travel agents are attaching fake documents related to funds and educational qualifications which have put things under the microscope of Australian authorities…
Chitresh Dhawan, owner of Dhawan Educational Consultancy in Amritsar… said that around 600 fraud cases, majority from Haryana and some from Punjab, were detected by the Australian Home Department recently in which fake documents related to students’ educational qualifications and funds were found attached with other documents…
Ludhiana-based Can-Able Immigration Consultants’ director Khilandeep Singh said… the trend to go Australia is gathering speed and nearly 50,000 students from India are being targeted by the Australian government annually. Unlike other countries, where a one-year advance fee and one-year living expenses are required to be paid, in Australia students need to pay only 6 months’ fee upfront and for living expenses, they need to show the funds in their respective accounts instead of paying in advance.”
With this, students can go to Australia by shelling out just Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh instead of spending nearly Rs 20 lakh in other countries…
“Students applying to Australia have doubled in the last three months”.
The above proves yet again that international education is really a people-importing industry rather than a genuine export industry.
Most students from the Indian subcontinent and Nepal don’t bring money from their home countries to Australia (a genuine export), but instead pay for their studies and living expenses by undertaking paid employment in Australia – often at below-award rates. These funds are by definition not an export since the money is earned here.
Indeed, for many international ‘students’ coming to Australia the primary goal is not education at all, but rather work rights and permanent residency.
Australia’s international education industry has become a key feeder to the ‘Big Australia’ mass immigration policy. In order to juice international student volumes, Australia’s has reached deep down the quality barrel by slashing entry requirements and granting uncapped working hours.
Rather than racing to the bottom, Australia’s international education system should instead target a smaller intake of high quality students via:
- Lifting entry standards (particularly English-language proficiency);
- Lifting financial requirements needed to enter Australia; and
- Removing the link between studying, work rights and permanent residency.
These reforms would raise student quality, would lift genuine export revenues per student, would lift wage growth by removing competition in the jobs market, and would lower enrolment numbers to sensible and sustainable levels, in turn improving the experience for local students.
Sadly, we all know these reforms will never happen. Because if standards were lifted, and work rights and permanent residency were scaled back, the numbers of students arriving would collapse. And so too would the mass immigration model.
Our policy makers will instead crater standards even further to entice as many warm bodies into Australia as possible. Because the business and edu-migration industry rent-seekers demand it.