"I am delighted that the Australian government has accepted the 41 recommendations put forward in the Knight Review of the student visa program.
Internationalisation in all its aspects is a critical element of Swinburne today. We are proud of our international students who come from over 90 countries to complete a Swinburne qualification. We are strengthened by our partnerships with universities in many countries. And we have deep and genuine collaborations in research across the world.
Today's announcement gives certainty to international students applying for a visa to study in Australia's universities. These changes include:
· A new streamlined visa processing system for students applying for bachelors level programs and above in Australia's universities
· Sensible improvements to the funding students are required to show as part of the visa application process
· A new two- to four-year post-study work visa for students graduating with bachelors level studies and above following a minimum two years of study in Australia
· Important improvements that will allow Australia to compete for the best and brightest research students, including better visa processing arrangements, no limit on the amount of work PhD candidates are able to undertake whilst studying and a four year post- graduation work visa.
The review also allows visa officers to take into account a broader range of factors and personal circumstances when considering visa cancellations. This introduces an element of natural justice into a part of the student visa program and increases the likelihood of a fair and reasonable decision being reached.
I am also pleased that the government's efforts will not stop here. The government will undertake a fundamental review of the Student Visa Risk Management Framework, and will establish an Education Visa Consultative Committee, involving immigration and education officials, employer groups and trade unions.
Swinburne recognises that with the introduction of a new streamlined visa process universities will need to meet additional obligations to safeguard against non-genuine students entering the country. I look forward to working with the government and the university sector as the details of these are confirmed.
I would also like to congratulate the Hon Michael Knight, AO, for an outstanding, thoughtful and immensely readable report. Mr Knight says that he knew "nothing" about the intricacies of the student visa program when he came to the task. His report, running to almost 200 pages, is an insightful and comprehensive response to this complex and critical area.
The two ministers who commissioned and responded to the report, Senator Chris Evans and Chris Bowen MP, are also to be congratulated for their leadership and the collaborative approach they have displayed. For many years Australia's universities have called for a whole-of-government approach to international education: by jointly responding to the report today the Ministers for Immigration and Citizenship, and Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations have demonstrated how this approach can deliver positive outcomes for the nation.
It is my understanding that the majority of the reforms will be implemented throughout 2012 and 2013, with the key recommendations coming into effect for the start of second semester next year.
Michael Knight's report, the terms of reference for the ongoing review and a range of fact sheets can be found on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship's website at http://www.immi.gov.au/students/knight/