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Risk Assessment Time: Australian Universities Distressed by Alarming Visa Rejection Rates

Australian Universities Want to Stop Alarming Visa Rejection Rates

Exam time and tests give butterflies in the stomach, both to the most prepared and unprepared alike. Tests and performance evaluations are part of life not just when you are a student but when you start working. So much so that, even universities are subject to performance evaluations. Some may be surprised to hear this, but it is true. All the dear students aspiring to study in the world’s reputed universities must be joyous to know that the world’s best universities also have exam times and they also have to submit their performance.

Talking about the latest happening, universities in Australia will be asked to answer as to why there was such a high visa rejection rate recently. In the last two quarters, the visa rejection rate is said to have been historically high.

As much as 1 in 5 international students’ visa applications got rejected in the last two quarters of 2023. The ELICOS sector (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students) faced the highest rates, a third or more, of visa rejections in the last two decades. Such high visa rejection rates are a cause for concern both for the institutions and the government, but it is difficult to spot the problem and find a quick fix.

Australian government places high importance on visa rejection rates when it assesses the risk level of these institutions. As the next risk assessment or exam time for institutions, is just around the corner, i.e. in March 2024, it is expected that many more institutions will be seen in the higher risk level. Institutions are assessed twice a year, at the end of March and the end of September. 

Confusion and Frustration for All Involved

The situation created by the high visa rejection rate is disliked by all, including students, institutions and agents alike. Vice-chancellors of 16 universities have expressed their fear that confusion and disruption in visa processing will make it difficult to recover from the impacts of COVID-19. The collective revenue downturn in 2024 alone is estimated to be nearly AUS$ 310 million.

The situation has been described as alarming and urgent by the universities, complaining that new migration settings have not spared even the good universities. Thousands of students have a genuine intent to study in Australia and the roadblocks are chewing away everything, both the good and the bad, threatening the AUS$29 billion export industry.

How institutions perform in complying with immigration policies will determine whether they will stay in evidence level one or two. Universities, as a result of nervousness, slow down their internal operations, wherein a task that is usually completed in three weeks, is stretched from four to six weeks. 

Changing Risk Levels of Australian Institutions

Risk as detailed by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is the probability of accepting a student who is not genuine. This risk is divided into three categories based on their severity, called the Evidence Levels

  • Level 1 – Least Risk
  • Level 2 – Medium Risk
  • Level 3 – High Risk

Now, the visa processing times and rejection rates consider each institution’s evidence levels. To maintain the lowest risk level, some institutions turned down applications from countries that have high rejection rates. 

Institutions to save themselves from a potential downgrade and from being blamed for accepting non-genuine students make their interviews more challenging, shifting the focus on students’ incompetence, that they are not able to clear the assessment, and are not able to meet the prescribed admission requirements. 

The formula established by DHA to assess the evidence level of each institution is resulting in such drastic measures being taken:

  • Rate of visa cancellations (25% weighting)
  • Refusals because of fraud (40% weighting)
  • rate of refusals (excluding fraud) (10% weighting)
  • Increase in unlawful non-citizens (15% weighting)
  • Increase in Subsequent Protection Visa applications (10% weighting)

The situation created by the Australian government is truly a confusing one, wherein if institutions accept students who turn out to be non-genuine, then it will push them to high-risk levels and if they don’t accept students it will affect their bottom line and will move the post-pandemic recovery further away.

We have already discussed in our article – What is at Stake with Australia’s Migration Strategy, the positive impact international students make on Australia’s economy, the authorities should acknowledge the contribution of this huge industry and take appropriate measures to clear away the mist and confusion surrounding the visa application process and let it proliferate. Find out how new rules are affecting visa processing and how you can apply safely and effectively by talking to immigration consultants in Chandigarh.

Clear Things that are Visible

It is not just the international students who are suffering from high visa rejection rates, but institutions as well are not able to make sense of the Migration Strategy of Australia. Universities in Australia recognise the contribution of overseas students in running the economy of the country and they have always welcomed them. Some policy changes to ease operation for this industry will be highly appreciated.

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