By Matthew Knott, News Editor of Study Travel Magazine

Australia’s new government certainly isn’t hanging around as far as the international education sector is concerned. Some positive pre-election messages have been followed up with the first concrete policy proposals this week.

As previously reported, the international education peak bodies had been losing patience with industry reports gathering dust and policies going unimplemented, and one of those reports has now seen the light of day with the release of a review into the country’s student visa assessment level framework, alongside policies to simplify the levels.

Australia’s student visa application procedures, risk frameworks and assessment levels are among the more complex of the major destinations, so a simplification is sure to be welcomed by educators, agents and students alike.

English Australia Executive Director Sue Blundell told STM that hidden in the report were the recommendations about weightings given to different criteria in determining a country’s assessment level. “Whilst ‘technical’, this is a positive development which means that the way ALs are allocated to countries are based on the most relevant data,” she said.

More divisive in the industry is the announcement that 22 non-university providers with students in degree-level programmes are to be offered streamlined visa processing; vocational body Acpet see the figure as far too low, while English Australia are against further extensions creating a ‘have’ and ‘have not’ stratification in the sector.

Also in Australia, the government of Victoria has this week released an international education plan, including measures to provide transport concessions for international students – a significant step as Victoria is the last state not to offer some form of assistance. That said, a year-long ticket bought in advance is quite an investment for any student and is a policy that should be reviewed.

Elsewhere this week, we bought news of an online MBA offered by Study Group receiving accreditation. While Moocs have been grabbing an awful lot of media coverage over recent months, there has been a concomitant growth in fee-based, accredited online provision, with commission potential for agents as well.

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