TAFE Directors Australia on SVP Streamlined Visa Processing
The TDA Board meeting in Perth has issued a Communiqué seeking intervention from the Australian government on international education.
A key issue nominated in the Communiqué is the extraordinary contradiction of leading TDA member Box Hill Institute being awarded International Training Provider of the Year, yet being excluded from the initial offers by the Department of Immigration and Border Control (DIBC) for streamlined student visas.
A recent article in The Australian concerning extending streamlined visa processing (SVP) to a small group of non-university higher education providers also highlighted the inconsistency.
Government policy is to extend SVP to low risk and high quality providers. The approach taken by DIBC is to only focus on the first part of this policy—an approach totally inconsistent with the original offering of SVP to all universities. Despite a number of universities recording a relatively high risk in visa compliance, their overall quality was considered sufficient to enable them to participate in SVP.
TDA continues to argue that TAFE institutes which offer higher education degrees are all of sufficient quality to be treated in the same way. This has apparently not been the case, especially with several of our TAFE institutes in Victoria which are internationally and domestically recognised as outstanding providers of high quality teaching programs.
See the TDA Board Communiqué.’
The flashpoint or nexus seems to be in Victoria where TAFEs (and some private colleges) have started offering and awarding higher education degrees in direct competition with universities, for similar or better quality (small class sizes, practical input etc.), with lower fees (in course areas which used to be their domain e.g. nursing).
Higher education, especially universities, seem to have become, according to some, “too powerful” yet as above states, many contradictions such as their risk profile, and private pathway providers on campus i.e. Navitas or Study Group receiving same visa advantages (yet lacking any diversity in student body).
Student visa restrictions, preceding streamlined visa processing, was a result of ‘nativist’ negative lobbying in media 5+ years ago (still ongoing) to curtail numbers of international students in vocational sector and TAFE sector, and net overseas migration (of course coincidental that many are not European), then universities were deemed to be less risk.
This was boosted further by the then Labor government’s remarks that university of higher education was of ‘higher value’, suggesting that vocational was not? Who says Australia does not have a class system?
Now, the visa system is plain confusing and in need of clarity while Australia’s market share has been slipping over the years……