Govt announces approval for more English language tests for student visas

by Ray Clancy on May 23, 2011

in Australia Immigration

More English test for visa applicants

Three additional English language test options for people applying for an Australian student visa have been announced by Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen, as part of a move to address the current shortage of test places.

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) will be expanded, he said. The Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) and the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) from Cambridge ESOL will shortly be added to the existing English language tests for student visa purposes specified in the Migration Regulations 1994.

The Australian Government anticipates these new tests will be accepted for student visa applications later this year, he confirmed.

‘We have given careful consideration when selecting these three English language test providers to ensure that high standards of integrity are maintained and that test score results are appropriately safeguarded,’ Bowen said.

‘The integrity of English language testing is important because the language test results are a key component in visa application requirements. These additional English language test options will help to create competition in the English language testing market, while creating more test places for student visa applicants,’ he explained.

‘They will also provide candidates with greater choice and enable them to more quickly obtain test results needed for visa applications,’ Bowen added.

Currently, the main English language test accepted by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) for Australian visa purposes is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). ‘The Government has had a good working relationship with IELTS and we expect that to continue into the future,’ Bowen said.

He added that the Government would closely monitor and review the implementation of the new tests to determine whether these should be introduced for other visa programmes at a later date.

The obligation to take an English test is part of changes to the skilled immigration application process that is set to come into force on 01 July this year.

Under existing rules, only test results from the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) are permitted and this is why new test schemes are being approved.

The Australian government has reduced visa assessment levels for students from 38 countries, including India, whose students make up a large percentage of Australia’s foreign student population.

The lower visa assessment levels are in response to much lower student immigration levels in the last few years that have meant a huge reduction in student fee income for Australia’s education sector.

The Australian education sector is a multi-billion dollar industry that depends to a great extent on fee income from Indian and Chinese students.

During the 2009/10 fiscal year, 270,499 student visas were granted. There are 382,710 student visa holders in the country as of 30 June 2010. Of this number, 80,450 were Indian students, 80,010 were Chinese students and 21,720 were from South Korea.

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