Australia to tighten immigration process to prevent 'back door' entry

Last Updated 21 January 2010, 12:10 IST
Australia to tighten immigration process to prevent  'back door' entry

Canberra has also commissioned an external review to see how to tighten the process of weeding out private educational institutions that do not measure up to quality levels.

"We want criteria for registration to make it tougher. We have introduced legislation in Parliament to do that," Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese said.
He was answering questions on what Australia was doing to cut down on students going from India for non-specialised courses and end up doing unskilled work.

Varghese said a very large number of people go to Australia to train in institutions that are not run by government which fall short of quality and they were being closed down. The external review will take care of this problem.

He said there was a mismatch between the profile of many of the applicants and the courses they were opting for in Australia.

Varghese said Australia has decided to implement visa rules "rigorously" to ensure that genuine students go there for study.
"We are not tightening the visa rules. But we are rigorously implementing these rules. We want to ensure that the students going there are genuine students and their intention is genuine," he said.

The High Commission in India had rejected the visa applications of about 12 to 13 per cent of the students who wanted to study in private education providers in Australia.

"In some cases the intention of the students was not adequately demonstrated. In certain cases the documents were not authentic," he said.
The High Commission took this step in sync with the decision of Department of Immigration and Citizenship to strengthen checks on student visa applications to stamp out fraud and ensure that students have the financial capacity to live and study in Australia.

The envoy said that many of the private education providers in Australia were not delivering what they were promising. The government has started a rapid audit to ensure that the private education providers deliver quality education.

Varghese said about 16 private colleges have been closed down after they were found not to be delivering quality education as promised by them. There are about 1200 such private education providers operating in Australia.
He gave an assurance that all the affected students would be given admission in a similar institute. In case of any problem, the students would be reimbursed the fee they have paid for their education.

Typical urban crimes, not racist

On the continuing attacks on Indian students, the High Commissioner shared India's concern and said his country was doing its utmost to ensure their safety.
At least 35 people involved in such incidents have been arrested and prosecuted. In one case, a person has been sentenced to 18 years in jail.
He insisted that the attacks were typical urban crimes and not racist in nature.
Varghese said parts of Indian media were playing a negative role though he did not feel the Indian government was "over-reacting".
"We recognise this as a serious issue and of considerable concern for us. We have taken number of steps to bring the number of attacks down," he said.
As most of the attacks have been reported from Melbourne, Varghese said the number of police for patrolling has been increased. Besides, safe station programme has been started in the city to beef up security at the metro stations.

Reacting to External Affairs Minister S M Krishna's statement warning of "adverse" effect of the continuing attacks on Indians on people-to-people relationship between the two countries, Varghese acknowledged that it would have impact on some aspects of bilateral ties.
Terming as "measured and constructive" reaction of Indian government to these attacks, he said  "This (assaults) is an issue which has potential to flow on to the sort of things that the minister has mentioned from education relationship to the tourism relationship."

Asked if he sees the Indian reaction as a threat, he said "I don't read it as a threat at all. I just see it as an observation about what the consequences might be.
"I don't think it is an unreasonable observation to say that the continuation of these attacks would not have an effect on the people-to-people exchanges that includes education and tourism."

On the attacks, he said, "We are very concerned ....but it is not credible for anyone to promise that all urban crime will stop."
Seeking to deepen bilateral ties with India, he said Australia wants to take the relationship "to the front rank" of its international relationship.

Asked whether the Australian government would prosecute the owners of the colleges which have been closed down after failing to keep promise of quality education delivery, Varghese replied in negative.
"We do not have legal process to prosecute them. We are tightening the process of registration for the private education providers," he said.
Verghese said most of Indian students pursuing studies in the private education providers are from "modest" families and they go there by taking loans.
They do shift job and stay in low-cost accommodation in high crime neighbourhood. Thus they face the risk of being attacked. He said the immigration policy is being changed as per the change with regard to the requirement of skilled personnel for the country.
Asked whether the government of India was over-reacting on the issue of students' attack, Verghese replied in negative.

(Published 21 January 2010, 12:08 IST)

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